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Estate Planning

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Most Americans Still Avoid Estate Planning


Based on the most recent survey, 52% of Americans do not have a Will. Usually, not having a Will also means not having a Power of Attorney or a Health Care Proxy.

When I lecture about this issue, I can talk for at least an hour about the need for a Power of Attorney and what happens when people do not have one. Main reasons to get your planning done:

  1. If you do not have a Power of Attorney, in the event of your incapacity, your family is likely to spend over $10,000 on guardianship costs and related legal fees. I’m talking about a $10,000 fee in a GOOD scenario, where everyone in the family is in agreement.
    Read more . . .


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What is a Public Administrator?

The Public Administrator is one of a chosen group of attorneys in one office per county who the Court often calls upon to administer to non-standard cases.

The Public Administrator generally has the job of handling estates of people who die without a Will and who have no close relatives who are able to administer the estate: If your nearest living relative is a cousin (or more distant) the Public Administrator will need to be placed on notice. In addition, the Public Administrator often replaces initial Executors or Administrators who are unable to qualify or unable to serve.

The Public Administrator’s job is to collect all of the assets of the estate, pay the outstanding bills and distribute the remaining money to the distributees of the deceased. The job of finding the distributees is often the most time-consuming and expensive, as distant relatives may have to be located in multiple countries with the help of genealogists or investigators.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is an Irrevocable Trust really that Irrevocable?

The word “Irrevocable” usually implies no ability to change. Most people believe that the Trustee is required to adhere to the wishes of the Trust’s creator, even though the times and circumstances have changed. Nonetheless, that is no longer true in the case of New York State.

There are two circumstances where an Irrevocable Trust may be changed or revoked.

The first circumstance exists when the Grantor of the Trust is still alive, wants to make a change and ALL the beneficiaries of the Trust agree with the proposed change.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Will Anyone Respect Your Wishes?

An incredible book that I read in the past year was “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Dr. Atul Gawande. The book is a discussion of the state of American medicine as it relates to end-of-life care. Mr. Gawande argues that doctors often cause more suffering to patients by prescribing completely unnecessary procedures at the end of a person’s life.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Be very careful about titling assets – you could disinherit your children!

I received a call this month from a man who wanted to  receive his share of his father’s building. The property had a value of approximately $4MM. There were 5 children in total, 2 from father’s first marriage (one of whom was this client) and 3 from father’ second marriage.  The caller could not understand why, after the death of his father, the property was being listed for sale by his 3 half-siblings without any input from him.

After I looked up the ownership of the property, I had to tell him the unpleasant truth: He will not get a penny from the sale of this real estate.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Are Heirs Responsible for Decedent’s Debts?

According to the most recent data from Credit.com, 73% of consumers had outstanding debt when they were reported as dead, with the average total balance of $62K. Debts included home loans, credit cards, auto loans, personal loans and student loans.

An estate is responsible to pay the deceased person’s debts. If there is sufficient money, the creditors get paid first, and the beneficiaries receive whatever remains.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Update your estate documents – or face unpleasant surprises!

In a recent case that I saw, a woman lived together with a man for approximately 10 years. She loved him very much and wrote a Will, leaving all of her assets to him. They never married.

Eventually, the couple separated. After a couple of years, the woman began dating another man.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Main Reasons Why Families Fight Over Estates

1. Location of Siblings. It is often the case that one sibling provides care and support for an aging parent, while other siblings are distant (either physically or psychologically). While the local sibling provides support, that same sibling may also control the parent’s finances. The same sibling may also bring the parent to an attorney to get his affairs in order.


Read more . . .


Monday, February 6, 2017

Top 3 Estate Battles of 2016

In 2016, several well-known families had well-publicized fights about estates. These disputes should teach everyone to plan while one has capacity!

Prince

Pop artist Prince died in April 2016 without a Will. Since his death, at least 30 individuals have come forward, claiming to be Prince’s children, spouses, or half-sibling. As of this writing, the judge on the case dismissed most of these claims. It looks like the estate, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, will be split amongst Prince’s younger sister and five half-siblings (pending the final results of genetic testing).


Read more . . .


Friday, February 3, 2017

Do your plans for 2017 include estate planning? Below are 5 tips to consider!

  1. Schedule a family meeting to discuss your assets and your wishes with them. Create an inventory of your assets and share it with your family. Don’t leave your family in the position of scrambling in their search for documents and assets in the future!
  2. Consider giving your children and your spouse passwords to your digital assets and email accounts: Your email may contain a lot of important information.


Read more . . .


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Are you at risk to have your Will invalidated?

A Will execution has many formalities - ensure that your attorney actually knows them!

Most people think that writing and signing a Will is easy. I often hear from friends "Any attorney can do it", or better yet "It's so easy, I don't need an attorney, I will do it myself".

Well, do so at your own peril. Remember that the content of your Will is only half of the calculation for getting a Will probated, since Wills can and often do get invalidated based on improper execution, particularly when the Will is executed without an attorney being present. The latest case in point: Matter of Costello, 136 A.


Read more . . .


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The Law Offices of Katya Sverdlov serves clients throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens New York.



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