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Rochester Estate Planning Law Blog

Understanding living trusts and the options available

There are many estate planning devices available for New Yorkers. The individual goals and necessary strategies to achieve them dictate whether wills, trusts or other alternatives will suit the person's purposes. One option that might be useful is a living trust. Knowing when the living trust is suitable toward the individual's needs and desires and other facts about it is crucial when making the decision.

With a living trust, the person will have his or her desires as to how the assets are disbursed after death. Benefits of a living trust include avoiding probate and everything - cost, time spent waiting - along with it. The trust is not registered with the courts and this accords greater privacy. The control of the trust is the biggest benefit. An example would be a person who is leaving assets to a child, but wants a third party to oversee it until a time at which the child can take control. Most people will want to have a living trust when they are healthy and able to make determinations for the future. This can make certain the person's desires are carried out; there is a guideline as to how the assets are distributed; and it can avoid conflicts between heirs.

Preserving a legacy in an estate plan requires legal advice

Since New York is a state with such a vast array of people with different lifestyles, goals and interests, an estate plan must address the individual's needs in a similar way. For some, the estate plan requires strategies for legacy planning. With a legacy plan, the person who creates the estate plan - the testator - has it in mind to pass more than their bank accounts, property and other items in a portfolio to loved ones. Understanding how to ensure a legacy plan suits the individual's needs is one of the key factors in its success. Legal assistance toward that end is a must.

Legacy planning and its details can vary. If the testator is thinking beyond tangible property and wants to impart his or her wisdom, ensure that their values are upheld, maintain family heirlooms and keep memories alive, a legacy plan can be of immense value. Every person who is even thinking about a legacy plan will have their own reasons for doing so. It depends on the individual. Having a law firm that understands these issues and can break it down in an understandable way is invaluable.

The Intersection Of Divorce And Taxes

For many people who have never gone through the process, divorce might seem like it should be as simple as getting married. In practice, the two events have almost nothing in common. They both come with legal consequences, but that is where the similarity ends.

Divorce is a complex process while getting married is a relatively easy process. The paperwork required to complete even an uncontested, amicable divorce can push a person's patience to the breaking point. There are numerous elements to divorce that most couples never even consider when they are getting married. One of the things that needs to be considered is the tax implications that effect both parties to a divorce and its required procedural steps.

The Power Of Trusts In The Spotlight

It is nearly unheard of for the death of a celebrity to lead to positive headlines about estate planning. The typical news that follows is about who has been disinherited and what feuds arose out of the proceedings. There are several reasons why celebrity cases should not be used to present the merits of estate planning. Perhaps the primary reason is that even when a famous person executes a perfect estate plan and everything proceeds as it should, the headlines will still present it as a drama-filled debacle.

Case In Point

Strategies to care for a pet as part of an estate plan

It might sound unusual, but many New Yorkers who are taking the wise step of creating an estate plan will want to include their pets in some way. In truth, it is not unusual at all. People treat pets as part of their family and will want to ensure that the pet is cared for as part of an estate plan. There is no reason to be embarrassed about trying to craft the documents and formulate strategies to address pets. When considering it, it is critical to have experienced legal help.

When creating an estate plan, there are ways to protect a pet. One way is to use a will to give the pet to a person to care for and to provide money for the costs associated with it. This is comparable to leaving property to another person. The pet will be considered an asset along with money for upkeep. Another strategy is to have a pet trust. This can be more complicated and costly, but for people who are interested in better control as to how the pet is cared for, it is a beneficial way to do it. With the pet trust, there should be a caretaker or custodian who will address the pet's daily needs. This will require a trustee - someone who is not the caretaker - to oversee the funds for pet's care.

Handling inheritances if heirs are non-marital children

Family situations in New York can come in many shapes and sizes. Most are not neat, simple cases in which there are parents and marital children. There are divorces, remarriages, children with different parents, stepchildren, adopted children and more. While this is often handled deftly by the families, it can be a complicated circumstance when a parent dies and their estate is set to be divided and distributed to heirs. Understanding how a non-marital child will be factored in when the inheritance and personal property of the parent is doled out is critical to avoid conflict.

A non-marital child who is a legitimate child of the mother can inherit from her and the mother's relatives. A non-marital child who is a legitimate child of the father can inherit from the father and the father's relatives in the following instances: if the court made an order determining paternity or there was an acknowledgement of paternity between the mother and father and it was filed in the appropriate district; or the father signed to acknowledge paternity.

What is the relevance of the domicile in estate administration?

In New York State, the death of a loved one can be a difficult time for the family members left behind. The executor of the will, the status of the heirs and how probate administration will be handled are all issues that must be asked even in a time of sorrow. One part of the process that might not be clear is how the decedent's domicile factors in with the estate proceeding. Knowing about decedent domicile is critical to a smooth process when settling the person's affairs after death.

With an estate proceeding in which probate or a small estate are considerations, the case will be filed in the Surrogate's Court where the deceased person lived or "domiciled." It must be done in that specific county. The county will be determined by their primary home address prior to death. In some instances, the person lived in more than one place. The domicile where the person had intentions of returning will be considered the main domicile and the proceeding must be in that county.

Facing the challenges of an estate executor

With greater life experience comes greater expectations. As an individual who has faced and succeeded in their share of challenges, it is natural that the people will come to depend on you. For some, this may include depending on you to settle their end-of-life affairs, such as settling their estate.

Being assigned the role of an “executor” can be an intimidating prospect, especially if you are inexperienced in law or finances. It is now your responsibility to locate, catalog and disperse the deceased’s property and assets according to their wishes and settle any outstanding debts. Are you prepared for the task at hand?

What you need to know about becoming the guardian of a loved one

Growing older is a natural part of life, but as people age, they may struggle with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive issues. These ailments affect their brain and lead to memory loss and problems performing tasks they were previously able to perform. As the symptoms worsen, people become less able to make decisions and care for themselves.

If a loved one is suffering from one of these conditions, you are likely concerned for his or her future. You may be considering the possibility of becoming your loved one’s guardian. Here is what you need to know about becoming a guardian of an incapacitated adult in New York.

Estate planning can be different for creative people

New Yorkers and people across the nation pay attention to the deaths of celebrities. It is a natural point of interest when prominent people in any industry die, so this should come as no surprise. Also of interest is how these seemingly wealthy and accomplished individuals handle estate planning strategies. Recently, discussions over the death of Aretha Franklin were had. Since she did not have an estate plan, it could be a problematic issue for her loved ones. The same is true about the late musician Prince. For those in creative industries who might or might not have significant assets, estate planning is often shunted to the side. Knowing the importance of drafting estate planning documents can be hammered home by understanding the type of estate planning strategies that suit them.

It can be difficult to explain to a creative person how vital it is to have estate planning documents prepared. Since musicians, actors, painters, and others in these types of career paths can think in a different way from someone who is more of a blue collar worker or a tangible thinker. Therefore, their estate plans and how to convince them of their importance requires a different strategy. Helping them understand the difference between rights to a work or series of works and how to allocate their assets might take some time, but it is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of dying intestate.

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Weinstein & Randisi
290 Linden Oaks, Ste. 200
Rochester, NY 14625

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