Posted by: BlogMaster | July 14, 2013

The Revocable Living Trust: The Right Solution for Estate Planning

You may not be aware that probate of an estate in New York State is most often not a lengthy, drawn out process.   But sometimes, there is a need to avoid probate, particularly for individuals who have no direct heirs, who are missing heirs, who have unknown heirs, or who choose to disinherit their heirs. In these instances, consider instead a Revocable Living Trust.

Here is a client’s story where the Revocable Living Trust was the appropriate solution.

Miss B., a youthful, cheerful, unmarried 83-year-old retired school teacher, told me that she wants to benefit certain charities at her death.  With most of her siblings long dead, she has many nieces and nephews to consider as beneficiaries, as well. 

During our meetings, Miss B. informed me that she was also worried about managing her bill paying and her substantial assets if her memory were to become impaired. She wanted to designate one niece in particular to be responsible for managing her affairs, if this should happen. 

For the benefit of you, my blog readers, I asked Miss B. to consider her answers to these key three questions – plus one additional question:

  • Where do you want to grow old or age?
  • If you currently live in your own home, how will you be able to stay in this home? That is, what financial resources and income do you currently own to make this possible, and if feasible, what plan should be put into action for you to safely remain at home?
  • What legal documents are essential to implement your plan for aging according to your wishes? 
  • And, what is the least costly method for distributing your assets, after your death, to the desired charities and selected family members?

The simplest solution for Miss B. to meet her needs and achieve her wishes was a Revocable Living Trust. 

As long as Miss B. is well and competent, she can remain at home; she will continue to pay her own bills and manage her own finances. 

If illness or mental frailty become evident, the niece she named as her Successor Trustee will step in to fill the same role.  And, at Miss B.’s death, the niece will ensure that the trust is distributed to those charities and beneficiaries Miss B.  designates – without the expense, notice requirements and cost of a probate proceeding, which is more complex and lengthy for a single individual without children, like Miss B. 

The Revocable Living Trust can be a finely tuned solution for your estate planning – whether you are single or married.  As with Miss B., your legal documents and your plan for aging should never be a cookie-cutter approach. The best solution for you , too, will be personalized meet to your unique needs and  wishes.

My law office recommends that upon turning age 55, you review your estate and elder care plans at least once every 3 to 5 years. This will help ensure  your planning is up-to-date and meets your needs and those of your loved ones. We are available to  work with you to ensure your plans for aging keep pace with changes in the elder care, Medicaid, and estate tax laws. 

You and your family will experience physical and mental changes over the years, which may mean you need to amend your estate plan.  By not revisiting your estate and elder law plan on a regular basis, you run the risk of the plan not meeting your needs and wishes when these life changes occur. Sometimes changes are simple – changing executors, beneficiaries, or guardians of children if the  designated guardians have passed away or are no longer part of your life.

I provide my clients with a no-charge review of their plans every 3 to 5 years. If you are  a client of my law firm and it’s been a few years since you reviewed your plan, I suggest you call now to schedule your review meeting. If you would like to become a client of this law firm and review your planning with me, I invite you to schedule an initial consultation and I look forward to meeting you.

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