Estate and Business Planning Legal Blog

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Benefits to Charitable Giving


Making lifetime gifts to charitable organizations, including many educational institutions that are registered as charitable organizations, offers many tax advantages.  Generally speaking, making these gifts permits one to take a deduction on one's income tax return.  Additionally, lifetime gifting removes assets from one's taxable estate.

In addition to making lifetime gifts, one can make provision in one's will or trust to leave money to charitable organizations, thus avoiding estate tax on those monies.  Often, if  a client has a taxable estate, it makes sense to leave some money to a charity instead of paying taxes to the federal and/or state government.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

How to Protect Your Assets


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. Since you still maintain control over the assets in your revocable trust, they are still 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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Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Prevent Collection Problems

It is indeed troubling when you experience a payment problem after having exerted your best efforts to render valuable services or deliver high quality goods to a customer.  Aside from the annoyance caused by non-payment, there are obvious financial repercussions as well. Fortunately, there are a number of steps one can take to minimize payment problems.

Of course, requiring potential customers to sign a simple contract with you before goods are delivered or services are rendered will help in avoiding disputes.  A contract also serves to remind the customer of his or her payment obligation and conveys to the customer that you treat your business (and payment) seriously.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Expanding & Growing Your Business: How to Avoid the Pitfalls

It is certainly an exhilarating and rewarding experience to witness the expansion of your company!  The growth may involve the hiring of additional personnel, the acquisition of computer and telecommunications equipment, the obtaining of additional customers or suppliers, and/or the addition of new product lines or services.  Being prepared for the possible legal issues which may emerge as a result of your business expansion will ensure that the experience is indeed a rewarding one.

If your company is doing business with customers or suppliers outside of New York State, the terms of the contracts which you utilize in conjunction with your dealings with them become ever so important.  For example, as a general rule, your contracts should not only be clear and unambiguous so that disputes can be avoided, but they should specifically contain provisions which state that New York law governs and the parties consent to the jurisdiction of the New York courts.  Inclusion of such language may deter the commencement of legal action by your customers or suppliers.
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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, June 14, 2017

Partnership and Shareholder Agreements: An Absolute Necessity

Successful business owners often work long and hard, focusing all of their efforts on building and expanding their businesses.  Often, owners have partners who work together amicably toward the common goal of achieving success. As a result, having a partnership or shareholder agreement in place is usually not a priority. 

The best opportunity for people to negotiate an agreement to provide for business succession is when they are working together in a cooperative fashion.  We have all heard about and seen too many situations where business owners worked together for many years successfully and then an owner becomes disabled, dies, or decides he or she doesn’t wish to work in the business any more.
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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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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Five Things You Should Consider Before Choosing a Law Firm for Your Business


Of course, the best way to find a law firm for your business is by referral.  Therefore, one should ask family, friends and business acquaintances for a recommendation.  In the absence of that, business and networking organizations are a good source, along with the internet.  No matter how you get the information you are looking for, before choosing a firm, there are a few important factors to consider.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Moving From New York to Florida

Clients frequently decide that they would like to move to the State of Florida and become Florida residents.  The reason for this is usually financial, as Florida does not have an income tax, nor do they have an estate tax.  Unfortunately, the move is often made without careful thought of the consequences of such a move.  If one simply wants to spend a good deal of time in Florida, there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  Becoming a Florida resident, however, is more 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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