Articles Tagged with nyc estate planning attorney

With a new year comes many new changes. Now that we are already almost a quarter of the way into 2017, it’s important to look at the many options you have in the coming year to create a more comprehensive and up-to-date estate plan. Recently, we have written about ways to take care of your estate plan and important factors to keep in mind when making estate planning decisions. Below are some specific areas that you may want to consider regarding estate planning throughout the year.

  1. Review Documentation

Are all your documents complete? Are they signed where they need to be signed and placed in a secure location? An experienced estate planning attorney will review your estate planning documents for accuracy and to ensure they comply with the law, but you should be sure any additional documents – like insurance forms and beneficiary designations – are complete.

While many individuals only need to worry about personal assets, some also need to make plans for the future of their business upon their death. In fact, one of the most essential components of owning is a business is ensuring that it will remain viable should you be unable to. As businesses tend to be owned individually, they usually qualify as an asset that must go through probate. Estate planning can take into account various aspects of business ownership and help ensure that your wishes for your business are carried out as you see fit. You can nominate a person or persons to take ownership of your business, create a financial plan for your business, or do numerous other things that will ensure your hard work continues to thrive the way you would like it to. There are several reasons why it is important for business owners to make provisions for their business as part of their estate plan.

Risk

Failing to create a comprehensive estate plan for a business that you own puts your hard work at risk. A business could potentially end up in probate with various people vying for ownership, which could spell trouble for the business itself as well as its profits. You also risk your business traveling down the line of succession in New York to an individual that you may not want in charge.

Charitable contributions and gifts make up a large aspect of many estates. As with everything, there is a right way to give and a wrong way to give. Planning can help ensure that your gift is properly funded and distributed according to your wishes. This planning may include using qualified funds while you are living.

The 411 on QCDs

Individuals age 70 ½ or older are allowed under IRS rules to make direct charitable gifts from an IRA of up to $100,000 to public charities. These gifts are called qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) and are not required to report this distribution as taxable income on their federal income tax return. Historically, this tax break was voted upon and approved on an annual basis; as of 2015, it has been permanent.

Your estate plan is a way for you to make very important decisions regarding the future of your personal property, financial holdings and legacy. A proper estate plan is truly a gift. It provides peace of mind to the owner of the estate and grants family, friends, and other heirs a little piece to remember them by.

A Personal Touch

While the bulk of estate planning is comprised of official legal documents, these formalities may not be enough to convey your thoughts and wishes. Many people wish to include a letter of instruction along with their legal documents. This letter has your wishes in your own words.

Beneficiaries Often Treat An Inheritance As A Windfall And Spend It As Such

You spend your entire life working hard, accumulating wealth and you want to pass it onto your children, to provide for them and their families after you have passed. But will they appreciate your life’s earnings or will they blow through it without a second thought? Unfortunately, more likely than not any inheritance that you leave behind will most likely be spent much faster than it was earned, and the statistics are alarming.

“From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” the old saying goes and the research shows that the sentiment is true. One third of people who received an inheritance had negative savings within two years. Even if the wealth does last past the first generation to receive it, 70 percent of inheritances are completely gone by the end of the second generation.

Pets Are Often An Overlooked Concern in Estate Planning

Despite their ubiquitous presence across the United States, few people consider the needs of their pets in their estate plan. People tend to be so concerned with providing for their children and making sure that their assets are protected from taxes that they forget about the members of their family that are always there for them.

When you consider providing for your pet after you are gone, it is important to have all of the necessary information. If you are putting together an estate plan that addresses the issue of taking care of your pets, keep the following in mind.

A person planning their estate for the first time is confronted with a lot of uncomfortable questions that they most likely have never had to address. There are medical decisions to be made, executors and trustees to be chosen and appointed, burial instructions to spell out, and perhaps most importantly for some, deciding who will inherit from you when you pass on. This question can often be a prickly subject amongst families, with spouses disagreeing and children being angered by the ultimate decisions.

Someone Will Always Be Upset

There are many different strategies that testators, those preparing their will, employ in deciding who will inherit from their estate and how much they will be inheriting. Many parents are often uncomfortable with leaving their children unequal amounts of inheritance. Often testators believe that if they leave an unequal amount amongst the children that it may indicate that they loved or preferred one child over the others.

AN IMPORTANT AND SOMETIMES THANKLESS JOB

There are times in life when we all will have to do or engage in a thankless job.  One such time is when a close friend or a family member asks you to be the executor of their estate.  The difference between an executor and an administrator of an estate is small but noteworthy.  An executor is someone who is appointed by the terms of the will itself to administer the estate.  If there is a trust document to convey property to heirs, they are then known as trustee.  

An administrator is the title for the person who appointed to administer the estate by the Court when someone dies intestate, or without a will, or when the appointed executor refuses or cannot complete the task.  In either event the probate Court Judge must approve of the selection.  A recent survey by U.S. Trust found that three-quarters of high net worth individuals choose a family member or close and trusted friend to be the executor of their estate and two-thirds of the same people chose a friend to be the trustee for their testamentary trust.  The process is started when the executor presents the will and a death certificate to the Surrogate Court in the County in which the deceased resided.  The Court then issues letters testamentary to the executor, which is when the hard work begins.

COMMON PROBLEM

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.

ROBIN WILLIAMS UNIQUE ESTATE PLANNING GENIUS

This blog discussed some of the aspects of Robin Williams estate in the past. Mr. Williams will be remembered for a long time due to his many accomplishments, with a long, funny, inciteful and compassionate comedic wit. While it seems fairly certain that Mr. Williams mental state was brought on by a biological or, more accurately, a neurological condition that spawned a profound depression. Mr. Williams will also be remembered for his estate which was perhaps the first of many to come from actors, singers or other celebrities who have value in their likenesses or other unique personal attributes.

While Mr. Williams created a multi-tiered estate plan, he was sure to include the right to profit, or, more accurately, to curtail a person, company or entity from profiting from his likeness and publicity for 25 years following his death. In other words, movie studios, music producers or producers of Mr. Williams stand up comedy routine cannot take Mr. Williams image, voice or any other asset tied to his likeness or even his publicity and profit from it. While some pundits commented on the novelty of it and the breadth of the prohibition on his likeness and the length of time, it is not surprising that someone created such a blanket prohibition. Look at what the producers of Forrest Gump did with John Lennon or President Lyndon B, Johnson. To someone unaware of the times, they would be unaware that the producers of the movie morphed and cut and pasted the images and footage into the movie and could believe that Mr. Lennon or President Johnson personally appeared in the movie.

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