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Trusts: Why would Burt Reynolds leave his son out of his will?

Following the recent death of actor Burt Reynolds, it was revealed that, although he left a will that was established in 2011, he excluded his son from it. However, this was reportedly intentional, as Reynolds chose to provide for his son in a trust. People in New York might question the reason why some choose to provide for surviving loved ones in trusts rather than wills.

The first benefit involves estate taxes, which are payable on estates that exceed $5.6 million. By instead leaving assets in an irrevocable trust, it removes them from the taxable estate and allows for other assets to form part of the exempted $5.6 million. Even though Reynolds' estimated estate value is below the exemption amount, he might not have known that when he drafted the will seven years before his death.

Another benefit offered by a trust is that it is not subject to processing in the probate courts -- which is typically a public and very long, time-consuming process. Leaving the assets for his son in a private trust was Reynolds' way to protect his privacy. Furthermore, if Reynolds left assets for his son in different jurisdictions, it could take years for the various probate courts to finalize estates, whereas leaving it in a trust makes it immediately available to his son. Furthermore, a trust also enables the grantor to ensure the assets of the trust are managed according to his or her desires. A trustee can serve as a financial manager, which is typically the route taken when trusts are established for underaged beneficiaries.

Anyone in New York who has questions about trusts and wills and the pros and cons related to each option can get the necessary information from an experienced estate planning attorney. A lawyer can provide the answers along with valuable advice based on the client's unique circumstances. Once the necessary documents are drafted, an attorney can also assist with occasional reviews and modifications to ensure life events such as marriages, divorces, births and deaths are reflected accurately.

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