Unless your name was Ralph Wilson and you were the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Bills, an honest NY Estate Lawyer will tell you why you most likely do not need to place your estate assets into a trust.

Ralph Wilson was not only the owner of the Buffalo Bills but an astute art collector with more than 26 mesmerizing pieces of rare art in his collection. When Ralph Wilson passed away last March, his collection included two Monets, one valued at $20 million, the other at $13 million, a Manet, not to be confused with Monet, valued at $7 million, and a Sisley assessed at $2.5 million. And these four pieces were only part of his 26 pieces auctioned off in Wilson’s NY estate sale, which also included several Picassos.

However all of these NY estate assets combined do not come close to the crowned jewel of Ralph Wilson’s NY estate, the Buffalo Bills. Ralph Wilson was both the founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills for more than 54 years. Currently valued at $850 million dollars, this small market franchise is widely held as the most successful organization in NFL history. Wilson was able to efficiently squeeze more money out of each Bills fan than any other NFL franchise.

A savvy businessman, Ralph Wilson placed the franchise in a trust and is still maintaining its day-to-day operations and lucrative contracts from beyond. While in this case it made sense for Ralph Wilson to have an array of trusts managing his NY estate assets in perpetuity, a trust is not for everyone.

As a NY estate lawyer many, many NY estate clients come into our NY estate offices looking for trusts. Most of their inquiries are fed by misinformation circulated around the Internet or in seminars orchestrated by NY estate lawyers. Since trusts cost more to set up and maintain than a simple will, I am bewildered as a NY wills lawyer when clients come in seeking trust formation.

I am partial to the will as opposed to the trust in NY for good reasons. Pursuant to the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2013 the Unified Credit, the amount of NY estate assets subjected to the Federal Estate Tax was raised to $5,340,000.00 per individual and $10,680,000.00 per married couple. Consequentially only .14% of all Estates in the U.S. are now subjected to Federal Estate Tax. That is fewer than 2 estates out of every 1,000 in the entire country necessitating trust formation for Federal Estate Tax purposes. That is not many.

If that was not enough reason for your NY estate lawyer to discourage trust formation, Christmas came early to the NY estate law in 2014. As of April 1, 2014, the NY budget included amendments to the NY estate law. Under the revised laws the NY estate laws were raised from $1,000,000.00 per individual to $2,100,000.00 per individual and $4,200,000.00 respectively per married couple who have their NY wills lawyer draft the appropriate wills. As such your NY estate lawyer can currently help you pass $4,200,000.00 of NY estate assets while circumventing the creation of complicated and costly trust formation. Furthermore, the NY estate tax exemption will increase annually under the NY estate law until it mirrors the Federal Estate Tax Exemption in 2017, while rising to $6 million dollars per individual in 2019.

As a NY estate lawyer, my list of arguments against trust formation in NY is lengthy. Unless you are either filthy rich and in the .12% or attempting to apply for Medicaid benefits, an experienced NY estate lawyer should probably not be suggesting trust formation as part of your estate plan. Of course there are estate issues in your estate, which can often be addressed, in the form of a testamentary trust, a trust that is created in your will. For the most part, the majority of NY estate clients have very few estate issues that cannot be solved in a will. Regardless the status of your NY estate, a will is not only the best place to begin planning your estate but often the last.

Feel free to call the Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates for a free consultation and speak with a NY estate lawyer regarding your estate planning needs at (718) 261-2444. Our attorneys have more than 45 combined years of NY estate planning experience probating the estates for the families of New Yorkers in the counties of Queens, New York, Kings, Bronx, Nassau, Rockland, Westchester, Orange, Dutchess as well as in the State of New Jersey.

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