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Estate Planning Insights & Tips

Free seminar: Plan to spare loved ones' worries about you

Do you ever think about what your legacy will be? By strict dictionary definition, legacy means, "a gift by will especially of money or other personal property." But legacy includes much more, such as the values you live by and that you want to convey to future generations.

Many people don't give much thought to their legacy and how to transmit it forward most effectively, or what might happen if they become unable to care for themselves in their later years. Though many estate planning tools exist, it's estimated that nearly half of Americans don't take advantage of even the most basic – the will – much less all the others. To address two common reasons for this, cost concerns and lack of information, Connors and Sullivan Attorneys At Law, PLLC, offers free seminars.

Pet owners: Why you should consider a pet trust

New Yorkers are our own breed: Our pets are our 'fur babies'. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are, unequivocally, an integral part of the family. Perhaps a tough thought, but what happens to them should you pass away?

'Month of Giving': Is it time to review philanthropy plans?

November is known as the month of giving. The reason for that is shrouded in history and tradition, but that does not diminish the fact. What makes this year different from years past, though, is that it is the first November since Congress enacted massive tax reforms.

While some research suggests the reforms aren't triggering donors to make any significant changes in giving plans, observers say it also indicates many taxpayers may not fully appreciate the implications that tax changes could have on their personal wealth and estate management plans or be aware of planning strategies available to help them meet their giving goals and achieve the tax advantages they expect.

Optimizing pension benefits for veterans and spouses

The right to independence is a core American value, something many have committed their lives to defending in service to the country. Living life independently on our own terms ranks equally high on that value scale. Sadly, aging has a way of slowly eroding our abilities to perform the basic activities of daily living.

Aware of that and the debt owed to those who braved conflicts serving in the military, Congress has created the Improved Pension Program. One specific benefit included in the IPP aims to defray the rising costs of Aid and Attendance (A&A) for many wartime veterans and/or their spouses. Many may be unaware of this benefit, however, a situation this post hopes to correct.

Recommendations for where to store estate planning documents

There are numerous reasons to develop a thorough estate plan early in life. It ensures your loved ones honor your wishes after death, but that is dependent on your family members being able to locate the documents. 

You should have multiple copies of your last will and testament as well as any other documents associated with the estate plan. Ultimately, you need to keep this paperwork in safe and easily accessible locations. In addition to making sure your attorney has a copy available, you should also keep copies in the following spots: 

Different ways to leave your timeshare

Leaving your lover is a big focus of pop music. Michael Bublé sings "It's a Beautiful Day" now that his lover is gone away. Paul Simon offers that there's no "need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free." But what if the loved thing is something only a parent could love?

Some New Yorkers find one place they know they want to return to for vacation every year and buy a timeshare. But one person's idea of heaven could be another's idea of the other place. So, how do you handle disposition of this kind of property in the context of a comprehensive estate plan? There may not be 50 ways, but there are a few you can explore with a skilled estate planning attorney.

Are heirs obligated for a deceased relative's debts?

Most of the time, relatives of a decedent bear no responsibility for debt owed by that person. However, the existence of such debt does create the potential risk of reducing the value of the estate and how much heirs receive. That's because debts of the deceased are paid for from the estate before distribution.

Trusts for pets may sometimes face tax liability

Many of us are animal lovers and non-human companions come in a lot of shapes and sizes. As we have noted in another section of our site, millions of New Yorkers have pets they love as much as (or perhaps more than) family. Understandably, it's not unusual for pets to be named as beneficiaries of estate plans, but unless it's done correctly, legal issues can arise.

The key stumbling block to ensuring the proper care of pets after the testator's death often is that the testator thinks of them as family and the law considers them property. Because of that, simply naming them in a will isn't possible. However, you can create a trust for your pet that sets aside a specific amount of money for such things as grooming, sheltering, feeding, and who will serve as the trustee to oversee all of those things.

Probate does have positive aspects

Conventional messaging around the probate process is that it is something to avoid like the plague. To that end, legal strategies and tools exist to facilitate the transfer of assets outside the scope of the court.

The main reason for the aversion to probate is that it can take a lot of time to resolve issues triggered by litigation. And, as we all know, time is money. There are also fees attached to various probate processes. That serves as another motive for taking evasive action.

5 things you may have forgotten to include in estate plans

You know estate plans are vital, and you have put in the time and effort in making yours to protect your family and money. You may think you can relax now.

Before you breathe a sigh of relief, however, make sure you have not forgotten any of these important inclusions. Be sure to make regular updates, as well, as circumstances change.

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Connors and Sullivan, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
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Phone: 718-414-6209
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Ph: 212-235-1339 
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Middle Village, NY 11379

Ph: 718-238-6500
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1250 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10305

Ph: 718-414-6209  
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