August 2nd, 2012
A reverse mortgage is a means by which seniors utilize the equity in their homes. The equity is turned into cash. It can be used to supplement social security, pension payments, and 401K plan withdrawals. In most situations, the proceeds of a reverse mortgage are taken out in a lump sum. Arrangements can be made to have periodic payments over the period of your life, too.
The big benefit of a reverse mortgage is you don’t have to repay it during your lifetime. It gets repaid upon your death. The drawback of a reverse mortgage is it tends to have a higher interest rate than conventional mortgages. In addition to interest payments and an annual insurance charge, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s home equity conversion reverse mortgage program level an initial one time insurance premium from 2% to .01% on your home’s value. It should be noted as with any mortgage, there will be closing costs regarding reverse mortgages.
Whether you take out a reverse mortgage or not is a complicated question. You should meet with an estate planning attorney. Discuss your finances and the consequences of a reverse mortgage before proceeding to take one out.
July 24th, 2012
Planning for retirement is difficult. Today, nest eggs are much smaller than they have been in the past. Many individuals and families plan for retirement at the last minute. This can cause problems.
Save And Invest
Americans need to save today, not tomorrow. It takes a lot of will power to forego today’s pleasures and have money for the long run.
Retirement Is Not A Permanent Vacation
Some TV advertisements present retirement as a permanent vacation. You see pictures of individuals playing golf in a Shangri-La type atmosphere. Americans are living longer today. The Shangri-La atmosphere presented in those pictures can become boring and stale. Even if you can afford living in a retirement community of that type, life expectancy can stretch retirement for as long as thirty or forty years.
A Study by Fidelity Investments indicates a couple who are 65 years of age when they retire will need more than $250,000 to pay for medical expenses throughout their retirement. These medical expenses do not include nursing home care. The study found the average medical expenses for a 65 year old couple amounted to more than $530 per month. It should be noted Medicare is not free and doesn’t cover all medical expenses!
Be Careful With Your 401K Plan
A 401K Plan is retirement plan. Many people borrow large sums from their 401k plans and are not able to pay these sums back. Depleting your 401K plan can have a significantly negative impact on your ability to retire.
Be Careful Of Your Priorities
Steven Cuhna, a certified financial planner with Bay Street Financial Services, suggests you remember the 5 P’s regarding retirement, Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. You should have a plan that analyzes your financial goals, retirement needs, investment and estate plan. You may live a long time but you will not live forever. Having a will and/or irrevocable trust may be necessary to help you preserve your assets. Another solution is to never stop working!
March 22nd, 2012
Justice Alexander W. Hunter sitting in the Supreme Court, Bronx County recently had an unusual case presented to him. A daughter brought a proceeding in a guardianship. She requested the court take action to prevent a court appointed guardian from retaining an attorney to draft and execute a new Last Will and Testament for her father. She took this action because she felt the drafting of this new Will would not be in the father’s best interest.
Justice Alexander Hunter denied her request. In his decision he stated that her arguments were a regurgitation of allegations she made in her initial petition to be appointed the father’s guardian. The court had initially found that the father required the appointment of a guardian of both his person and property. But the court’s decision stated that the court evaluator believed that the guardian should keep the father involved in the decision making processes. He also stated in his decision that the guardian should give the father the greatest amount of independence and self determination with regard to his property management and the maintaining of his personal needs. The court felt that the father’s drafting a new Will and Testament possibly “opened the door to potentially costly and protracted litigation post mortem as being speculative.”
The law offices of Elliot Schlissel have over 100 years experience in the preparation and submission of guardianships to the courts to the courts throughout the metropolitan area. There are two types of guardianships under Article 81 of the New York Mental hygiene Law and Guardians under the Surrogates Court Procedure Act under Article 17-A. The law offices of Elliot Schlissel have extensive experience in handling all aspects of Guardianship petitions on a regular basis in the courts throughout the metropolitan New York area. In addition our law office drafts Wills and Trusts and probates Wills. We assist our clients in Estate Planning matters. We represent Executors in Estates. We also draft Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Living Trusts and engage in all aspects of Medicaid Planning. In situations involving Special Needs children we draft Special Needs Trusts which are also known as Supplementary Needs Trusts.
March 1st, 2012
Computers codes are the new frontier concerning Estate Planning issues. Should a senior become disabled, uncommunicative or die, access to his or her online accounts are creating major estate planning problems. Without the password to an online account it is virtually impossible to get into the account. Yahoo and Google will only provide passwords if court orders are obtained.
It used to be if someone became disabled or died you would go through their papers or review their mail to ascertain where their assets were maintained. Today, most Americans maintain their assets in online accounts that are only accessible by user codes and passwords.
If it should become necessary to obtain a court order to obtain the passwords to an account of the deceased, it may take months to get the proceeding through the courts. If there are no written records, family members and loved ones will be unable to obtain information from the bank account of seniors who become disabled or have passed away.
Hiring Computer Forensic Experts
If you need to get into the account of a loved one and you do not have access to his or her account name and/or password it may become necessary to hire a computer forensics expert to break into the hard drive to find the necessary information. This can take weeks and involve a considerable expense.
Inventory of Computer Codes
John Ramano, the co- author of “Your Digital Afterlife” suggests that each individual write out an inventory of financial online assets. This inventory should include usernames and the passwords that go with each username. He recommends these computer codes be maintained in a secure location such as home safe or a bank safety deposit box.
Web Based Companies
Another approach is to maintain the services of web based organizations that store information concerning online assets. The organizations such as Entrustet and Legacy Locker will permit access to this web based information to authorized individuals.
There is a program call Last Pass. This allows an individual doing an estate plan to create a master password. The unlocking of this master password by an authorized representative or family member opens up a digital asset list which is created by utilization of the Last Pass software program. This software can also be accessed by handheld electronic devices such as telephones, personal computers and iPads.
The Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel has more than thirty years of experience in handling all types of Estate related matters. We probate Wills. We litigate Will contests. We draft Wills and Trusts. We create guardianships for clients. We have developed expertise concerning Estate Tax issues, Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Elder Care issues, nursing home abuse matters, Medicaid, Medicaid planning techniques, Special Needs Trusts and Supplement Needs Trusts for our clients. Call us for a free consultation. Our phones are monitored 24/7. We can be reached at 1-800- 344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.
January 10th, 2012
End of life issues are difficult to face. Everyone that lives will eventually die. If you want to make your own choices as to how you’re cared for, should you become gravely ill, it is important that you have a Living Will. A Living Will is an advance directive that explains to your loved ones and your physicians what type of life prolonging medical treatments you want and don’t want if you become incapacitated, are placed on a resperator, or are unable to express your concerns due to illness or injuries.
Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) in the State of New York, is considered a “ high spending” medicare area of the country. Most individuals without health care proxies on Long Island will find themselves dying in a hospital. Individuals with Living Wills can choose to spend their final days in a hospice facility.
Hospice Facilities are designed to make patients facing end of life diseases comfortable by treating their pain and allowing their illnesses to run a natural course. Treatment in hospitals is organized around the theory of prolonging life. This can involve aggressive procedures even if the illness is considered by the treating physicians to be terminal. The treatment in hospitals for terminal illnesses can greatly reduce the quality of the individuals life. Sometimes the difference between hospice care and hospital care relates to the quality of the individual’s life while dealing with a terminal illness.
Lauren Hersh Nicholas is a health professor with the University of Michigan. She has conducted a study of involving living wills. She states there’s a benefit to the family of the patient. “Family members have a somewhat easier decision making process, because they have greater guidance.” The hospice treatment can eliminate pain and reduce medical procedures that are unlikely to work.
The Elder Law and Wills, Trusts and Estate lawyers at the Law Office of Elliot Schlissel have been helping their clients deal with end of life issues for more than 3 decades. The law firm drafts Wills, Trusts and Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. They represent individuals involved in will contests. They explain to executors of wills their duties. In addition, they draft revocable living trust and irrevocable living trusts. The firm is also involved in assisting clients with nursing home issues as well as medicaid planning technigues. Call for a consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 and 718- 350-2802.
July 14th, 2010
Irrevocable trusts cannot be changed. They are permanent trusts.
Asset Protection: When you place your assets in irrevocable trust, you remove ownership and control of those assets from the creator of the trust. These types of trusts are used for Medicaid planning purposes. It should be noted that there is a five year look-back period for medicaid eligibility. The assets placed in these trusts cannot be reached by creditors of the individual who made the trust. One type of irrevocable trust is called a self-settled irrevocable trust.
Life Insurance: Another type of irrevocable trust is called an irrevocable life insurance trust. If you purchase life insurance and transfer the policy into an irrevocable life insurance trust, the proceeds of the life insurance pass outside of your estate. They therefore are not taxed as part of your estate.
Tax Purposes: You can also create an “AB trust” for the benefit of your surviving spouse. This type of trust allows you to use the spouse’s exemption from estate taxes by funding the “B” trust with assets valued at or below the federal estate tax exemption rate, in the event the value of the deceased spouses estate assets is greater than the estate tax exemption at the existence of time of death. The “A” trust would be funded for the benefit of the surviving spouse. Estate taxes in this situation are deferred until after the surviving spouse dies.
June 29th, 2010
A trustee is the person who administers a trust. A trust can have one trustee, two trustees, or multiple trustees.
In theory the trustee is the owner of the trust assets. Trustees supervise the disposition of the trusts assets. They handle investments and, in some types of trusts, they make periodic payments to beneficiaries. Trustees must produce accountings on an annual basis to give the beneficiaries an opportunity to see how the trust is being administrated. The trustee is responsible for filing income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and, if there is an estate income tax, with estate taxing authorities on behalf of the trust. Sometimes trustees are given discretionary authority to make dispositions of trust assets to the trust beneficiaries.
In New York the trustee is a fiduciary held to the highest standard of ethical conduct.
Trustees are paid a commission in the State of New York based on the value of the trust assets they administer.
Beneficiaries of a trust receive periodic payments from the trust. The term and nature of the periodic payments are dealt with at the time of the creation of the trust. The individual who creates the trust is called the trustor or settlor. Individuals who receive the balance, if any, of the assets of the trust at the end of the operational period for the trust are called remaindermen.
Should you have questions regarding trust issues contact the trust attorneys by email or at the law office of Elliot Schlissel at 1-800-344-6431.
June 24th, 2010
Wills, revocable trusts, and irrevocable trusts are all estate planning devices. Revocable trusts are a type of trust that can be changed, modified, or revoked at anytime. This type of trust allows you to change your mind with regard to all aspects of the terms of the trust. These trusts are very flexible.
Uses of a revocable trust:
1. Revocable living trusts avoid probate. The assets in the trust at the time of the death of the individual who made the trust pass directly to the beneficiary. The trust does not have to be probated.
2. It is private document. Wills need to be probated. This opens up the terms of the will to review by a court. Once the will is filed with the courts it becomes a public document and other individuals can obtain copies of the will. An example is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s will in Manhattan. So many people wanted to see it that it was displayed to the public mounted it under plexiglass. The details of your assets and the individuals who receive your assets remain a private matter.
3. It establishes a plan that deals with mental disabilities such as Alzheimer’s disease and other mental illnesses that effect seniors. When you place assets in a revocable trust and the person who created the trust becomes disabled, the trustee or alternate trustee supervises the trust and distribution of the assets therein. If you do not have this type of trust or a power of attorney, it becomes necessary for your loved ones or next of kin to bring a guardianship proceeding under article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law to appoint a guardian for you.
March 5th, 2010
Do you have assets? Do you own a house? Have you been married more than once? Do you have children from more than one relationship? Are you concerned about what happens after your death to your spouse and/or your children? Are you single? All of the above individuals need a Will.
Estate contests often develop between children from the first marriage and the second wife. Issues arise when a man or a woman has children from more than one relationship. Sometimes loved ones have financial difficulty and the possibility of receiving assets in an estate brings out the worst in them.
There is a simple way to avoid unnecessary expensive litigation that can last from months or years. Write a Will! A Will states who your loved ones are, what your assets are and who will receive your assets at the time of your death. No one looks forward to dying. The thought of writing a Will is often an issue that individuals seek to put off. However, a Will should be written when you are competent and healthy not right before your death.
Attorneys that handle Wills & Estates prepare Wills. They are generally speaking inexpensive documents to have prepared. They simplify your end of life issues and allow your assets to pass in an orderly manner. Wills cut down on financial disagreements developing among your heirs and loved ones.
If you die without a Will your assets pass to your loved ones through administration proceedings. These proceedings can be time consuming and tedious. More than one person can request to be the Administrator of your estate. This can lead to arguments, bad feelings and increased attorney’s fees.
If you have assets or loved ones, you need a Will! Have it written by an attorney before you are too sick and old to deal with it.
Should you have questions regarding drafting a Will, feel free to call the Law Office of Elliot S. Schlissel to discuss these issues at 1-800-344-6431 or email us at email@example.com.
December 9th, 2009
Pursuant to EPTL § 3-2.1, a Will can only be probated if it conforms to the following requirements, among others:
- Will must be signed at the end and initialed on every page in front of the witnesses.
- The Will must be signed in the presence of at least 2 witnesses (Some states require 3)
- The witnesses must also sign an attestation clause.
- The “Testator” must “Publish” the Will by saying something like “This is my Will.”
A Probate judge in the Surrogate’s Court may invalidate a will based on several types of objections. If there is proof of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, duress, or undue influence, the Will will be invalid.
“Lack of testamentary capacity” means that the Will signer does not understand that what he’s signing is a Will, that he does not understand the nature and value of his property, does not understand who the natural objects of his bounty are (meaning that normally one’s spouse and children are the natural recipients of his or her property after death), or that he does not understand the nature of the disposition he is making (i.e., to whom he is giving his property in his Will).
A decision came out on Monday which is a great example of someone who successfully used the “lack of testamentary capacity” objection to the probate of a Will. In that case, several siblings of a deceased man successfully blocked the probate of their brother’s Will because he lacked “testamentary capacity.”
As he lay dying in the hospital of liver disease, the man’s x-wife and her lawyer got the him to sign a Will that gave her all of his assets. He died of the disease just three days later. In Matter of Stachiew, 96211/2007/D, a Dutchess County Surrogate’s Court judge denied probate in this case, holding that the proponent of the Will, the x-wife, had failed to prove that the decedent was sufficiently aware of the nature and extent of his property, what he was signing, and how he was changing his testamentary distribution plan through the Will. The judge found that the attorney had induced the decedent to sign the Will without regard for his ability to understand what was going on, and was not convinced by the attorney’s “self-serving” testimony to the contrary.
Cases like this illustrate how important it is that individuals hire a competent and ethical attorney who will take all reasonable measures to ensure that every requirement of New York’s Estates, Powers, and Trusts law is complied with.
Our office can assist you if you need help with:
- the drafting and execution of Wills or Trusts,
- Probating a Will or Administering an estate (where the decedent died without a will), whether or not a challenge is expected, or
- challenging the probate of a Will or Administration where there was some irregularity.
Please call our office at 800-344-6431 or e-mail us for assistance.
Picture courtesy of worlddub.blogspot.com