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Brooklyn Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

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.

Tim Conway's Dementia Leads To Legal Battles Among Family Members -- Don't Let This Happen To You

The family of Tim Conway--co-star of the Carol Burnett Show--has recently announced that he is suffering from dementia. Progression of the disease is advanced. Conway is no longer able to take care of his own daily needs, and he is largely unresponsive.

Now, his wife and daughter have begun a legal battle over his care. Conway's wife wants to move him to a different nursing facility, which allegedly does not offer 24-hour care. Conway's daughter is opposed to this move. She wants to become her father's legal guardian and have decision-making power over his medical treatment. Regrettably, this will be settled in court, likely as a long drawn out process. 

Understanding government's 5-year look-back rule

Ensuring appropriate medical care for a loved one in old age can be a challenge. Health insurance only covers so much. Estate planning may provide the means to ensure maintenance of needed care through Medicaid, the combined state and federal government program for those in financial need, without exposing hard-earned assets to possible government recovery. But it requires careful, strategic planning that might need to be started years ahead of time

Consider the so-called "look-back" period. The government doesn't want to be on the hook for medical care delivered under Medicaid if it can show that you had the financial wherewithal to cover some of the expenses. So, when officials receive an individual's application for coverage, auditors have authority to look back as much as five years into the person's financial history and assess penalties against monetary gifts or asset transfers made during that time.

Make estate plan review a matter of habit

Many in New York City don't have wills. Few have any valid excuse for being in that situation. If you work, are investing money for retirement and care for the welfare of your family, you should have a plan. If you have complex assets, it is even more important to create a plan. If you are one of those who has good planning intention but hasn't followed through, it's time to get a move on.

And once you have cleared that hurdle, consider developing a habit of performing regular reviews, because as good as that plan is today, it might not be tomorrow. The general guidance from many experts is that you plan deserves review every three to five years. It can be done more often than that and should certainly be done whenever a major event in life takes place.

The 'death tax' is dead. The need for estate plans remains

This is a midterm election year. Among accomplishments claimed by the Republican Party controlling national government is the passage late last year of major tax reform. As we noted in a previous post, the package contains a great many benefits, not the least of which is the passing of what is commonly called the death tax; the levy governments use to tax benefits transferred to a decedent's heirs and beneficiaries.

As welcome as the action is, it's important to remember it only applies to federal taxes. And as we observed, it is temporary. It rises from the dead in just a few years unless Congress takes more action. Not surprisingly, amid midterm campaigning Republicans in the House say they are working to make some changes permanent.

Estate planning is more than just protecting your assets

You may be procrastinating about developing your estate plan, thinking that you are not wealthy and do not have a lot of assets, so why would an estate plan be important?

The reasons may surprise you. You probably have more assets to protect and pass on to your heirs than you think. Here are three reasons to take action and put a plan together.

To understand trusts, beneficiaries benefit from some key facts

Planning is a good thing. Not everyone likes it, but in the face of the inevitable and to ensure that assets representing one's legacy continue to serve the well-being of intended beneficiaries, few can dispute the value of the proposition.

The problem is that the best laid plans can go awry. Estate plans made up of wills, trusts, and other legal tools require surrogates to act on behalf of the grantor's wishes, and if those surrogates don't have a clear understanding of the trust, it could prove the plan's undoing.

What are common reasons for probate litigation?

Are you confused about estate planning? You are not alone. There are so many facets of law that can influence the formation of a solid plan.

Many believe a simple will covers the bases. That might be true sometimes. But a great deal can happen in your life in a short period of time. A will written 15, 10 or even five years ago, might not reflect today's reality. And then, there is the issue of probate.

What can a supplemental needs trust pay for?

Ensuring the well-being of loved ones incapable of caring for themselves is one of the greatest challenges any New York City family can face. If the onset of the incapacity is the result of some unexpected catastrophe, such as a near-fatal accident, concern about how to meet care costs can infringe on the delivery of that care.

One possible way to alleviate that concern may be through a supplemental or special needs trust. Whether it is a worthwhile tool for your situation is something to explore with a skilled estate planning attorney committed to providing clear and effective guidance to achieve your unique needs and goals.

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