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An Estate Plan document on a desk with glasses and pen New York’s statutory law of wills and trusts has remained fundamentally the same in organization and in content since the Bennett Commission completed its work in the late 1960s, except for piecemeal changes made to various areas such as the elective share, the default rules governing principal and income, and enactment of the prudent investor rule. There has not been any thorough consideration of the entire body of trusts and estates law on the scale of the Bennett Commission, which was funded by public funds, in part because there has been no similar allocation of such funds to the effort. Almost all that has been accomplished since then has been the work of dedicated volunteers.

The volunteers have been busy again and have proposed a new trust code for New York (NYTC). It is a reorganization, limited modernization, and codification of current New York trust law and, if enacted, will replace most of Article 7 of the EPTL and will become Article 7-A. Some of the most important innovations are provisions that would allow questions in a trust to be resolved without having to go to court; somewhat expanded possibilities for modification of trusts on consent; and express approval of reformation even where the terms of the trust are not ambiguous. Authorizing the creation of a trust by declaration and clarification of the level of capacity needed to create a revocable trust settled two outstanding questions under current law, and the authorization of the use of a certification of trust should simplify a trustee’s dealings with third parties.

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