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Estate Planning

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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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beware the Dangers of Joint Ownership and Beneficiary Designations



It is quite common for a parent to put a child’s name on his or her checking account, savings account, or brokerage account, with the intent of making it easier for the child to access funds in the event of the death or disability of the parent.  Sometimes this is also done because a parent believes that by adding the child’s name to an asset, he/she is protecting the asset from taxes and long-term care costs.  While the purposes for which this is done may be well-intended, adding a child’s name to one’s assets can have serious, unexpected and undesirable consequences.  

By putting a child’s name on one’s accounts, you are making that child a joint owner with the power, during your lifetime, to withdraw monies from these accounts.  Even though you may trust your child implicitly, you need to be concerned about the unintended consequences of making the child an owner.
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Minimizing Estate Taxes: Some Simple Techniques


As of January 1, 2016, the amount of money which you can leave to your family and friends at death-- the “unified credit”-- is $5,450,000 at the federal level. This credit may also be used to make gifts while you are alive.  Most states impose their own estate tax and/or inheritance tax so one needs to research what the applicable state exemption is as well.

Of course, the easiest way to reduce your taxable estate is to make gifts of up to $14,000 per person each year. These annual gifts are tax-free and they do not reduce your unified credit amount.


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IRS Circular 230 disclosure: We inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and may not be used by your or anyone else for the purpose of avoiding penalties imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.


                                                     



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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Probate: Dispelling the Myths



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.

The truth is that the process of “probating” a will is quite simple, at least if the decedent is a resident of the State of New York.  It involves the preparation and filing with the Surrogates Court of a probate petition and other documents which are typically prepared by an attorney.
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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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