Articles Tagged with manhattan estate planning lawyer

A comprehensive estate plan is more than just a Last Will and Testament coupled with a trust. In includes important aspects that require careful planning for a long period of time. For instance, considering long-term medical care as part of your financial outlook and retirement planning is an important part of your estate plan because it can help safeguard assets and provide a source of financial support for your long-term needs so you can avoid draining assets from your estate to pay for unexpected costs. However, you should also consider planning for challenges like incapacity to ensure the integrity of your estate.

Tools for Planning

A durable power of attorney can help protect your rights and assets in the event of incapacitation. These documents nominate an individual to make important legal and financial decisions for you, especially in relation to your assets. The individual you nominate can work within the authority you provide them with to protect assets within your estate.

While comprehensive estate planning is an important discussion, it is not typically one families have while sitting around the dinner table or enjoying family game night. The fact is that estate planning can be a difficult topic to bring up, and discussions about the approaches you and your spouse will take can be even more challenging.

However, talking to your spouse about the importance of estate planning – especially if you have a family to provide for – is something that has to happen at one point or another if you and your spouse want to ensure the integrity of your estate and the assets within it. The following tips might help you broach the subject.

Be Clear About Your Objectives

The impact of the newest tax reform efforts will likely take a long time to settle in. However, there are many potential short-term changes that could impact retirees in the coming years. That means that reviewing and revising your estate plan could be an essential component of being prepared for the effects of new tax approaches. Recently, published an article giving some insight to some of these changes.

Changes to Property Tax Deductions

Under the new tax plan, only $10,000 of property tax can be deducted federally. That means that retires may more readily consider the impact this deduction has on their tax liability. Many retirees may consider moving from sates with higher property tax to ones with lower property tax in order to take advantage of the deduction but avoid spending additional money in property taxes that cannot be recouped.

While the stereotype of the wicked stepmother is – appropriately – more a figment of the movies than reality, stepmothers can and do play an important role in estate planning. Much like other members of blended families, it is important to address the role a stepmother will play when it comes to your comprehensive estate plan. Recently, Forbes published an article noting that stepmothers are often associated with challenges to an estate plan. This makes sense because, as the article notes, statistics show women live longer and often outlive their husbands. Understanding the source of some of these challenges and working with an attorney to help prevent them can be beneficial for everyone involved.

Late-In-Life Marriages and Estrangement

A common presumption when it comes to marriage that happen later in life is that one person is solely in the marriage for an inheritance, especially if such a marriage is subject to a significant age difference. Such marriages can stand to alienate children, though such alienation can occur with remarriages at any age.

Divorce is never an easy experience, no matter what age it occurs at. However, individuals going through a late-in-life divorce may be even more surprised at some of the challenges this experience can present. Many of the difficulties experienced by older individuals that make the choice to get divorced can have a significant impact on their estate plans. A recent article from provides some insight as to how a late-in-life divorce can impact your estate plan from those that have experienced it.

Difficult Job Market

While the economy may be on the road to recovery, history has shown us that can change at any moment. Even in the best of economic times, finding a job that can help maintain the standard of living you are accustomed to or want to experience can be very difficult at any age. According to individuals that provided commentary for the article, this is an exceptionally difficult task for older individuals. The problem may be compounded for spouses that have been out of the job market for a longer period of time, or who may not meet the educational requirements that many positions now demand.

There are a number of important factors to consider when it comes to comprehensive estate planning. Every family has unique needs, and every estate plan is different and designed in a way that best meets those needs. However, many estate plans include life insurance as an important component of ensuring loved ones are taken care of. While life insurance can be an important part of an estate plan, it is important to plan appropriately to make sure you can make the most out of your life insurance policy.

Life Insurance and Estate Tax

The new tax bill has raised the estate tax threshold quite a bit by doubling it to an individual threshold of $10 millions and a married threshold of around $20 million, with the actual number dependent in some part on inflation. The change in the law is not permanent, either. In fact, it will expire in 2025 absent further action by Congress.

Comprehensive estate planning is challenging, and the process is unique for every couple and individual. Most people put a lot of time and energy into crafting an appropriate estate plan, including working with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that the estate planning mechanisms they want to put in place comply with applicable law and will accomplish the person’s goals for his or her assets. We have recently written about some warning signs that your estate plan may be at risk of being challenged, but there are steps you can take to minimize that risk.

Work with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Preparation is key in estate planning. Not only can being prepared help you ensure that the assets you have worked hard for are secure, but it can also help you avoid unwarranted challenges to your estate plan. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you make sure there are no legal loopholes in your estate plan and that it complies with both federal and state law. This in itself can help avoid may challenges to an estate plan. The earlier you start to engage in comprehensive estate planning, the less likely your estate plan will be challenged on technical and legal grounds because you can avoid many claims of undue influence or issues related to your state of mind when creating your estate plan.

Estate planning is vital for all people wishing to have control over the distribution of their assets following their death. Women, in particular, should take time to plan their estates. In the U.S., women control nearly 40% of the nation’s investible assets and nearly half of those assets are managed solely by women.

Surviving Spouses

Many women outlive their husbands by a number of years. Outliving your partner tends to mean that you inherit their estate. Most spouses will be sole beneficiaries of each other’s’ estates. This means that the surviving spouse will be in full control over the final disposition of the assets. If your spouse didn’t make plans and you are aware of special instructions or requests they would have wanted, it is your job to make those plans now. For instance: if your spouse had children prior to your marriage and wanted them to have an inheritance but didn’t plan, it is now up to you to decide whether or not to include those wishes in your own estate plan.


There is much talk lately of how to deal with email, facebook, twitter accounts, et cetera of people who pass away.  For those of us who have friends or family who passed away and see their facebook account send a reminder to all of their friends on their birthday or some other event, it is nothing short of strange, even ery to see their former friend live into perpetuity in the digital realm.  Many people use it as an opportunity to post memories and give a public shout out to the living that their friend or family is still alive in their heart.  Others find the matter to be a painful memory.  

Facebook instituted a policy whereby a legacy contact can delete your account or transition the account to a memorialized account, whereby your name will be changed to a remembered account (more properly a “remembering account“).  Currently, New York does not allow an executor, or anyone else for that matter, to access the emails, online drives and various other digital accounts owned by a person after they pass away.  If it was private while the person was alive, shouldn’t it be alive after they pass away?  Yet, this is a rapidly evolving area of the law, with private corporations creating their own rules in the absence of legislative pronouncements to the contrary.   In the 2012-2013 legislative session, Representative M. Kearns introduced a bill that would address the issue of access to such accounts by an executor.


When a person receives an asset via the probate process, the transaction must be reported to the IRS, even if it does not trigger any tax liability as to the estate or the recipient.  This is because the IRS needs to track the basis of the asset to determine any net capital gains or other calculations for tax liability purposes.  Price minus basis equals profit is the rough calculation to determine how much a person realized in a sale, which in turn determines the capital gain on the sale of the asset.  

There is a tension built into the system whereby the executor wants to assign the lowest possible value to the asset, so as to keep the value of the estate low, while the beneficiary wants to have the highest possible value assigned so when they dispose of the asset in the future it will incur less tax liability.  The IRS sought to address this tension when they lobbied Congress create 26 U.S.C. § 6035, which in turn enabled them to create the new IRS form 8971.  Form 8971 requires an executor to notify the IRS which beneficiary receives what and the value of the asset.  Part of the same legislation also created 26 U.S.C. § 1014 which requires beneficiaries to use the value of the asset at the date of death for purposes of reporting basis.  This value cannot be greater than the amount that the executor reported on the estate tax return.

Contact Information