When a person passes away, their assets are ordinarily collected and distributed according to the terms of their will (or to their closest living relatives if no will is present) through a process known as probate. This process is notorious for being lengthy, costly, and confusing, especially in the event that a dispute should arise among beneficiaries. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do during your lifetime to ensure a smooth transfer of your assets at the time of your death and save your loved ones from the hassle and expense of probate.
The following options can all be used to eliminate the need for probate in New York:
- Living trusts: New York allows individuals to transfer ownership of nearly any asset they own to a trustee upon their death through an estate planning tool known as a “living trust.” Real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and other assets that are listed in a trust document can be transferred to a trust which you control during your lifetime. At the time of your death, a named successor trustee will take over control of the trust and its assets and distribute it to beneficiaries without the need for probate involvement.
- Joint ownership: Any property that you own jointly with someone else which includes the “right of survivorship” will be directly transferred to the other owner at the time of your death. Forms of joint ownership allowed in New York include joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety.
- Payable-on-death accounts: You can add a “payable-on-death” (POD) designation to any bank account which names a beneficiary to inherit the monies within at the time of your death. POD beneficiaries have no right to the funds in a POD account during your lifetime, and you may spend the funds as you please.
- Transfer-on-death registrations: Similar to POD accounts, securities, stocks, and bonds can be directly transferred to a beneficiary by registering them in transfer-on-death (TOD) form. At the time of your death, your beneficiary will deal directly with the brokerage company and automatically inherit the account. While some other states allow TOD to be used for the transfer of vehicles or real estate, New York restricts TOD registration to be used for brokerage accounts only.
Estate Planning Lawyer in Nassau County
Planning for the future is something everyone should do sooner rather than later. At Davidov Law Group, our Nassau County estate planning attorneys can help evaluate you situation and guide you towards a solution that best fits your needs. To find out more about how our knowledgeable advocates can help you find peace of mind, call our office at or contact us online today.