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Estate Planning

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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Friday, October 7, 2016

Estate Planning in a Down Economy



There is no doubt that economic downturns take their toll on everyone.  Even if a parent has not been affected directly by a job loss or salary reduction, in many instances, parents are how helping their adult children who have been directly adversely affected. The mere mention of the word “probate” usually engenders a rather negative reaction. For many people, the word conjures up visions of extensive delays and enormous expense involved in settling an estate.  Seminars promoting living trusts are pervasive and they promote the misconception that probate is an evil to be avoided.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Importance of Getting Your Affairs in Order




There are a number of relatively easy steps which can be taken in order to simplify your estate plan, thus saving time and money for you and your family. 

It is not uncommon to have many separate savings accounts, mutual funds and brokerage accounts, and certificates of deposits held by a variety of institutions.  Consolidating your accounts will certainly make it easier to monitor them.  Additionally, in the event of your death or disability, it will save your heirs a great deal of time and energy in collecting and managing your assets. Eliminating bank accounts and putting those funds into investments accounts is also a good idea, since brokerage houses and mutual fund companies are usually easier to deal with than banks.
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Sunday, July 31, 2016

What to Do Upon the Death of a Loved One


 

 

Knowing what to do when a loved one dies can alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety that normally follows. Of course, funeral arrangements must be made quickly and family members must be notified.  One should order sufficient copies of the death certificate, as there may be a delay in obtaining additional copies later on. Death certificates will be need for each asset owned, as well as for filing(s) with governmental agencies.  If the decedent was collecting social security and/or a retirement pension, the appropriate entities must be notified.
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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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