A primary goal of estate planning is to express the client's wishes for the dispositon of property and the care of his or her family after death in as sensitive, cost-effective manner as possible.
Chief among tools are the will and the trust. A will takes effect only at death whereas a trust may be established during the client's lifetime or in the client's Will.
Loss of faculties, whether gradual or sudden, affects more of us as as life expectancies lengthen. Keeping the aging client in familiar surroundings with minimally invasive support systems is not a matter of accident. Appropriate legal documents coupled with family education can help you and your parents "age in place."
Governmental assistance programs such as SSI and Medicaid are "means-tested" and reject individuals with more than a minimal level of income or resources. For these individuals, receipt of a bequest can have unforeseen consequences if not planned for properly.
New York residents must contend with the differing standards of the New York estate tax and the federal estate tax.
Estates and trusts are taxpayers for purpose of income taxes. Planning can faciltate shifting income and deductions from one tax year to another as well as to and among beneficiaries.