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Estate Planning

Monday, July 31, 2017

Creative Uses of the QTIP Trust


A Qualified Terminable Interest Property ("QTIP") Trust is a common estate planning tool in second marriages.  Essentially, a QTIP trust ensures that a person's assets will go to their children (or other next of kin) rather than to their new spouse, while providing an income stream to the new spouse.  The Trustee of the QTIP can also have some discretion to distribute principal to the new spouse, if necessary.  One of the problems the QTIP seeks to remedy is in the case of where one person dies, leaving all or most of their assets to their spouse, assuming that spouse will then leave the assets to the first person's children. Not too infrequently, the new spouse may not have a close relationship with his or her stepchildren and, so, changes his/her will to eliminate them.
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Necessity of Reviewing Your Estate Plan


It is important to review all of one’s estate planning documents, from time to time, to see if the contents of the documents still adequately reflect one’s wishes.  At a minimum, your will, health care proxy, living will and durable of power of attorney should be looked at by an experienced attorney, to make sure the documents have been properly prepared and that no revisions are needed due to changes in the law.

In addition to reviewing and updating your will and other estate planning documents, it is essential that you periodically check your beneficiary designations on annuities, life insurance policies, IRAs and other types of retirement accounts, to ensure they properly reflect your desires and estate planning goals.  Clients often overlook these beneficiary designations, and assume that the terms of their will or trust will determine where these assets pass.  The fact is that beneficiary designations essentially supersede the terms of any estate planning documents which have been prepared.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Five Simple Ways to Reduce Your Estate Tax Liability


While there are very sophisticated estate planning techniques used to reduce one's taxable estate, while the client is living, there are also some simple, inexpensive ways to do so.  Yes, attorneys can establish all types of trusts for clients, in order to shelter assets from estate taxes, and those trusts are certainly useful, but things don't have to be that complicated.  Here are just a few easy ways to accomplish your goals.

1.  Annual Gifting:  Each person can give the sum of $14,000 per individual each year, without having to report the gift on a gift tax return, and without it reducing the donor's unified credit for estate taxes.


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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Probating Wills and Administering Estates in Florida and New York


 

It sometimes seems confusing to clients to find out that the probate process (the court process one needs to go through when a person passes away and leaves a will) and the administration process (when one dies without a will) is different in every state. While there are many similarities in the process, some states have more streamlined processes than others.

Surprisingly, New York is one of the easiest states to probate a will and administer an estate, while Florida is one of the most difficult.  If one is a snowbird, spending time in each state, the question becomes, in what state is the will probated or the estate administered?  This is determined by the residency one declares while one is alive.  Having said that, however, caution must be taken when giving information for the death certificate, because the state you put down for residency there will often control where the procedure must occur.
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Medicaid Trusts: The Pros and Cons



Clients are often confused about the differences between irrevocable trusts and revocable living trusts, and the consequences they each have for medicaid planning.  Those who advocate living trusts commonly lead people to believe that these trusts will protect one’s assets in the event long-term health care is needed. While living trusts serve the purpose of avoiding probate, they do not protect your assets.  Quite simply, if your assets are readily available for your own use, which is the primary benefit of a revocable trust, then those assets are also considered available to pay for your health care needs.  The only way to protect assets from long-term health care costs and creditors is to transfer assets to family members or to an irrevocable medicaid trust.
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

How Life Insurance Fits Into One's Estate Plan


 

There are many reasons why one might obtain life insurance and the purchase of such insurance should seriously be considered when doing estate planning. The most common situation where life insurance is necessary is in the case of a couple who has young children.  In that situation, it is common for one or both spouses to obtain term insurance, which is generally not terribly expensive but lasts only for a term of years, to provide the funds necessary to raise the children if something were to happen to one or both parents. While there is no cash value to such policies, the cost is considerably less than whole life  and variable insurance and it covers a temporary need.

Life insurance is also an important component of the estate plan of someone who may have substantial assets but whose assets are not liquid.
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Elder Law Planning Basics


The terms "elder law" and "elder care" have become popular, catchy phrases people now use, to describe an array of planning techniques that are available to people as they age.  Very basically, elder law planning involves having the proper legal documents, such as a will, health care proxy, living will and durable power of attorney. The purpose of these documents is to protect oneself in the event of disability and death.

In fact, the health care proxy, living will and power of attorney are probably more important to have than a will.  Why is that so?  Because if you become disabled and you do not have the proper documents in place, your family will likely wind up in court, commencing a guardianship proceeding to have you declared incapacitated, and to give them power to make decisions on your behalf.
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Estate Planning for Snow-Birds


It is not uncommon for New Yorkers to spend a few months in Florida or in some other state, especially during the winter season.  These New Yorkers are commonly referred to as “snow-birds” or “dual residents”.  If you are a dual resident, there are some relatively easy steps you should take in order to ensure proper planning for health, disability and estate matters.

A question frequently asked by people who move to other states is whether or not a last will and testament prepared and executed in New York will be valid in those other states.  Generally speaking, the answer is yes, at least in Florida.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

What to Do When Your Spouse Becomes Ill

Knowing what to do when a loved one becomes ill can alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety that normally follows. Oftentimes, people panic and start making changes to their estate plan without first consulting with an experienced attorney or tax advisor. Family, friends, and others who want to help, tend to give well-meaning advice. They may suggest putting assets into the name of the well spouse alone, transferring assets, and/or adding or changing beneficiaries to accounts.  Following such advice without considering the tax and other consequences can have unintended, adverse consequences.  One should not begin to make changes to bank accounts and other investments unless and until all of the tax implications have been examined.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Conducting a Periodic Review of Your Estate Plan

It is important to review all of one’s estate planning documents, from time to time, to see if the contents of the documents still adequately reflect one’s wishes.  At a minimum, your will, health care proxy, living will and durable of power of attorney should be looked at by an experienced attorney, to make sure the documents have been properly prepared and that no revisions are needed due to changes in the law.


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Long Term Health Care Planning: How To Protect Your Home

It is a well-known fact that nursing care, whether rendered at home or in a nursing facility, is extremely expensive. Even if one possesses substantial assets, those assets will be eroded quickly as a result of spiraling health care costs.  Often, the most significant asset owned by the person needing such care is the family home.  Therefore, it is important to take steps to ensure its protection.


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At the Law Office of Angela Siegel, we are pleased to offer legal assistance to clients located in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Kings and New York Counties specifically but not limited to Garden City, Jericho, East Meadow, Mineola, Syosset, Roslyn, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Hicksville, Plainview, Merrick, Wantagh, Bellmore, Rockville Center, West Hempstead, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Astoria, etc., as well as clients located within the state of Florida.



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