One of the major benefits of setting up a living trust is to avoid the New York probate process. Probate is what happens when a person dies owning property in his or her name. Upon death, a relative will take that person’s Will to court (or start an intestacy proceeding if the person died without a Will), and then begin paying debts and transferring assets in accordance with the Will or state law.
In order to avoid probate, which can be expensive and time consuming, many people will choose to set-up a living trust. A living trust is a legal mechanism in which your assets are owned by the trust during your life and managed by you (or another person) as Trustee. Upon your death, your assets are transferred according to your wishes, which are written in the trust document. If all of your assets are held in the name of the trust, rather than in your individual name, upon death your estate does not need to go through probate.
However, frequently people will either fail to transfer their assets into the name of the trust at the time it is set-up, or they later acquire new assets and forget that those assets should be titled in the name of the trust. Upon death, their estate must go through probate, because they died owning property in their individual name rather than in the name of the trust.
If you decide to use a living trust as a part of your estate plan, it’s critical that you make sure that all of your assets are titled to it, or are set-up in such a way that upon death your estate does not go through probate. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you insure that your assets are correctly titled. If you’re in New York State, call the Trust Planning attorneys at Friedman & Ranzenhofer at 716-542-5444. Our attorneys can help walk you through the process of creating a living trust.