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Estate Planning

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Estate planning is a complex issue, not only legally and financially, but emotionally. Although planning for your retirement may be fun, planning for your possible incapacity and inevitable death can be daunting. Also, it is difficult to be completely rational about such emotionally laden matters.


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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Purpose of Special Needs Trusts: Why Would I Want to Establish a Special Needs Trust?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in five people have special needs which means that a large number of families have a member in this category: child, adolescent, young or middle-aged adult, or elderly person. For special needs individuals who are unable to work or support themselves, the government provides disability income in the form of Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The primary difference between the two is that SSDI is available to workers who become disabled after accumulating enough work credits to qualify for the assistance.


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Friday, June 29, 2018

Naming a Trust as the Beneficiary of One's Retirement Accounts


 

There are many reasons why a client would want to leave their retirement accounts (IRA's, 401k's, TDA's, etc.) in a trust for the benefit of their heirs.  For example, if a beneficiary is under the age of eighteen (18), he/she can not legally inherit.  In addition, if the retirement accounts are sizable, most people properly do not want to leave large sums of monies to a young person.  One should also consider a trust if a beneficiary is disabled, so that the assets are controlled and protected.
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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Reasons for Creating Trusts


Why should I create a trust?

One of the primary services an estate planning attorney provides is assisting clients in creating trusts. While some believe that trusts are only useful for the wealthy, in fact trusts have important functions for anyone who is interested in effectively planning for the future. Working with a competent estate planning attorney who is tuned in to your particular needs and familiar
with the laws of the state (or states) you reside in can make a substantial difference in how efficiently your wishes are carried out and how well your loved ones are provided for.


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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Writing a Will: Why it is Necessary


 

The most important reason to have a will prepared is so that the laws of intestacy do not control the disposition of your assets. Put simply, if one dies without a will, the laws of the state one resides in determines who inherits. For example, in New York, if one dies leaving only a spouse, the spouse inherits all.  If one leaves a spouse and children, then the spouse inherits half and the children inherit the other half.  Clearly, one problem with this scheme is that you may not want to leave your assets in the manner set forth by state law.
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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Weighing the Benefits and Dangers of the Durable Power of Attorney


A durable power of attorney is a document which gives someone broad powers over your financial affairs.  Especially as one gets older, this document becomes a necessary evil.  Why is it evil?  By its nature, a power of attorney gives control to a person of your choosing to transact business on your behalf.  It gives the power to deposit and withdraw funds, change beneficiaries on ones accounts, and even to liquidate funds.  If one becomes unable to handle his or her own financial affairs, whether it be due to a temporary or permanent physical or mental disability, it is imperative that someone take over this necessary function.
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Florida Probate: Something to Avoid


 

While the probate process is usually quite simple and straightforward in New York, that is not the case in Florida.  What is probate and why does probate become necessary?  When a person passes away, there needs to be a legal mechanism for transferring assets from the deceased person to the deceased person's heirs.  Usually, that mechanism is through the use of a last will and testament, which then gets filed with the Court and the Court looks to see if the will was properly prepared and executed.  Of course, probate can often be avoided by transferring one's assets to a revocable living trust, and/or by having beneficiaries on one's accounts.  There are many reasons why the trust and beneficiary designations may not be the best choice.


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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Will Your New York Will and Other Estate Planning Documents Be Valid in Florida


 

Clients often ask me, when they are moving to the State of Florida, or considering such a move, whether the wills which they have prepared in New York need to redone.  Assuming the wills were properly drafted and executed in accordance with New York law, then the wills are valid in Florida, and in any other state for that matter.  While the execution requirements are more stringent in Florida, there is absolutely no need to redo one's New York wills, but one should be aware that when the time comes to probate the will, if that occurs in Florida, then the Court will request an affidavit from a New York attorney, stating that the will was executed properly in accordance with New York law.

While one's New York wills are valid for Florida purposes, probate is an entirely different issue.  If a former New York resident dies as a resident of the State of Florida, the law requires that the probate of the will occur in Florida.


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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Five Reasons Why it Can Be Extremely Dangerous to Put A Child's Names on Your Assets


Clients often think that putting their children's names on their savings accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate and other assets, will accomplish tax savings and protect the assets in the event they need long-term health care.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  While putting a child's name as a joint owner on an asset does avoid probate, the better option would be to name the child a beneficiary, which also serves the purpose of avoiding probate.

First, most assets are only protected for long-term health care/nursing home costs if the parents' names are removed entirely from the account or property.  Removing one's name completely, as owner, has adverse gift tax consequences, subjects one to the five-year look back for medicaid, and also means you lose total control over the assets.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Important Changes to the Federal Estate and Gift Tax for 2018



The Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed by Congress and signed into law at the end of 2017 contains some very significant changes to the federal estate and gift tax laws. For one, the unified credit for estate and gift tax–the amount you can give cumulatively during your lifetime or which you can leave at your death without incurring an estate tax–was doubled.  The increased, inflation-adjusted exemption amounts to approximately $11.2 million for an individual, or a combined $22.4 million for a married couple, and are effective for estates of decedents dying, and gifts made, after December 31, 2017.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Exploring the Many Advantages to Creating a Trust



Clients are often and understandably confused about the differences between irrevocable trusts and revocable living trusts, and the consequences they each have for asset protection, estate planning and taxes.

Those who advocate living trusts commonly lead people to believe that these trusts will reduce estate taxes and 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 maintain control over the assets in your revocable trust, they are still considered available to pay for your health care needs.  Similarly, unless a living trust creates certain types of irrevocable subtrusts, it does not reduce one’s taxable estate since the person creating the trust maintains complete control.
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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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