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Estate Planning

Irrevocable Trusts and the Grantor Trust Rules

Irrevocable Trusts and the Grantor Trust Rules

For many clients the idea of creating and funding an Irrevocable Trust with an end goal of protecting assets should the need for long term care arise raises questions and concerns about the potential tax implications. Specifically, questions surrounding taxation of the assets that are transferred to the trust and concerns about losing property tax exemptions such as STAR and Enhanced STAR are common in our practice.  Although there is some truth to the idea that there could be negative hi more »

Guardianship Options

Guardianship Options

Q: I have a daughter that is 18 years old and has Autism. I know that I need to become her guardian to make decisions for her, but I am not sure about the options.  Can you explain them to me? A: In New York State, when a person turns eighteen, they are presumed to be legally competent to make decision for themselves. However, if a person is intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled, as defined by Article 17-A (“Article 17-A”) of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure more »

Guardianship Article 17-A vs. Article 81

Guardianship Article 17-A vs. Article 81

In New York State, when a person turns eighteen, they are presumed to be legally competent to make decision for themselves. However, if a person is intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled, as defined by Article 17-A (“Article 17-A”) of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, a parent or concerned relative can ask the Surrogate's Court to appoint a guardian to assume the decision-making functions for that person. If a young adult has issues with mental illness or other more »

Sweetheart Wills

Sweetheart Wills

Question: My husband and I did Last Will & Testaments when our children were young – probably about 20 years ago.  Is there any need to update? Answer: In our practice, we see a lot of Last Will & Testaments that were executed when a couple was younger that were appropriate when drafted but outdated.  Your Last Will & Testament probably leaves everything to each other and then to your children.  This is referred to as a “Sweetheart Will.”  While more »

Death of a Gun Owner

Death of a Gun Owner

Q: My father died and owned a gun.  I was named as the executor on his Last Will and Testament.  What should I do with the gun? A:When a gun owner dies, New York law states that the “person in charge of the decedent’s personal belongings” within fifteen days of the death of the gun owner must either: 1) lawfully dispose of the gun(s); or 2) turn the gun(s) over to the police.Failure to do so can result in criminal liability. Fifteen days is not a long time, especiall more »

Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts and Taxes

Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts and Taxes

Question:  My mother has a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust and her house has been owned by this trust for 6 years.  She purchased the house in 1980 for $30,000. It's now worth $400,000. What will be the tax consequences if she sells the house while she is alive? What if we sell it after her death?  Answer:  First, let me say that an attorney should review the trust.  Not all trusts are the same and the answer to your question depends upon what terms are contained in th more »

Wills vs. Account Beneficiaries

Wills vs. Account Beneficiaries

Q: I recently signed a last will and testament but it does not list out my assets individually, is that alright? What about my retirement accounts and annuities? A: A last will and testament is a document that states to whom your assets will be distributed upon your death. However, any asset that has a named beneficiary or a joint owner will go to that designated person, not to the persons listed in your last will and testament. When you are meeting with your estate planning attorney, it is ess more »

Estate and Gift Tax Update 2019

Estate and Gift Tax Update 2019

Q: Can you tell me about any updates to estate and gift taxes for 2019?    A: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”) increased the federal estate tax exclusion amount for decedents dying in years 2018 to 2025. The exclusion amount is for 2019 is $11.4 million. This means that an individual can leave $11.4 million and a married couple can leave $22.8 million dollars to their heirs or beneficiaries without paying any federal estate tax.  This also means that an individua more »

Trust vs. Life Estate

Trust vs. Life Estate

  Question:  My parents are concerned about protecting their home.  Some people have recommended that we consider creating a trust while others have suggested that they transfer to house to me and my siblings and retain a life estate, which is a better idea? Answer:  This issue comes up often in our practice.  For starters, an explanation of the two planning tools is probably necessary so that you can make the choice that is best for you.  A deed with a life estat more »

Updating Your Estate Planning Documents

Updating Your Estate Planning Documents

Q: I signed my will 10 years ago when I was 58 years old, do I need to update it?   A: The short answer is “maybe”, but you should definitely visit a lawyer to review your plan.  In general, we suggest clients review their estate plan every five years or after a major life event.  Such events include marriages, divorces, births, deaths, retirement, sale of your home, etc.  If you are in your late 60s you have either started to receive Social Security Retirement more »

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