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Estate and Business Planning Legal Blog

Monday, May 20, 2019

Protecting Your Digital Assets


Protecting Your Digital Assets After Your Death

Although people started creating wills and thinking about post mortem asset distribution thousands of years ago, some aspects of estate planning are a great deal more current. While people have always been able to imagine and prepare for babies not yet conceived, anticipated marriages or unexpected deaths, it has not been possible to predict to plan for laws that change drastically and social norms that take a sharp turn in the future. Less than two centuries ago, for example, same-sex marriage was as unthinkable, as unthinkable as the undeniable fact that it was once legal to “own” people in this country.

Fifty years ago computers were not on the majority of desks or laps in this country and no one was yet storing important confidential financial and personal information in cyberspace. 
For this reason, it is only very recently that estate planning has come to include making arrangements for protecting digital assets as well as other property.


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Friday, May 3, 2019

Death of a Family Member: What to Do



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 needed for each asset owned.  The funeral home usually notifies social security of the death of someone collecting benefits, so the family need only notify the provider(s) of any retirement pension which was being collected, as well as the health insurance carrier.


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Monday, April 15, 2019

Should I sign a prenup?


Although prenups used to be caricatured as documents only used by extremely wealthy men or women who in their later years married much younger spouses presumed to be “gold diggers.” There was humor associated with the prospect of signing away future wealth when that wealth seemed to be the motivating factor behind the marriage. 

These days, however, when divorce is nearly as common as marriage, and almost 80 percent of divorceé(e)s remarry, prenups are taken far more seriously. Often, both would-be spouses have accumulated wealth that they want to preserve for the children of their first marriages. Also, viewing the statistics, it’s difficult for anyone to deny that any marriage may not last “until death do us part.
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Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Inheritance Rights of A Spouse--Important Facts


 

New York, like all states, provides legal protection for spouses, in terms of inheritance rights.  The provisions largely originated from the problems which occurred when a husband would die, providing the bulk or all of his assets to a female companion, thus leaving his wife and children without support.  Of course, things have changed, and the laws now apply to men and women.  Of course, the purpose of the laws is to make sure that the spouse is provided for financially.

In summary, the law provides that if one dies without a will and leaves a spouse and children, the spouse is entitled to one-half (1/2) of the deceased spouse's assets, while the children are entitled to the remainder.
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Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Basics of Staring Your Own Business



Embarking on a new business enterprise is indeed exciting.  While it is tempting to move quickly to build the business, it is imperative that the owner/operator  take care of certain details early on.  Doing so will help to ensure eventual success.  

After initially setting up the corporation or limited liability company, it is important to turn one’s attention to the contract issues which typically confront businesses.  Perhaps the first one which needs to be tackled is the commercial/office lease.
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Monday, March 11, 2019

Should I Start a Business in Florida?


As a great many New Yorkers have noticed, Florida is not just a lovely location for retirement, but provides pleasant, easy living for young people seeking a place to settle and middle-aged individuals looking to relocate. With its well-deserved reputation as “The Sunshine State,” Florida not only has a warm climate, but is much less crowded than New York and moves at a slower, more relaxed pace. What not everyone knows is that Florida is also a wonderful place to start a small business. If you are a New Yorker considering opening a business in Florida, it is essential to consult with a
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Monday, February 25, 2019

Do Snowbirds Pay Taxes Here or There?


For many people it seems that snowbirds lead a charmed life, migrating south to avoid cold New York winters and returning to escape uncomfortable Florida summers so they are always living in a pleasant climate. Even better, by having nests in both states, they always inhabit a cozy home. There are, however, a few possible snags. A major one may be failing to handle taxes properly. If you don’t work with an
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Avoiding Gift Tax Problems


 

Parents often wish to put their children on their bank accounts and investment accounts for estate and disability planning purposes.  Doing so is fraught with problems, as the child now becomes the legal owner of the account(s).  Often overlooked is that by adding a child or children as joint owners on assets, one is making a taxable gift, which must be reported to the government.  While not likely to trigger an immediate gift tax, unless the amount of the gift exceeds the unified credit for estate and gift taxes, if the amount is over $15,000 (the gift tax exclusion for 2019), a gift tax return is required to be filed and one's lifetime credit for estate/gift taxes is reduced by the amount of the gift. Even changing the ownership of one's life insurance policy, to make one's children the owner, is a gift to the extent of the cash value of the policy.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

In Focus: Irrevocable Trusts


Many individuals are aware of the importance of creating a will to ensure that their property is properly managed and distributed after they die.  However, a well-conceived estate plan will also consider other important goals such as asset protection, avoiding probate, and minimizing estate tax consequences. With the advice and guidance an experienced will and trusts attorney, you can achieve these objectives by establishing an irrevocable trust.
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Thursday, December 13, 2018

How Secrets Can Affect Estate Planning


Estate planning is, especially for those with substantial assets, a complicated process. For this reason, it’s important to have a well-schooled, highly capable estate planning attorney to guide you through. Some of the journeys are exciting -- preparing for a joyful retirement, looking forward to grandchildren or great-grandchildren, imagining the good that can be accomplished when you donate to favorite charities and the pleasures your wealth will bring to future generations of your family.
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Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Truth About Probate


The mere mention of the word “probate” usually conjures up visions of extensive delays and enormous expense in settling the estate of a deceased person.  Seminars promoting living trusts and articles and books written about them are persuasive, and they promote the misconception that probate is an evil to be avoided.  

The truth is that the process of probating a will is quite simple, at least if the decedent is a resident of New York and his or her next of kin are closer than cousins.  It involves the preparation and filing with the Surrogates Court of a probate petition and other documents which are typically prepared by an attorney. While in the past attorneys would charge fees for their services based on a percentage of the value of the estate, most attorneys today properly charge by the hour, based on the amount of work involved.
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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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