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Estate Planning Insights & Tips

Three reasons young families need an estate plan

Estate planning is not just for senior citizens or those preparing for retirement. Three reasons even young families need an estate plan include:

  • Control. If you do not put together an estate plan, the state will. State law will govern the distribution of assets for estates that have no plan. In many cases, this means assets will go to a spouse if a spouse is present. If not, the assets generally go to parents or siblings. You can circumvent this system by drafting an estate plan.

How to protect your children with an estate plan

Are your children protected if something happens to you? This is a difficult but necessary question every parent should ask. Estate planning is one of the best ways to protect your loved ones now and in the future. This is especially true for protecting your children in the event something happens to you.

What to include in your estate plan

The importance of 'keeping it real' in estate planning

The major holiday gift giving period is largely over. Hopefully you got all that you hoped for. In some families, some fun may have been had by exchanging so-called white elephant gifts. What that means is that someone might have wound up with one of late Uncle Murd's special collectibles, like the "Oh, So Comfy" Dachshund plate.

Uncle Murd loved dachshunds. And he lovingly kept that plate on his wall, in its special frame with the limited-edition certificate of authenticity (COA) clipped to it, so he probably felt it was worth something, or would be someday. As we have written about before, though, this can be a tricky area in the context of estate planning. While Murd found the dog endearing and the plate special, they became white elephants for relatives after he died. Maybe if it were worth something, views would be different.

Holiday family gatherings are great opportunities for discussing future plans

December offers many opportunities for family to gather and celebrate the holiday season. It's also a time when adult children, dispersed by life's demands, often return under the same roof as their aging parents. While it's still wise to avoid discussing politics and religion at the table, it can be the perfect time to bring up practical issues concerning plans for the future.

Here's why adult children should address proper estate planning this holiday season. Holiday family gatherings are great opportunities for discussing future plans ...

Year-end business radar should include a tax advantage sweep

Headlines at the end of 2017 heralded passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many of the provisions of that law carry implications as we close out 2018. As a New York business owner, are you up to speed on the implications of the reforms for your situation?

While the tax changes promise cuts of about $1.5 trillion, most experts agree the tax filing processes remain as complicated as ever. That suggests that the time is ripe to year-end review, in consultation with an experienced tax law attorney, to determine what steps might deliver the greatest tax benefits now and in the year ahead.

What is a health care proxy and why should you have one?

Do you know what will happen to you if you become incapacitated? What type of medical care will you receive and who will be responsible for making decisions for your care? These are important questions to answer before it’s too late.


Wealth is not a requirement for asset protection

There are a few things required to justify creating an asset protection plan. Contrary to what most people think, being as rich as a Rockefeller is not one of them. More important is to appreciate that life is about more than the here and now. If you are married, with or without children, you can make creating an inheritable legacy through various legal tools part of a comprehensive estate plan. If you are single, a trust could help cover your financial needs in old age.

Specific to trusts, because of the legal ins and outs, you want to be clear on the reason for setting one up. This is best done with an experienced attorney. Once you have a reason, you will want to explore all options. And while some trust providers set an out-of-reach minimum amount to create a trust, there are some that can be set up for just a few hundred dollars and then bolstered with regular contributions over time. Obviously, the earlier you start the process, the better the trust's funds will be.

Estate plan options for handling personal collections

When you think of collectors the first thing that might come to mind is art. Stamps or coins might surface next, along with comic books, cars and baseball cards. But anything can be the object of personal passion. What qualifies can seem odd to others, but to the one doing the collecting, the process is one that feeds his or her joy.

Regardless of the reason for collecting, the reality is that the pieces accrued can be part of a personal legacy. They certainly have emotional value to the collector. If they happen to also have monetary value, they may prove to be a significant part of a personal estate; something worth bequeathing. This is one more argument for proper estate planning and the inclusion of provisions for handling collections.

Who has rights to a copy of a decedent's will?

Trust, but verify. That's an adage that comes to us from Russia. Ronald Reagan made it famous during his presidency, using it often in connection with nuclear disarmament talks.

When it comes to the disposition of wills and other elements of a New York estate plan, it might be understandable for members of a decedent's family to want to apply the same wisdom to be sure that asset distribution goes according to the creator's wishes. The easiest way to achieve this might be for the executor to simply distribute copies of the documents. Whether that happens or not depends on a number of factors.

The difference between mental capacity and undue influence

Whether you have reason to contest a will or you are an individual with fiduciary responsibility to another's estate faced with defending such challenges, it is important to understand how the law can influence the proceedings.

Challenges to the various transactions that can make up an estate plan are not uncommon in New York, especially when one of the parties is elderly or infirm. Whether the instrument is a will, some kind of trust, a second marriage, or something else, when challenges surface they typically include the claim that the plan's signatory lacked necessary mental capacity to agree to it, and/or that the plan reflects the undue influence of some other party. However, while both might be raised, they might not always be applicable. So, consulting an attorney is essential.

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