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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Recent Change to New York State Estate Tax: Gift Tax


Unlike federal law, New York State does not have a gift tax. However, up until December 31, 2018, New York State required decedents to include all gifts made within three years of death in their New York State taxable estates. As a result of a recent legislative change, this add-back rule no longer applies to decedents with dates of death after January 1, 2019.


The result is that a New York State resident may choose to gift away all of their assets during their life, and these assets will not be added back to their gross estate. Unfortunately, one must remember that New York State law and federal law differ.


Read more . . .


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Common Forms of Ownership of Property and Financial Accounts


Different forms of ownership frequently result in assets being passed by operation of law, and not according to the wishes stated in the Last Will and Testament. It is crucially important to discuss with your attorney your specific wishes and the current forms of ownership of your assets.


Property: Joint ownership of both real and personal property has been recognized for centuries. Three forms of joint ownership are recognized in New York:


1. Tenancy in Common.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

New Addition to my Firm


I am excited to announce the addition of DANIEL J. REITER, ESQ to my firm!

Daniel joins Sverdlov Law PLLC as Of Counsel. I have also joined Daniel’s firm as Of Counsel.

Our top priority has always been quality of our work and stellar client service and results. Our new Of Counsel relationship allows us to offer an enhanced array of estate, trust, special needs, and elder legal services to the community.


Read more . . .


Saturday, June 15, 2019

What is the Medical Aid in Dying Act?


Medical aid in dying is the process by which an adult, mentally competent, terminally ill patient, whose doctors have determined likely to die within six months, self-consumes prescribed medicines to end suffering and achieve a peaceful death. There are currently legislative efforts in New York State to establish Medical Aid in Dying as a right.


Has it been tried before? Medical Aid in Dying has been legal in both Oregon and Washington for over a decade. Evidence compiled from these two states demonstrates that these programs are overwhelmingly beneficial. There is no evidence of disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations - the majority of patients who choose aid in dying have health insurance and most are college educated.


Read more . . .


Saturday, June 1, 2019

How Do You Open a Safe Deposit Box After Death?


In New York, banks will seal a safe deposit box following the death of an owner or co-owner. The bank will then only allow the safe deposit box to be opened after a Court issues an order to that effect. The following are the steps you must take:


1. Identify an interested party who can petition the court. An interested party can be the  decedent's spouse, beneficiary or a named fiduciary in the Will.


Read more . . .


Saturday, May 25, 2019

It's been 3 years since my father's death and I have not received a penny from my sister who was the appointed Executor! Should I compel an accounting?


After an Executor gets appointed in an Estate, the Executor must fulfill his duties by timely marshalling of all assets, paying all known creditors and distributing the remaining money to beneficiaries. While this is what is supposed to happen, quite often it does not.


When should you petition the court to compel an Accounting by an Executor? You can do so when you believe that Executor has withheld information, or has engaged in some sort of wrongdoing (such as self-dealing or asset mismanagement). Stealing funds from the estate, selling estate property for an artificially low price, or not distributing any money for years are all good reasons to petition the court.


Who may petition the court to compel an accounting? SPCA 2205 lists individuals and entities who may petition.


Read more . . .


Saturday, May 18, 2019

How Can I Become an Administrator or an Executor of an Estate?


Probate or Administration: In New York, if the decedent had a Will and had assets that did not pass by operation of law (such as joint property with rights of survivorship or accounts with beneficiary designations), then the Will must be "probated" and an Executor must be appointed. If the decedent did not have a Will and had assets that did not pass by operation by law, then an Administrator must be appointed.

Who can file a Petition: In order to bring a petition of Probate or Administration to court, you must have standing. If the decedent had a Will, then the nominated Executor will be the one filing the petition. If there is no Will, then SCPA 1001 determines who has priority in becoming the Administrator of the Estate.

Read more . . .


Saturday, April 27, 2019

6 Ways to Coordinate Your Estate Planning with Your Financial Advisor


Essential components of every estate plan, regardless of client's net worth, include a Will, a Power of Attorney, and a Health Care Proxy. Some circumstances require the use of a Trust (for the purposes of special needs planning, asset protection, Medicaid/elder care planning, estate tax mitigation, and probate avoidance). Those with potentially taxable estates may consider strategies such as gifting, annuity trusts, charitable trusts, life insurance trusts, personal residence trusts, installment sales and promissory notes.


A financial advisor should work together with your attorney to figure out the plan that is most appropriate for your individual situation. Since most people see their financial advisors more frequently than their attorneys, it falls to the financial advisor to oversee that the plan developed with the attorney is actually implemented and remains appropriate.


Read more . . .


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Presumption of Revocation of Lost Will is Not Easy to Overcome


You must be very careful to store your Will properly, otherwise, if it cannot be found, the court is likely to consider it revoked and your assets will be distributed in accordance with intestacy rules.


In recent case In Re Scollan (2018), in which a valid Will could not be found, the court ruled that a presumption of revocation of the Will was not overcome.


There is a strong presumption that a Will known to be in the decedent's possession that cannot be located after the decedent's death was destroyed by the decedent with the intent to revoke. The retention of a copy of the Will by the decedent's attorney, decedent's statements regarding testamentary intentions, and suspicion that the Will was fraudulently destroyed (without supporting facts and circumstances) are not sufficient to overcome the presumption.


If you are afraid that your Will is at risk of being lost or destroyed (due to memory issues, the behavior of omitted beneficiaries, or any other reason), then your Will should be stored either in your attorney's office, a safe deposit box, or with a trusted friend.


Read more . . .


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.  


Read more . . .


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.


Read more . . .


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