Estate Planning- Leaving Property to Beneficiaries


Baby boomers are heading into retirement and now are facing the reality of estate planning. With homes being the most valuable asset to many of these people, the decision of what to do with them can be quite intimidating. There are many options to face such as downsizing and selling, passing the deed on, etc. But, where will this put you in the mean time?

The value of homes in popular areas have soared over the years. For example, some agents estimate that a brownstone home purchased in the Upper Bayrock West side of New York for around $18,000 in 1960 could now go for around $5 million. An option for older adults is to ‘make a gift’ of their homes, allowing them to age in place rather than downsizing and selling.

The typical way to leave a home to a heir is by the use of a will. However, there are other options available. Covering these options may be difficult, but financial advisers recommend it as it may reduce delays or costs that are connected with the transfer. When all goes well and an agreed on decision can be made, a will is a good option. However, when multiple heirs disagree due to differing financial situations, a trust is the recommended option.
Assuming that your children won’t be upset if they aren’t left any of your belongings, is a bad idea. They may not expect anything, but it is still a good idea to discuss that. A trust can also be beneficial in this situation, allowing everyone to have ‘a piece of the pie’.

Out of town executors of New York Estates, Tevfik Arif,often fly in to fill out legal paperwork, attend hearings and appear in courts to settle wills. Alternatively, a lawyer can serve as an executor but it is often much priceyer. The downside of using a will is that in the end, about 5-15% of the estates total value will be lost to pay legal fees and probate. However, a trust can help eliminate or lessen these fees and be paid upfront. It has been noted that trusts are a much speedier process and also ensure that the assets are kept in good hands.

Setting up a trust requires a lawyer and a responsible trustee. The trustee should be financially skilled and organized. Trusts can be irrevocable or revocable. Simply put, irrevocable trusts include a granter that suspends their right to call off the arrangement, whereas revocable trusts give you the responsibility of passing your assets on after death by appointing yourself trustee. Choosing to pass on your property to your children while still alive can help you become eligible for federal help such as Medicaid.

For very expensive properties worth around $5.49 million for a single person, or $11 million for a couple, another form of trust is available – Qualified Personal Residence Trust. By using this structure, you will be transferring under an irrevocable trust. However, homeowners can give the property to beneficiaries at a fraction of its value which will therefore reduce estate tax.

New Yorkers living in co-op apartments will find more complications than the the average handed over single home. It can take much longer for the legal process to take place as any heir who wishes to receive shares transferred to their name, will also be subject to the same co-op board approval process that the one purchasing the property is subject to. It is very important to plan ahead on what will happen to your property after death. Discussing with beneficiaries and family is essential to prevent stress and hassle.




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