Setting Up an Irrevocable Trust in New York: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)

Are you in New York and considering establishing an irrevocable trust for your estate planning needs, particularly for Medicaid protection? Look no further, as we guide you through the intricacies of creating and managing an irrevocable trust, helping you secure your assets and plan for the future effectively.

Understanding Irrevocable Trusts in New York

Irrevocable trusts are legal entities designed to safeguard your assets and are often used for estate planning, asset protection, and Medicaid planning. In the state of New York, an irrevocable trust is one that cannot be altered or revoked without court intervention or the unanimous consent of all involved parties. This essential detail makes it a powerful tool for protecting your wealth from various risks, including long-term care expenses, estate taxes, and potential creditors.

Why Opt for an Irrevocable Trust in New York?

Medicaid Planning: One of the primary advantages of an irrevocable trust is its role in Medicaid planning. Medicaid provides crucial healthcare assistance for seniors, but it also imposes strict asset limits. By transferring your home into an irrevocable trust, you can live in it for the rest of your life without it counting as a spend-down asset for Medicaid. Plus, Medicaid cannot place a lien on your house, ensuring that your property remains within your family's hands.

5-Year Look-Back Period: To fully enjoy the Medicaid benefits, it's crucial to note that the house must be in the trust for more than five years. After this period, you're free from Medicaid's asset requirements, and your property remains protected.

Challenges and Considerations

Losing Control: Irrevocable trusts come with a significant trade-off - you relinquish control over the assets transferred to the trust. The trustee becomes the decision-maker, and your ability to modify trust terms is limited.

Specific Rules: It's essential to follow specific rules to qualify for the advantages of an irrevocable trust. Breaching these rules may result in an irrevocable trust that doesn't provide the desired benefits, making it vital to consult with experienced estate planning attorneys.

The Need for a Will in Conjunction with a Trust

While setting up an irrevocable trust is a smart move, it's not a replacement for a will. Here's why you still need both:

  1. Designating a Guardian: You cannot use a trust to name a guardian for your minor children. A will is necessary to appoint a guardian who will care for your children in your absence.

  2. Untransferred Assets: Sometimes, assets may not be formally transferred to the trust, or you may acquire new assets after establishing the trust. In such cases, a will ensures that these assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Starting the Irrevocable Trust Process in New York

The first step in establishing an irrevocable trust in New York is to contact an experienced estate planning attorney. They will provide you with an initial questionnaire and schedule a meeting to discuss your family's circ*mstances, estate planning goals, and tax considerations. With their guidance, you can make informed decisions about creating and managing your irrevocable trust.

Irrevocable Trusts vs. Revocable Trusts

It's essential to differentiate between irrevocable and revocable trusts:

  • Revocable Trusts: These trusts can be altered or revoked at any time, offering flexibility but limited asset protection.

  • Irrevocable Trusts: Once assets are placed in an irrevocable trust, they cannot be removed without unanimous consent. This type of trust provides stronger asset protection and tax benefits.


Setting up an irrevocable trust in New York is a strategic move for asset protection, estate planning, and Medicaid planning. While it comes with challenges, the advantages it offers, such as safeguarding your home and assets, outweigh the potential downsides. To ensure your trust aligns with your specific needs and goals, consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney is crucial. Secure your financial future with an irrevocable trust today.

Setting Up an Irrevocable Trust in New York: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)
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