Trusts are among the main workhorses of Elder Law and estate planning, and are some of its most powerful and valuable tools. They serve a number of useful purposes. Most people understand the concept of a Will, but a Trust can serve the identical function as a Will without its inconveniences, and provide significant additional advantages as well.
A trust starts with an agreement created by a “trustor” or “grantor.” The grantor names the “trustee,” to hold and manage assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. The trust itself is legally a “person,” and is the owner of the assets that the grantor (or others) transfer to it.
If you create a trust and place your assets into your trust, you might not need a Will at all. You can designate in the trust agreement what happens to your assets upon your death, in the same way that you would in your Will.
Assets that are in your name alone at the time of your death are subject to your Will, and are required to go through a court process called “probate” before they can be distributed. Probate is public, and often expensive, frustrating, uncertain and time-consuming.
A benefit of all trusts is that assets in the trust are not subject to probate. Distributions can be made quickly and efficiently, the process is private, and far less costly and time-consuming than a probate proceeding.
Different kinds of trusts have different requirements and benefits, and different levels of control by the grantor. Revocable trusts are used for estate planning, avoiding probate, and maintaining privacy. Irrevocable trusts also avoid probate, but at the same time they afford asset protection and facilitate eligibility for government benefit programs such as Medicaid.
Supplemental Needs Trusts, also known as Special Needs Trusts, provide support for persons with disabilities without compromising their eligibility for government benefit programs.
The first step in creating a trust generally involves meeting with a trust lawyer who will review your assets, income, goals, and objectives. Then, he or she will create the trust agreement and help you “fund” the trust. The experienced attorneys at Lamson & Cutner have the knowledge and skills in elder law trusts to help you preserve your assets and income to the greatest extent possible, while ensuring efficient and prompt distribution of your assets to your chosen beneficiaries upon your death.
The types of trusts for the elderly typically used in Elder Law planning include:
- Medicaid Trust (Irrevocable Grantor Trust)
- Revocable or “Living” Trust (estate planning only)
- Pooled Income Trust
- Supplemental Needs Trust
- Placing a Co-op in a Trust
Every case is individual and unique, and you’ll need proper advice on what trust configuration will deliver the maximum advantage for you. Different trust strategies apply to various economic and family situations, and often depend on whether you need, or want to plan against the risk of needing, home care or nursing facility care. Trusts are the most effective and prudent way to hold and protect your assets, and they’re fully authorized for this purpose under Federal and New York State laws.
If you already have a trust created for estate planning purposes, your trust should be evaluated by an Elder Law attorney. Make sure that you have focused on the serious financial risks that you may face, in particular the potential need for long-term care at some point. The goal of our services is always to put you in the best position possible to maintain your lifestyle, and to protect your and your family’s financial future.
When you need a trust attorney, choose the caring, experienced legal professionals at Lamson & Cutner. With offices in both NYC and Westchester County, we are conveniently located and prepared to help you create or update elder law trusts. You can speak to us from the comfort of your own home, if you prefer, via Zoom or conference call. To learn more about your options or to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney or Medicaid trust attorney, contact us today.