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What is a Beneficiary?

What is a Beneficiary?

When an individual creates an estate plan, they prepare for what happens to their assets after their death. In doing so, people often create a will or trust that ensures these possessions end up in the right hands. This allows them to distribute these belongings to the rightful beneficiaries of their choosing. A beneficiary is a person or an entity that inherits the assets of a deceased individual. When an estate goes through probate, beneficiaries often find it helpful to enlist an attorney in order to protect their rights to certain assets.

Minor Beneficiaries

When individuals leave behind their estate after death, they sometimes leave assets to young children for them to receive when they become a certain age. If a child beneficiary is left an estate, trust, or life insurance policy, a Guardian may be required to oversee and manage them until the child reaches the specified age. Sometimes this is stated in the estate, or an individual passes away without a plan. When an individual passes away without an estate, these situations can become difficult. This is why it is important for beneficiaries to have an attorney to assist them during this time.

Tax Obligation

In the state of New York, there is no inheritance tax. However, there are other tax obligations a beneficiary may have on the estate they receive. The most common tax obligations are estate taxes and federal taxes. In New York, the current state tax exemption is about half of the new federal exemption amount. This exemption is $5.25 million. This means that any estates that are worth more than that in New York are subject to the state estate tax even if they are no longer required to pay the federal estate tax. New York’s estate tax rate is lower than the federal estate tax rate of 40%. The state’s rate begins at 5% and increases to 16%.

Disputes/Contests

When an individual passes away, the will in their estate plan must go through probate. This is a process that determines if a will is a valid document or not. Sometimes, a beneficiary may be suspicious of the content in a will and believe that it did not follow the legal requirements to be created. A beneficiary may wish to contest a will is they believe the following:

  • The deceased did not sign their will
  • There were not witnesses present to the signing
  • The deceased was coerced into signing their will

If this happens, a beneficiary may contest a will to determine its validity. An experienced attorney can advise a beneficiary through this process.

Contact our Firm

If you are a beneficiary to an estate and wish to seek more information about your rights, contact The Lauterbach Law Firm today.

The Lauterbach Law Firm is proud to serve clients throughout Rockland County who are faced with legal matters related to estate planning, real estate, foreclosure defense, landlord-tenant law, business law, and criminal defense. If you require the services of an experienced team of attorneys, contact The Lauterbach Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.

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