When it comes to planning for the future, an important consideration is ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. You may also wish, however, for your distribution to remain confidential.
In New York, you can maintain privacy in post-death asset distribution through careful planning and adherence to certain legal procedures.
Revocable living trusts
Your beneficiaries can lose up to eight percent of your estate in costs and fees without an appropriate estate plan. In addition, probate makes all your records public. To reduce your taxes and maintain your confidentiality, establish a revocable living trust. Transfer your assets to the trust during your lifetime, and your beneficiaries receive them after your death without going through probate.
Many financial accounts, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts and bank accounts, allow you to name beneficiaries. These individuals will receive these assets upon your death, bypassing probate court.
Consider joint ownership of your real estate or bank accounts with the right of survivorship. Upon your death, the surviving joint owner automatically inherits the property or assets. Choose joint owners who are trustworthy and respect your wishes.
You can also gift assets to your intended beneficiaries. Although New York does not have a gift tax, the federal government does, so consult a tax professional.
Create a private letter of instruction
Consider writing a private letter of instruction that includes your personal wishes, sentimental instructions or explanations of your decisions. This letter provides additional guidance to your executor or trustee without revealing the specifics of your asset distribution.
Select executors, trustees or beneficiaries you can trust to respect your confidentiality. Open communication and clear instructions can help prevent any unintentional disclosure of sensitive information.
Learn about the applicable New York laws and estate planning tools that can help you keep your estate confidential.