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Portability could aid New Yorkers in estate planning

Throughout one's lifetime, the average man or woman will likely accumulate some amount of wealth. Upon one's death, depending on how this wealth was handled and distributed, it could be taxed or it could be tax-free. Proper estate planning can assist New York residents in protecting their assets for future generations.

Previously, estate planning with the use of trusts was the method of choice for distribution after one's death. However, portability now allows the deceased spouse's tax exemption to transfer to a surviving spouse. This will allow, in the event of the surviving spouse's death, for a greater exempt amount to be transferred to the beneficiary of his or her choosing. This allows for assets to transfer from one spouse to the other and for the exemption to remain intact.

Before portability, if one wanted to maintain the exemption amount, assets would need to be transferred while the individual was still living, or they were left to someone other than a spouse. It is important for each spouse to have their own will to protect assets and ensure that these assets are transferred as the individual wishes. Portability makes it possible for assets to transfer between spouses without a trust.

The decision as to whether a New York resident would benefit from a trust or through portability is one that should be carefully made. Proper estate planning will assist in protecting assets and transferring them as the individual desires. These decisions can often be complicated, and the advice of an estate planning professional may be in the individual's best interest.

Source: Forbes, Estate Planning For The 99%, Deborah L. Jacobs, Jan. 20, 2014

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