New York Advanced Estate Planning Attorney
Whether your estate plan involves international assets, a child with special needs, or other exceptional circumstances, please contact the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff. We can draft a comprehensive estate plan to meet your and your family’s unique needs.
Estate planning involves more than just informing your loved ones of your final wishes. It also ensures that you pass down your legacy and inheritance to your intended heirs. And it ensures the person you choose will make financial and health care decisions in line with your wishes if you become incapacitated.
A basic estate plan includes a last will and testament, a power of attorney, a health care proxy, and maybe a trust or living will. You can read about those documents here. But a wide range of situations require an advanced estate plan to address exceptional circumstances in a person’s life.
For example, if you care for an adult with a disability, your special needs trust ensures they remain eligible for government benefits even after inheriting your assets. If you own high value life insurance policies, you can eliminate or mitigate estate taxes if they are held in a life insurance trust. You can depend on the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff for a wide range of expert advanced estate planning.
Call (347) 640-0993 today for a consultation with a skilled and trusted New York advanced estate planning attorney.
Elements of Advanced Estate Planning
Some people don’t need advanced estate planning because they don’t have high value or unusual assets, and they have typical family structures. A will can be enough for them to inform others of final wishes and distribute their assets.
Advanced estate planning is more than just a simple will though. It aims to protect unique family structures and minimize or eliminate estate taxes.
At the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff, we handle many aspects of advanced estate planning, such as:
- Revocable/living trust
- Special needs planning
- Medicaid planning
- International asset and foreign citizen planning
- Life insurance trust
- Business succession planning
- Pet planning
We work with all types of family dynamics and can tailor a plan that fits the structure of your family and meets your needs.
A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, offers many advantages. Your New York advanced estate planning attorney from the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff will advise if and how it might benefit you.
A revocable trust protects a person’s assets during their lifetime with maximum flexibility. You can name yourself the trustee so you can oversee the trust while you’re still alive and continue adding or removing assets as desired. You also appoint a trustee to manage the property you transfer to the trust and distribute it to your named beneficiaries if you die or become incapacitated.
A revocable living trust ensures your assets automatically transfer to your beneficiaries upon death, simplifying or avoiding probate. It can even avoid double probate proceedings. For example, the estates of “snowbirds” who own homes in New York and Florida would usually require court proceedings in both states. However, if the owner establishes a revocable trust for both homes during her lifetime and properly transfers the deeds, the houses need not go through probate in either state.
Revocable trusts also offer privacy since a trust typically isn’t a public record like a will. Most wills probated in New York can now be accessed online by anyone through court databases.
Special Needs Planning
Our attorney, Bracha Etengoff, has extensive experience and understanding of people with disabilities and their families from her work and education. She administered neuropsychological tests while obtaining her M.A. in Psychology. She was also a counselor at a residence for disabled adults, and taught at a recreational special education program for children.
Now, Bracha Etengoff is dedicated to assisting people with disabilities through special needs planning. A well drafted special needs trust that protects eligibility for government benefits is the centerpiece of this estate plan. The person with a disability is the beneficiary of the trust and the appointed trustee manages the funds. Assets transferred to the trust can be used to pay for the beneficiary’s expenses without compromising eligibility for government benefit programs. Two main types are available:
- First party special needs trust – With a first party special needs trust, the person with a disability or special needs is also the person who creates the trust.
- Third party special needs trust – A third party, such as a parent, creates the trust to benefit a person with a disability or special needs.
If a parent establishes a third party special needs trust, the will can seamlessly direct the parent’s assets into it and the child does not risk losing government benefits when the parent passes.
However, if the parent does not plan properly, the child risks denial of government benefits when he or she establishes a first party special needs trust after the parent passes. And the state receives all assets remaining in the trust after the child passes.
Another element of estate planning for people with disabilities is the use of ABLE accounts. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act permits states to offer eligible individuals access to tax advantaged programs. Eligibility for an ABLE account requires meeting these conditions:
- Currently collecting benefits through Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income
- Received a disability diagnosis before 26 years of age
- Have a medical condition expected to last a consecutive twelve months or longer
ABLE account funds can be used for education, transportation, and other necessary expenses.
Medicaid is a jointly funded federal and state program that provides health coverage to eligible individuals, including low-income adults, people with disabilities, the elderly, and children. New York law allows Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities or illnesses if certain criteria are met, including asset and income limitations.
If your assets are above the required amount, you can create a Medicaid asset protection trust. This is an irrevocable trust and exempt from the asset limit required by Medicaid. You can protect your assets for long-term care while alive and protect your beneficiaries’ access to your assets when you pass away.
If your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, you can contribute the excess to a pooled trust. A pooled trust contains income from multiple beneficiaries but holds it in segregated accounts for each individual. You can contribute your excess income to the trust and receive assistance for monthly expenses, such as groceries, mortgage, and utility bills. However, the trust or Medicaid receives any income remaining in the pooled trust after you pass away.
Medicaid planning is complex and requires careful drafting to comply with complex and ever changing regulations. The Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff will explain your options to you and ensure your eligibility and assets are protected.
International Estate Planning
International estate planning is crucial if you have assets in another country. If you have dual citizenship or foreign citizenship, international concerns also arise.
The Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff has experience coordinating with foreign counsel to create estate plans in multiple countries. We also review various laws to mitigate domestic and foreign estate taxes.
A common issue with international estate planning is when a married couple lives in the United States, but one or both aren’t U.S. citizens. Estate and gift tax laws are stricter for non-citizens and require proper estate planning to avoid adverse tax consequences.
Creating a Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT) can be an effective approach. The unlimited marital deduction is available when a U.S. citizen transfers assets to a QDOT. This defers estate tax until the non-citizen spouse’s death.
For foreign assets, sometimes a second will is advisable because an American will may be contested or misinterpreted in another country.
Other cases involving dual citizenship or foreign citizenship may require only a consultation with foreign counsel.
In all cases, Bracha Etengoff draws on her experience with international estate planning to protect her clients’ assets, while keeping the process smooth and efficient.
Life Insurance Trust
A life insurance trust assumes ownership over life insurance policies and their proceeds. Once you create a life insurance trust, the trust is the legal owner, not you. When you die, the proceeds don’t count as part of your estate, so they are not subject to federal or state estate taxes.
However, errors in the trust document or naming the trust incorrectly on the policies could prevent a beneficiary from collecting the proceeds or trigger high estate taxes. Our attorney, Bracha Etengoff, has experience drafting insurance trusts carefully and handling communications with insurers for her clients.
Business Succession Planning
As a business owner, you understand the importance of longevity. Even after you’re gone, you may want your business to continue to thrive under the ownership of your adult child, sibling, or friend. Creating the appropriate documentation is key to ensuring that the transition is seamless.
You should converse with your successors in advance to align your expectations. You might want to leave your business to your child, but it may not be something they want. That’s why communication is vital so you can protect the future of your business.
As an experienced mediator, Bracha Etengoff can facilitate family succession discussions if desired. She will draft your will and trust to provide for smooth succession, and review and amend corporate documents to work in harmony with them.
Virtual currency is a type of personal property. You can include Bitcoin, Ripple, and other cryptocurrencies in your estate plan. However, how to do so requires careful consideration.
Unlike a bank account, accessing virtual currency is more complex. If your designated beneficiary doesn’t know you have cryptocurrency, it will go unused and forgotten.
Conversely, anyone who gets their hands on the key can access your cryptocurrency. We will discuss how to inform your executor of the access key and keep it somewhere safe as part of your comprehensive estate planning.
As a cat owner herself, Bracha Etengoff understands people’s deep bonds with their pets. She knows your dog, cat, rabbit, or any other animal you love is family, and you want to protect its future just like your human family’s.
Your estate plan can and should include your pet. Choose someone you trust to care for your pet when you die and discuss your wishes with them in advance. If they agree, you can name them in your will as your pet’s owner and leave them funds for its care.
A pet trust is another good option. The trust creates a continuing obligation for the new owner to care for the pet. The trustee you choose manages the funds and gives them to the owner for the pet’s expenses, such as food, medical treatment, and toys. Choosing a trustee who is not the same person as the owner will create a check and balance. You can also specify the care you want your pet to receive, as well as name alternative owners and trustees. Therefore, a pet trust provides the most peace of mind for you and better oversight of your pet’s care.
Whichever option you choose, you should also leave instructions on how the new owner should care for your pet, such as:
- Preferred beds, toys, and other belongings
- Nutrition and diet
- Special needs
- Over-the-counter and prescribed medications
- Sleeping and eating schedule
Contact a Dedicated New York Advanced Estate Planning Attorney
We care deeply about our clients and their families at the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff. You deserve a comprehensive estate plan that protects your interests and your family members’ futures, tailored to your unique circumstances. We will work collaboratively with your financial advisor or accountant, or even with your family members or their caregivers if you choose, to create the best possible estate plan for you.
If you need representation for expert and convenient estate planning in New York, call us at (347) 640-0993 now for your initial consultation. We can meet by video, in our Manhattan or Long Island office, or in your home or office.