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Estate Planning

Saturday, March 23, 2019

7 Tips for Keeping Trusts Flexible in a Rapidly Changing World

One hundred years ago there were no commercial airplanes, women couldn't vote, the average family had 5 children, divorce was rare, children born outside of marriage had no inheritance rights, and surrogacy was virtually unheard of. In 2019 we have same-sex marriage, flexible gender identity, assisted reproductive technologies, digital assets, cryptocurrencies and an epidemic of lonely seniors. What will our society be like in 20 years?  The pace of change is increasing, so while you draft your documents today, make sure that these documents are sufficiently flexible to adapt to our unknown future.  


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Saturday, March 16, 2019

A To-do List To Protect The Identity Of A Loved One Who Passed Away

Unfortunately, identity theft is rampant and it doesn’t only involve the living.  

Here's an important checklist to ensure you aren't made vulnerable.


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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes That Everyone Can Learn From

James Gandolfini: No Need to Pay Extra Taxes

The actor and producer most renowned for his role as mafia boss Tony Soprano left only 20% of the estate to his wife. The remainder was left to his children, friends, and relatives. Since his estate was above the estate tax threshold, the result was that approximately 55% of the estate's money went to pay the taxes and fees! 

He could have avoided this onerous payment. It would have been done by gifting assets during life, leaving more money to his wife directly (there is an unlimited marital deduction for a US citizen spouse) or by setting up a specialized trust which gave income for life to his spouse but left her with no control to dispose of the assets upon her death. 

Either way, with proper planning, millions of taxes could have been avoided. 


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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Estate Planning for 21st Century Families: A Primer


As families continue to change and evolve, so do estate planning policies. In 2019, when we discuss estate planning, we must account for a broader definition of family than ever before. Here are several issues to look out for when planning for the future.

 

Marriage: The first issue concerns marriage; specifically, who is a Spouse and whether or not a person is legally married.  Legal  marriage is usually determined in accordance with  state law.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Top 5 Estate Planning Hacks for 2019


1.    Most people in New York need not worry  about federal or state estate tax. In 2019, the federal estate tax exemption is now $11.42MM per person. The New York State estate tax exemption is now $5.
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Thursday, January 3, 2019

CryptoWills: What They Are and How They Work


More than 50% of the adults in the US do not have a Will. Most assume that that they do not have enough assets to bother with one, or that they will write one when they are older. Yet dying without a Will results is going to result in the person’s assets being divided in accordance with the state’s laws rather than the person’s own wishes. As a result, not having a Will leads to delays, expenses, and family battles, not to mention hours of headaches and paperwork..


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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

What to Know About Tax Implications of Buying, Owning, and Selling Cryptocurrency


 

Buying, owning and selling virtual currency is all subject to the IRS supervision and must be recorded and reported properly to avoid severe tax penalties.

1.      Characteristics: Virtual currencies are treated as property, as opposed to currency for federal income tax purposes. As a result, basic tax principles applicable to property transactions also apply to Bitcoin transactions.


2.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Regular Wills vs. Crypto Wills


Most people want to pass down their assets in accordance with their wishes, with minimal costs, minimal delays, and minimal strife amongst the heirs. Yet there are several problems with using traditional Wills to accomplish these goals. These problems include: not having one’s wishes honored because of losing one’s Will; or having your the Will challenged by heirs; not addressing the distribution of all the of your assets because the Will was written years before death and new assets have been acquired; and high costs of lawyers, h costs needed to pay to lawyers, courts, and executors to finalize the Will.

CryptoWills, which use blockchain, may address some of these problems. First, if the data is stored on blockchain, it cannot be lost.
Read more . . .


Monday, November 26, 2018

5 Things to Do Immediately to Protect Your Digital Assets, Including Crypto-Currency


 

Once you stop to think about it, you might will realize you have more digital assets than physical ones. These include online banking and brokerage accounts (banking and brokerage), photo storage sites, social media accounts, and cryptocurrency. If you were to die tomorrow, does anyone have the right to possess these accounts? Will they know the necessary steps to access them?

Online providers handle the accounts of deceased users differently. Some, (like Facebook,) have created a legacy contract, which enables one to designate a person to manage one’s account after death. Others do not have such a clear policy, and there are federal laws (such as The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and The Stored Communications Act) that severely limits provider’s’ ability to share personal account information with others.
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Friday, September 28, 2018

Snowbirds? Consider differences in State Law

If you spend some time in New York and some time in Florida, you may wish to consult your accountant about determining your domicile (as, depending on the answer, you will owe very different taxes). You may also think about consulting with two different local attorneys regarding your estate planning, as both New York and Florida have real differences in Will execution formalities, asset and homestead protection, Health Care and Power of Attorney languages, Medicaid eligibility rules and estate taxes. Consider this non-exclusive list of differences:


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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Must an Executor or a Trustee provide an Accounting?


Being an Executor of an Estate or a Trustee of a Trust comes with having fiduciary responsibility to the ultimate beneficiaries. One such responsibility is to provide an accounting: a report of all the revenue and expenses.

There are several instances where an accounting might be done:

  1. Usually, the Executor or a Trustee will provide an informal accounting prior to making the final distribution from the Estate or the Trust. As part of this process, the Executor or Trustee will ask the beneficiary to sign a Release and Waiver Agreement, designed to protect the Executor or Trustee from liability.

  2. Sometimes, the beneficiaries may request an accounting.
    Read more . . .


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