12/03/2016










Succession Ideas and Solutions for Family Farms

Local Attorneys Helping Long Island Family Farmers with Estate Planning

Green FieldsNew York is no stranger to family farms. In fact, there are plenty. Whether you own a large commercial farm or a small family range, it is important that you protect it. Farms are not just a way of living anymore; they are a way of financial support. If you don’t take steps to protect the succession of your family’s farm, your legacy could end abruptly upon your death.

When you plan out the future of your family farm, you will have unique issues that a typical estate plan won’t address. For example, you may have children working on the farm, while others are not. But, you still need to determine how the farm will operate in the future and how your estate will be equally divided among your heirs.

Building an Estate Plan is Critical

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average assets for a large family farm was estimated at $4.5 million in 2014. That value alone is reason enough to create a succession plan – even if you feel like you don’t have the time.

Ideas and Solutions for Protecting the Family Farm

There is a way to create a succession plan while still distributing your estate’s assets accordingly. Some common ideas include:

  • Have the “farming heir” purchase the farm when parents reach retirement age. When parents have reached retirement age, the child who is inheriting the farm can purchase it outright from his or her parents. The proceeds can then be added into the parents’ estate plan so that it can be equally divided among all children (those who work for the farm and do not). The only issue is that the farming heir would need to be able to afford the farm or have access to funding for that purchase.
  • Have the farming heir buy the farm after death. Another option is to allow the farming heir to take advantage of capital gains tax by buying the farm after death. The heir may have to pay more, however, if the farm’s value increases by the time his or her parents pass away. Parents could agree to a pre-set purchase price and list that in the estate plan to avoid inflation costs. Also, the parents can structure the estate so as not to be divided until after the farming heir has purchased the family farm.
  • Parents can split the farm among all children. If there is no farming heir or no child can afford to purchase it, the parents also have the option of parsing out the farm or giving each beneficiary interest in the farm. The farming heir could also rent the property from other heirs while running the family farm so that everyone enjoys the assets equally, but family still runs the farm.

Speak With an Estate Planning Attorney To Explore Your Family Farm Succession Options

To protect your family farm, create a succession plan and estate plan that treats everyone fairly by speaking with an attorney in New York. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help you create a succession plan and protect your family’s assets. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request your consultation appointment online.

Estate Planning Tips for the Never-Been-Married

Long Island Attorneys Assisting Singles with Estate Planning

Single ManJust because you are not married does not mean that you do not have assets. There are plenty of single individuals today with substantial estates – and those assets must be protected. Whether you have no immediate beneficiaries out of choice or you just haven’t gotten to the idea of marriage yet, starting early is critical.

Without a valid estate plan in place, the state of New York will have to tackle the task of distributing your assets, which may mean that your estate goes to family members to whom you wouldn’t ordinary gift your estate in the first place.

What Happens When You Die Intestate?

If you die without an estate plan, you are passing intestate. This means that your estate will go through probate court and the courts will decide who receives assets based on the statute’s hierarchy, which is as follows:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Children of a deceased spouse
  • Relatives of a deceased spouse
  • The state

Instead of allowing the state to dictate who receives your estate, you can gift it to a partner, friend, charity, or even a business partner.

Tips for the Never-Been-Married

Because you do not have a spouse, you have designations to fill that would ordinarily be done by a spouse. Also, you need to consider what you want to do with your estate so that a judge does not dictate who receives your personal items.

  • Assign a health care agent. If you don’t have a spouse, you need to select someone to be your health care representative in a medical power of attorney or health care directive. That way, if you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions, you have someone with the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf.
  • Name a live-in partner. Sometimes, individuals are not married, but that does not mean that they do not have a partner. Whether you have a partner from a different sex or a same-sex partner, you must create a will that designates him or her as your beneficiary; otherwise, the state will not recognize it.
  • Pick an executor. You will want to pick an executor to make decisions and follow the directions of your will. The executor can be a close friend or family member.
  • Guardians for children or pets. If you are single but have children, you need to designate a guardian for them. Also, if you have any pets, you can appoint a guardian to take them upon your death.

Start by Selecting Your Estate Planning Attorney in Long Island, NY

The laws regarding estate plans are highly involved. Therefore, you should first meet with an attorney to discuss what your estate may need and to start drafting a legal will. If you want to create a trust, assign a health care proxy, or even name an executor, it is best to consult with an attorney.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with all of your estate planning needs. From drafting a will to setting up a trust, let us protect your assets and loved ones. Schedule a consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request your appointment online.

How to Create a Fair Will for Your Children

Estate Planning Attorneys Assisting Long Island Families Create Wills

estate planning attorneyWhen you have more than one child, you may want your will to be fair – even if certain children are treated differently in the terms. An equal split is not always easy for children to accept, especially if you have a split family. But, there are instances when a will can be uneven and still fair to all children named as beneficiaries.

Being Thoughtful Counts

It is not always the amount that “counts,” but rather the thought behind what you are giving. If you are giving family heirlooms or items that are worth a lot of money, but also have sentimental value, it might mean more to certain children than just money. Consider which children will appreciate family heirlooms and which may value money over sentiment. Then, split the assets accordingly.

Teach Children to Prepare for Less

Sometimes, it is best to not talk to your children about the estate or how much they may inherit. Instead, focus on teaching them independence and financial responsibility. If you feel that your children will be unable to manage their inheritance, then you may want to set up an irrevocable trust. That way, heirs will be forced to terms so that they manage their inheritance appropriately.

Have a Conversation

If the estate plan seems unfair, you may want to sit down with all of your children and explain your decision. For example, if you have children from a previous marriage, your children from the current marriage may wonder why you and your new spouse have equally divided all assets.

It is best to sit down and discuss how assets will be distributed, the distribution percentages, and your decisions behind those amounts. When everyone already knows what to expect, it may resolve any conflict later.

Remember Account Designations

You may have a child named as the beneficiary of your retirement account or insurance policy, but only name one child out of many. While your estate plan may say that the estate will be divided equally, these assets would be distributed based on the designation. Therefore, you will want to adjust your designation or account for that payout by splitting other assets differently.

For example, let’s say that you have one child listed as the beneficiary of your company’s insurance policy. Under this line of reasoning, in the estate plan, you could have the other two children receive a larger portion of liquid assets. This would allow the inheritance amounts to nearly equal the same amount in the end.

Speak with a Long Island, NY Estate Planning Attorney

Making a fair will is never easy, but you can find the right designations and plan accordingly by talking to an estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you verify all appointments, list your beneficiaries, and create terms in a trust that protect your heirs. Speak with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. to get started on your estate plan. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at 516-605-0625 or request your appointment online.

Five Estate Planning Tricks for Keeping Your Money in the Family

Long Island Attorney Protecting Assets for Families through Estate Planning

elderly woman and estate planning chartA single individual can have over $5 million in assets before his or her heirs have to concern themselves with estate tax. This fact is what confuses individuals the most. They assume that, with such a high value, only the wealthy ever need to concern themselves with an estate plan. However, skipping over an estate plan – regardless of how big or small your estate may be – could be a big financial mistake.

The purpose of estate planning is to keep your money in your family. Even if you are single, you likely have family members to whom you would give your assets, such as surviving parents, siblings, or even a favorite cousin.

The state has no problem dictating who will receive your assets or, worse, taking a piece for themselves. After all, state’s tax rates are not the same as the federal tax exemption rate.

Five Ways You Can Keep Your Assets in Your Family

To protect your assets and ensure that they stay in the family, here are five tricks:

  1. Create a Will – If you do not have one yet, the best way to protect your assets and ensure that they go to family is by having an attorney draft an official will for you. Your will is still subject to probate court, and it should be structured in accordance with estate planning laws in Long Island; otherwise, the courts may not recognize it.
  2. Verify Your Designated Beneficiaries – Some assets may already have beneficiaries listed, such as with your checking account, retirement funds, etc. Check to see who you have named for each, and recheck them each year. Sometimes, a life change may occur that makes you want to change your beneficiary.
  3. Create a Trust – If your estate is large or you want to control how heirs manage the inheritance, you can have an attorney create a trust. A trust can be structured in several ways, including the irrevocable trust. In this instance, the trust would own the assets that you place in it, instead of your owning them. A trust will still pay taxes, but there are ways to minimize the burden.
  4. Take a Look at Retirement Accounts – Your retirement accounts are subject to tax if you do not have a Roth account. Avoid leaving a hefty tax burden on your beneficiaries by converting any traditional retirement accounts you have into a Roth account.
  5. Gift Away Money Now – If you are worried about taxes or you want to keep money with the family, you can gift people up to $14,000 per year without any federal tax penalties. These gifts can bring down your estate value, especially if it is worth more than the IRS threshold.

Speak with an Estate Attorney First

Before making any changes to your estate plan or retirement accounts, speak with an estate planning attorney in Long Island, New York. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your accounts, protect heirs from hefty tax burdens, and more. Schedule a free consultation now by calling 516-605-0625, or request more information online.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Assessing the Risks and Benefits

Long Island, NY Attorney Assisting the Elderly with Long-Term Care Insurance

insurance claim formInsurance companies are pushing Long-Term Care Insurance to their clients, but as a consumer, you have to ask yourself if it is going to be the ideal investment for you. In recent years, more consumers are becoming aware of just how expensive it is to endure long-term care – and more importantly, they are realizing the financial burden that this places on their loved ones.

From nursing homes to residential facilities to assisted living and in-home care, these types of long-term care solutions add up quickly. An individual’s life savings could easily be eaten up in just a few years of long-term care – and for those who have not adequately saved, that could spell disaster.

Long-term insurance is there to help with these situations, but it shouldn’t be something that you buy just because your insurance agent has told you to do so. Instead, you need to sit down and create a long-term plan that includes insurance products – and most importantly, you need to speak with an attorney to make sure that you are adequately covered on all angles.

When Do People Purchase Long-Term Care Insurance?

Most consumers will not purchase long-term care insurance until they are in their 60s. Though, there are some who will purchase it sooner if they know that they will be in need of long-term care. Most people, however, are unable to predict their financial health in the future; therefore, most do not know that they need long-term care insurance until the reasons are right in front of them.

Consider the Odds

Statistics have shown some daunting numbers. Despite what insurance companies will tell you, you may not have a high risk of needing a nursing home or assisted facility. In fact, a large majority of those who stay in long-term care facilities have a short-term stay. Out of those who are sent there, it is estimated that they only spend about six months.

If you have a chronic condition, the likelihood that you will need long-term care does increase. But, you should not supplement solely with an insurance policy. Instead, you should speak with your elder law attorney in Long Island, New York to assess all of your options. Your attorney may help you with Medicare planning and other long-term care solutions as part of your estate plan first.

Consider the Pros and Cons

  1. You will get savings protection. One of the biggest pros to long-term care insurance is that you can preserve your long-term savings. If you suffer from a disease like Alzheimer’s, you will need around-the-clock care as your disease progresses. This can be extremely costly and quickly erode your savings accounts. With long-term care insurance, you preserve that savings for other costs.
  1. Broader coverage than health insurance and Medicare. Medicare and health insurance only cover so much of the cost of in-home care and long-term care facilities. The rest would be out of your own pocket. But, with long-term care insurance, you can offset that cost.
  1. Covering certain conditions. Some insurers will allow you to cover certain preexisting conditions. You will need to select a policy based on your chronic condition or disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.
  1. Rates are high. You may find that long-term care insurance premiums are just too high. If you end up not using the coverage to its fullest, it will cost you more than it will save you.

Seek a Well-Rounded Estate Plan Instead of One Insurance Policy

Instead of relying solely on insurance to help you later in life, talk to an estate planning attorney and explore all of your options. You may be surprised at just how much a well-rounded estate plan could save you. To see what is available to you, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

What You Can and Cannot Do with a POA

Long Island, NY Attorneys for Financial and Healthcare POAs

elderly couple doing paperworkA Power of Attorney (POA) is a powerful document, but it doesn’t carry unlimited power.

Just like other legal documents, creating and enforcing a POA can be confusing. As an essential tool for aging adults and their families, it is important to understand how the POA works and what you can/cannot do with it.

Types of POAs

There is not just one type of POA. Instead, you have the option of using two: Healthcare and financial.

A healthcare POA is one wherein you appoint an agent (family or friend) to make healthcare decisions about a person (known as the principal) when he or she is unable to do so.

The financial POA appoints a person (sometimes a financial advisor or attorney) to make all financial decisions on behalf of the principal.

What Can a POA Do?

An appointed agent does not have unlimited powers. In the name of the principal, a healthcare agent can only:

  • Decide what medical care the principal receives.
  • Decide where the principal will live.
  • Determine what diet the principal follows.
  • Decide what family members or professionals handle hygiene care of the principal.

As a financial agent, the individual can make decisions on behalf of the principal for:

  • Deciding how to pay for healthcare and housing.
  • File taxes and pay any taxes necessary.
  • Pay all bills and manage bank account balances.
  • Make any investment decisions (including buying/selling assets).

A Living Will: A Good Addition to Any POA

While you may be considering a POA, do not forget about drafting a proper will. A living will offers extra coverage and, in conjunction with your estate plan, can protect you and your loved ones. Outside of providing an individual’s physician with information regarding your care, your living will can also take any pressure of healthcare agents, especially in terms of life or death decisions. A living will is always more powerful than a POA, which will help when you appoint a family member as the healthcare agent – and possibly make him or her more comfortable in that role.

Set up a Proper Estate Plan Today

If you are worried about the capabilities and limitations of a POA, speak to an estate planning attorney. An attorney can help decide which critical documents are best for your estate plan, and ensure that you and your loved ones are properly protected. To get started, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Critical Points on How Adult Guardianships (Conservatorships) Work

Long Island, NY Adult Guardianship Lawyers

Elderly Parent and Adult Child's handsConservatorship and guardianship are essentially the same, and you may notice that they are used synonymously in the courts. Most estate attorneys will refer to guardianship (of adults) as conservatorship.

Conservatorship occurs when adults cannot make important decisions for themselves; therefore, they appoint a person (known as the conservator) to make decisions for them. These decisions are legally backed by the court. A conservator can be appointed by the individual, a family member, or even the court. This individual can make decisions about finances, medical decisions, and personal care.

When appointed, a conservator can make decisions about all aspects of a person’s personal life (depending on the documentation). For example, a conservator could determine where the individual lives.

Assessing the Pros and Cons of Conservatorship

There are pros and cons to creating a conservatorship, and you will want to consider each before deciding if it is right for you or your loved one.

Some advantages include:

  • It allows family members to make decisions on behalf of another.
  • It gives a clear, legal authority to deal with third parties on behalf of the individual.
  • It provides a process for a judge to approve all major decisions (when needed).

Some disadvantages include:

  • They can be costly at first.
  • You will need to meet with an attorney and continue to, in order to keep it updated.
  • Family members may disagree about which family member should be the conservator.

When is a Conservatorship Ideal?

There must be two factors present for a conservatorship to be appropriate. First, the individual must be physically or mentally incapable of making decisions themselves. Second, the individual must not have an estate plan in place (such as a living will) that designates a power of attorney to cover all medical and financial decisions.

Some situations in which a conservator may be necessary include:

  1. The individual does not have a power of attorney for finances.
  2. The individual does not have a medical directive (or living will); therefore, he or she needs someone to make healthcare decisions.
  3. The individual has a medical directive, but needs someone to make medical decisions that are not covered in the medical directive.
  4. The individual has a power of attorney for health and finances, but he or she needs someone to make decisions regarding personal life (e.g., where they would live, who can spend time with them, etc.).

A Judge May Have to Decide

Often, when a person becomes incapacitated, that is when the family members realize that they need to appoint a conservator. In these instances, a judge would have to appoint an individual – especially if the principal cannot appoint someone themselves. Some situations where this may occur can include if the person is unconscious or semi-conscious, suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, etc.

In this instance, the judge would weigh the options and determine if the individual can communicate, and if he or she understands the court’s procedures enough to appoint someone on his or her own. The judge will then have a preliminary investigation done to see if a conservator is required. Lastly, the judge would appoint a conservator, but may limit the authority to specific decisions (based on if there is a living will or power of attorney present).

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Long Island, NY First

If you have a loved one who needs decisions to be made on his or her behalf, explore your options by contacting an elder law attorney. Conservatorships are complex, and your case must meet specific criteria in order to appoint someone or petition the courts to petition someone. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

What Do I Do if the Bank Refuses a POA?

Long Island, NY POA and Estate Planning Attorney

power of attorneyTo help look out for an aging loved one, you did your due diligence and got a Power of Attorney (POA) form. You filled it out according to the instructions, had your loved one sign it, and you were ready to take on your duties (when the time came). Now that your loved one is incapacitated and it is time for you to exercise your POA, you have realized that the financial institutions at which your loved one keeps his or her money are refusing your access. You have the financial POA in your hands and it has even been signed, but the bank still refuses to honor it. What do you do next?

Unfortunately, this is an all too common issue in the United States. When people opt for DIY elder planning, they often find that the work they have done is unusable, which leaves their loved ones in a dire situation.

Three Reasons Why Your Bank Can Reject the Power of Attorney

It is important to decode the reasons behind the refusal, but also may be in your best interest to contact an attorney before this ever happens. Three reasons why a financial situation will reject a power of attorney include:

  1. It is not a durable power of attorney. A power of attorney must be “durable.” If it is not durable, then it is only valid while the “principal” (the individual who signed the document) is competent. Once he or she is not of sound mind, the effectiveness of the POA is no longer valid. Durable POAs continue even after incapacitation.
  2. The POA hasn’t been activated. A power of attorney could be “springing.” This means that the POA is only effective when the principal is incapacitated. Incapacitation must be proven in accordance with the POA – which typically requires that a physician examines the principal and has determined that he or she is medically unable to manage the affairs because of mental incapacity, or for another reason. In this instance, the bank will need the documentation from the physician before it can honor the POA.
  3. The power of attorney is too old. Even after you have done everything correctly, the financial institution may not recognize you as the agent if the document is deemed “too old.” In order for a POA to be considered too old, the principal must have revoked the power of attorney or created a newly signed document that replaces the old one. This is why it is always good to update a POA by signing a new one and not having any POA longer than five years old without revisiting it.

Handing POA Issues – Contact an Attorney

If you have a DIY or attorney-prepared POA that is not being honored, contact an estate planning attorney in Long Island, NY. An attorney can help identify the reasons why the POA is being rejected, and possibly rectify those reasons. Also, if the bank is acting unreasonably, an attorney can help resolve the issues and help the individual gain access to the principal’s accounts.

For your estate issues, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. at 516-605-0625, or fill out our online contact form.

What Happens When There Are Two Wills – Which Takes Precedence?

Man Signing PaperworkThroughout a person’s life, one goes through many stages. A person may draft a will in his or her early 20’s, but as one acquires more assets, gets married, and even has children, his or her estate planning needs will change. This may result in drafting a new will. If you have executed a new will, you need to carefully assess whether any previous wills or documents out there will differ from the terms of your new will – and, you should take steps to ensure that both wills do not wind up in probate court and contradict one another.

When Two Wills Have Been Executed

Traditionally, during estate planning, if a person leaves two wills and both are offered into probate, the court will look at the circumstances to determine which will takes precedence, and which will be considered revoked. The best way to ensure that the latest will is used instead of an older will is to express that the most recent will is valid, and that all previous wills are considered invalid. By explicitly revoking one’s own past wills, the courts will then consider only the most recent will, instead of any past versions.

Issues can arise, however, when there is no clear statement as to which will is valid and whether or not previous versions will be revoked.

As a testator, you may have attempted to destroy a previous will or have left it behind, thinking that it wouldn’t be entered into probate upon your death. This results in an ineffective revocation. When the two wills are completely different from one another, the court may be forced to probate both – and they will usually figure out that the more recent will has revoked the first completely. If, however, differences are minor between the two wills, the courts will read the two to determine which is more effective and relevant.

How Courts Determine Which Will Takes Precedence

Courts will generally review the testator’s intent in each will to determine which should be probated and which should be revoked. To determine the meaning contained in the instrument, the courts will look at who drafted the will, contact that individual, review the circumstances under which the new will was drafted, and also review the words used to write the estate plan in the first place. The court will also review the testamentary capacity of the deceased at the time when each will was drafted – to make sure that a new will was not created when the testator was clearly incapacitated or unable to draft a will and comprehend his or her actions.

The testator must be aware of the nature of the acts that he or she is performing when creating a new will. If he or she has been deemed incapacitated, the new will may be listed as invalid and the previous will takes precedence in probate.

Protect Yourself from Past Wills – Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Immediately

If you have previous estate plans that have been drafted, having a good estate planning attorney during the creation of your new version is imperative. Your attorney can have explicit language in the new will revoking anything in past wills – and ensure that it is clear to the courts that the latest will is valid, and you are of sound mind to enter into such a decision.

To explore your options or to get started, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Schedule a consultation by calling 516-605-0625, or request your consultation online.

Steps to Take to Ensure That Your Will is Valid

signing a willA will is a formal legal document that allows you to dictate how you want your estate to be managed and distributed upon your death. The state of New York has clear laws as to how your will is validated and executed in the manner in which you intended it to be. Failure to follow Long Island laws could actually mean that your will is deemed invalid – and your beneficiaries are left to clean up the mess. There are precautions that you can take to ensure that you have a valid will – and they are simple, easy-to-do steps, too.

Verify Legal Requirements

This is the most critical stage of estate planning. It is why you need to hire an estate planning attorney to draft your will – because he or she can ensure that it is in accordance with all estate and probate laws. You need to also review the age requirements and make sure that you have drafted a will when you are legally allowed to do so.

Hire an Attorney

While there are DIY sites that promise you great results, these lack the complexity needed to handle things like children, guardianship, trusts, retirement accounts, multiple properties, investments, and more. An attorney in New York can help you add all necessary provisions and execute your will based on state laws. He or she can also help alleviate the stress associated with creating an estate plan in the first place.

Typewrite Your Will

Do not rely on a handwritten will. While it can sometimes to be considered valid, you are better off always having a typed will. This can prevent confusion or claims of forgery, as well. Also, oral wills should never be used – especially for complex estate matters.

Videotape

Consider videotaping your wishes to help further validate the claims and requirements in your will. Videotaping yourself reading and signing the will may show that you are of sound mental capacity – so that there can be no contest of your mental state. While you don’t need to be declared mentally incompetent by a court, the courts may allow testimony from disgruntled beneficiaries. If their claims are convincing enough, your will may be contested. Videotaping the process can help eliminate these issues.

Have Substantiated Provisions

You need to indicate your intent in making the document, and that your final word shows that you understand the consequences of your actions taken by the will. In other words, you should show that you are aware of what will happen when the will is executed. The provisions will also help further demonstrate mental capacity and the clear establishment of your intent – so that there are no ambiguous claims made later.

Get Witnesses

In order to validate your will, you will need to sign it yourself, have a notary, and even have witnesses. There are various numbers of witnesses that you can have, but it is in your best interest to have more than less – to further establish the validity of your will.

Ready to Get Started? Contact a Will Attorney in Long Island

If you need to get started on your estate planning process, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. He can assist you with all aspects of estate planning, including healthcare directives, wills, special needs, businesses, and more. Schedule a free consultation by calling 516-605-0625, or request your appointment online.

Palliative Care: Will the New Law Affect Your Plans?

Elderly Woman and Younger Woman Clasping HandsIn February 2011, the Palliative Care Information Act was amended by the state of New York. This Act requires that doctors and nurse practitioners inform terminally ill patients about their end-of-life options – and offer counseling regarding their palliative care options. To receive palliative care under the New York Statute, the patient must reasonably be expected to be in the last six months of his or her expected lifespan, which is also a standard required for hospice care.

Just some of the information that must be provided to the patient and his or her loved ones include:

  • His or her diagnosis and the course the disease will take;
  • The options that he or she has available for treatment;
  • Risks and benefits of these treatments;
  • Legal rights to pain and symptom management during his or her final months.

If the patient cannot make decisions on his or her own or are incapacitated, then his or her healthcare proxy (which is already appointed), will make decisions based on the information provided.

Using Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Palliative care is the medical care for patients who have terminally ill prognosis. This provides relief from the symptoms, pain, emotional distress, and more – and it is often referred to as “comfort care.” Most people associate palliative care with hospice care, but they are different. Hospice care is eligible under healthcare insurance when the patient has six months left to live, while palliative care can be initiated earlier during any stage of the illness – and not necessarily as part of an end-of-life care plan. Hospice and palliative care do both focus on making the patient as comfortable as possible, and helping the families care for their ailing relative. It also helps them cope with the process, and aid the quality of life for the patient. Most individuals do not realize, however, that palliative care is focused on symptom management – not making things comfortable for the end-of-life stages.

The Future of End-of-Life and Terminal Care

While palliative care was introduced in 2007, it is now offered by more than 70 percent of hospitals in the country, and those numbers are expected to grow exponentially as healthcare insurance changes take hold in the country. The results of palliative care programs have been encouraging and the reports have shown a decrease in the likelihood of ending up in intensive care units, or even suffering from depression. Most patients are satisfied with the palliative care that is provided, and they have even been shown to live longer than being provided with hospice care. Another added benefit to palliative care is the cost savings – because patients receive their care in their home and no longer encounter the rising costs of a hospital stay.

Add Palliative Care to Your Elder Care Plan

As you age, you will need to start making important decisions about your health and even end-of-life planning. One of the best decisions that you can make is palliative care, especially if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition. Palliative care can be used in place of or as a supplement to hospice care to help further your life and the quality of life. To explore your options for drafting your wishes, contact an estate planning attorney. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your estate plan, as well as elder care plan. Schedule a consultation now by calling 516-605-0625, or request your appointment online.

Choose Your Fiduciary Wisely: Tips for Selecting the Right Person for the Job

Family DiscussionOne of the most important decisions you will face while creating your estate plan is choosing the fiduciaries. There is not just one person whom you will select. Instead, you will select a person for each role that needs to be filled. This includes your executor, the attorney-in-fact, the power of attorney, the trustee, etc.

A fiduciary, by definition, is someone who is granted certain rights and powers that are exercised to benefit a person or estate. They must act in good faith and candor while exercising their rights, and can never be self-benefiting. Basically, they are there to serve out your wishes.

While you may be inclined to choose a family member, you may want to consider your options before you finalize who will be in control of your estate’s biggest assets and controls. Family is not always the best option, especially when it comes to making financial decisions that could impact themselves.

Tips for Choosing Fiduciaries

When you are selecting people for your roles, here are a few things that you will want to keep in mind:

  1. Choose different people to fill the various roles. While you could select just one person, it may be in your best interest to select different people for each of the roles you need to fill. A comprehensive estate plan has complicated roles – and not just the executor – to fill. For example, you may want a close relative to handle your healthcare decisions, but you may select an accountant or even an attorney to handle your financial decisions if you become incapacitated. You may select an attorney to work as your executor so that family members are not fighting with another family member who is in control of the estate. Naming different individuals to serve out these various roles could offer a good system of checks and balances – so that one person isn’t in control of everything.
  2. Consider appointing co-fiduciaries instead of single ones. While you are selecting people for the various roles you have open, consider naming co-fiduciaries rather than single individuals. This adds a second layer of protection, and ensures that decisions are made carefully on behalf of your estate. Co-fiduciaries especially make sense if you have multiple beneficiaries, if you have a complex estate, or if one of the fiduciaries lives far away.
  3. Consider your trusts’ value and term before picking a trustee. When selecting a trustee, you need to consider the term of the trust as well as the asset value within that trust. If your trust will continue through the lives of grandchildren, then you will want to name an individual who is old enough to handle decisions when the trust is ready for distribution. Also, you will want to name a secondary trustee in the event that your primary cannot make decisions or is no longer around.
  4. Consider the benefits of a professional trustee. While you may think that a family member will serve his or her role as trustee just fine, you may be better off picking a professional. A professional who specializes in estate settlement and trust administration already understands the role, the process, and even the laws – so that the process is much smoother. Also, a professional doesn’t have any personal stake in the trust; therefore, the decisions are not driven by personal gain.
  5. Consider the traits of your fiduciary. When you are selecting family and friends to fill these roles, you need to look for specific traits. Not everyone is suitable to handle an estate, so you need someone who is organized, diplomatic, responsible, financially stable, and even-tempered.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney to Assign the Right Fiduciaries to Your Estate

A good attorney can help you pick the right people to fill the various roles within your estate plan. Contact The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today to setup your estate plan and start naming individuals as your fiduciaries. Call 516-605-0625 to schedule a free consultation, or ask a question online.

Guardianship for Incapacitated People in New York – What is the Process?

estate planningUnder New York’s Mental Hygiene Law, Article 81, the courts are authorized to appoint a guardian to manage a person’s financial affairs if he or she cannot manage those affairs for him or herself, due to being mentally incapacitated. It is important to note that guardians under Article 81 do not all have the same rights or powers. Instead, the guardianship limits are specifically created so that the guardian’s powers are granted based on what is specifically necessary to meet the needs of the incapacitated individual – and nothing more.

For example, a person may be unable to manage his or her finances by balancing the checkbook, paying bills, etc. But, he or she has the ability to make healthcare decisions on his or her own. In this case, under Article 81, the court would grant guardianship over the individual’s finances, but that same guardian could not make any healthcare decisions.

In those instances where guardianship needs to encompass multiple areas, the powers granted by the court would then include a full panoply of financial management powers, as well as healthcare decision-making powers. But, the court would first determine the mental capacity of the individual, as well as what course of action is best before appointing such guardianship to another person.

Can Guardians Be Given the Authority to Pay Bills on Behalf of the Incapacitated Person?

Yes. This is the most common reason why a guardian is appointed by the courts. The person no longer can pay his or her own bills or manage finances; therefore, the courts will appoint a guardian to handle such tasks for the individual. The court-appointed guardian will then pay bills, make investments, and exercise his or her financial rights – but always in the best interest of the person for whom he or she is a guardian – not out of self-interest. The guardian will make decisions in a manner that the incapacitated would have made, if that individual could make sound decisions on his or her own.

The Power to Prevent Self-Neglect

Sometimes, the incapacitated are not able to provide themselves with proper medical care; therefore, they are at risk for self-neglect. In this case, the courts would appoint a guardian to help him or her with basic activities – including self-hygiene. Sometimes, the guardian will be given authority to remedy situations inside the home, such as modifying for disabilities or even removing things that have accumulated because the individual could not care for him or herself.

Financial Abuse and Guardians

Occasionally, there are guardians who think more of their own financial gain than that of the person for whom they are assigned to care. In this case, the courts can step in and have that guardian removed from the position. The court can also temporarily freeze financial accounts to prevent the current guardian from abusing his or her power any further.

Avoid Inept Appointments – Contact an Estate Planning Attorney

As part of a comprehensive estate plan, you can list guardians whom you would like to be appointed to care for your health and finances when you become incapacitated. Contact an estate planning attorney today to explore your options and start protecting your future in the event that you can no longer make decisions on your own. Schedule a consultation now with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. by calling 516-605-0625, or contact us online.

What Does Bequest Mean?

Judge's Gavel and Court PaperworkWhen you are drafting an estate plan, there will be plenty of terms thrown around that you may not fully understand. It is important that you do your own due diligence to research these terms and, if ever you are not sure, ask your estate planning attorney. These terms often dictate major decisions in your estate plan – and not understanding them could mean that your beneficiaries, or even your own health, suffers.

A common term used in estate planning is “bequest.” You will hear this term frequently throughout the estate planning process – and it is an important term to understand before you sign anything.

What Does Bequest Mean?

Bequest is a gift of personal property – which can include stocks, bonds, money, jewelry, or other property owned by an individual. That property is gifted at the time of death, as directed by a decedent’s will. Bequest can also refer to your legacy – if you have established a legacy plan with your estate planning attorney.

It is important to realize that bequest is not the same as a “devise,” which is a testamentary gift of real property. While the terms are used interchangeably, they are not the same. When this does occur, a bequest gift of real property can happen only if the testator’s intention was to dispose of real property and it is clearly done so within the will.

Different Types of Bequests

There are different forms of bequest, which include:

  1. Charitable Bequest – This is a gift that is specifically intended to serve an educational, religious, political, or social purpose to benefit someone. It is aimed at the community, an individual in need of charity, or a particular segment of the community. These types of bequests can actually reduce your estate taxes that may be owed when the estate is left to your loved ones.
  2. Demonstrative Bequest – This is a gift of money that is paid from a source, such as your bank account or savings account. It is then given to the designated beneficiary.
  3. General Bequest – General bequests are a gift of money or property that is paid or taken from the general assets of an estate, and not from a specific fund. These are dictated by the terms of the will.

Before You Choose, Speak With an Estate Planning Attorney

Because there are different ways to bequest property or money, you will want to speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you decide which way is the best to reduce estate tax burdens on your loved ones, but also protect your estate from probate court or creditors. You may also want to explore your options for charity – and ensure that your will is executed in the way you planned it to be. The best way to do so is to speak with an attorney and not only explore your options, but get to know the process for estate planning in general.

If you are ready to draft an estate plan or you would like your current plan revisited, contact The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. You can schedule a free consultation at 516-605-0625, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.

How Does Capacity Affect Elder Law Cases?

elderly man and younger manCapacity is a very difficult term in the elder law section of the statute. While it is clear what makes a person capable of making decisions, that definition does not always play out as smoothly in real life. For example, people can seem to be capable of making decisions, but later it is discovered that they suffered from diminished capacity. When this happens, estate plans can become contested, and decisions reversed – whether the individual intended for that to happen or not.

What is Diminished Capacity?

Diminished capacity is a hot topic for contested estate plans. And, defining it depends on the circumstances at hand. The definition can also vary depending on what state you live in and what the statute says. When drafting an estate plan, your attorney will have to ensure that the plan and your capacity meet all state statutes – otherwise, your will could be contested.

To make a valid will, the individual who is making the will (known as the testator), must have the ability to understand several things, including:

  1. The nature and extent of the property that is owned.
  2. The natural objects that are within ownership.
  3. The decisions that are being made in the will.
  4. The ability to help connect the dots to create a rational estate plan.

A person doesn’t need to be capable of making day-to-day business transactions and decisions after the will goes into effect, but he or she must have the capacity at the time when the will is drafted and signed.

The Various Levels of Diminished Capacity

There are three facets of diminished capacity, and all attorneys who practice estate law (and other fields of law) must understand the levels of diminished capacity. These levels include:

  • Testamentary Capacity – This is regarding the testator at the time when a will is created. The individual must be able to understand the nature of the will, what it entails, and how it will affect family and understand what property is really “theirs.” Basically, he or she must be of sound mind at the time when the estate plan was created.
  • Donative Capacity – This refers to a person’s mental capacity at the time when he or she donates or gives a gift to someone. This can also affect your estate plan if you plan to donate your estate to charity. You will need to show that you have an understanding of the extent of your gift, and be of sound mind to agree to donate your estate.
  • Contractual Capacity – This is what refers to a person’s capacity at the time when he or she enters into a contract. You must understand the nature and effect of the contract, and what will be transacted upon the agreement.
  • Capacity to Execute a Durable Power of Attorney – This is critical in estate planning. You must meet a standard of capacity when creating and executing a durable power of attorney. You must not be under pressure from anyone to assign them power of attorney, and you must understand the effect of giving that individual power will have on your estate.
  • Decisional Capacity in Health Care – This is the capacity that allows you to make decisions regarding your own health care. If you have assigned an agent, he or she will take over decision-making once you are deemed incapable of making decisions on your own. This often means if you are unable to understand the benefits and risks or alternatives that are proposed to you by a medical professional in order to make a sound healthcare decision.

Concerned About Capacity Issues? Talk with an Attorney Today

If you are concerned with capacity issues or you want to ensure that your estate plan is drafted while you are considered of “sound mind,” speak with an estate planning attorney immediately to get started. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your estate plan. Call today to schedule a free consultation at 516-605-0625, or ask a question online.

Does the Illness Matter With End of Life Care?

Nurse with an Elderly WomanEnd of life care is important – especially as you age or if you are diagnosed with a particular condition that will degenerate your capabilities over time. Even if you have been diagnosed for some time, it is never too late to start your end of life care plan and use Advanced Directives. These are legal documents that help ensure that you receive the care you want (or do not want) if you become incapacitated or cannot make decisions on your own.

One question that you may have, however, is if the illness you are suffering will impact your end of life care decisions. In some ways, the illness you suffer from could affect what decisions you make while doing end-of-life care planning, but in other ways, it will not. In order to fully understand how your illness will (or will not) affect your planning, you must first assess what you need.

Three Most Utilized Documents

When you start end of life care planning, you will begin with three essential documents:

  1. A Living Will – This goes over the care that you would like to receive if you cannot make medical decisions on your own. This can include life-prolonging procedures (if you want any life-prolonging procedures done), blood transfusion issues, religious faiths that will play a role in your care, and the name of the individual who will facilitate your medical wishes.
  2. Healthcare Surrogate – This form will designate an agent who will make decisions about your health issues if you cannot do so yourself. He or she can have limited authority, and you can decide what he or she is allowed to decide – and even split that authority between two individuals. You will need to name the surrogate while you are still competent. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with a condition that will lead to incompetency, now is the time to designate the surrogate.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney – This will outline the power that you give to another person when he or she acts on your behalf. You must authorize this person in writing, and do so before you are considered incompetent. The power of attorney is what gives someone the authority to handle your finances, as well as healthcare matters.

How an Illness Plays a Role

When you are diagnosed with an illness, it can play a role in your end of life care plan. If you have already established an end of life care plan, you may need to reassess and see if it reflects your new diagnosis. For example, if a person has cancer and he or she does not wish to be put on life-prolonging devices, then that individual may need to adjust the end of life care plan to reflect that – if it doesn’t state such already.

You may also want to change your healthcare agent or even your durable power of attorney – or assign one if you have not done so already after a diagnosis.

In most cases, you will need to consult with your current physician (the one treating your illness) to come up with a care plan or suggested care based on your illness. Your physician can advise you about life-prolonging procedures, your prognosis, etc.

Speak with an Elder Law Attorney First

If you are establishing an end of life care plan, you will want to speak with an elder law attorney in New York first. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with all aspects of your end of life plan – including durable powers of attorney, healthcare agents, and even creating an estate plan. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625, or ask a question online to get started.

Reasons Why You Should Consider Long-Term Care Insurance

Insurance Professional helping a CoupleThere are some things that you can put off and wait a few years before you decide. Purchasing and paying for long-term care insurance is not one of those decisions. Just like estate planning, long-term care insurance is one of those things that you need to focus on as soon as possible – because waiting too long could put you in quite the predicament. Regardless of your health, if you do not have long-term care insurance, now is the time to see about investing in it so that you can protect yourself.

Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Long-Term Care Insurance

If you have not looked into long-term care insurance or you have been waiting to purchase it, here are five reasons to get on your long-term care needs now rather than later:

  1. Your premiums will be lower the earlier you enter. Just like health insurance and life insurance, long-term care insurance premiums are cheaper when you enroll earlier than later. You will also find that you have higher payouts with your insurance when you purchase earlier in life than later. When you calculate the total amount of premiums you pay in a lifetime, it will be significantly lower when you invest earlier than later – regardless of whether you pay for more years. That is because your premium is significantly lower.
  2. You can protect your quality of life. If nothing else, your quality of life should be a main reason to consider long-term care insurance. You can protect your assets, personal savings, and give yourself options for care later when you have long-term care insurance. This insurance will let you decide when and where you receive care, and give you access to the appropriate level of care – and having that freedom is important.
  3. You can stay in your own home longer. Long-term care insurance also allows you to stay in your home longer and avoid being moved to a nursing home or assisted living facility. When you purchase a comprehensive plan, you will have the option of staying at home for as long as it is safe.
  4. Once you have been diagnosed, you could be denied coverage. Just like health insurance, pre-existing conditions and diagnoses can lead to a denial of coverage. Long-term health insurers can deny you even for minor conditions, and if you find an insurer willing to cover you, they will charge you an excessive premium.
  5. Staying with family without burdening them. One of the biggest benefits to long-term care insurance is how it allows you to be with your family without burdening them. You could live with your children, stay social, and be present for family events without financially or medically depending on them for your survival.

Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your Elder Needs

Long-term care insurance is part of a well-rounded elder care plan. Even if you are in perfect health today, you need to plan for the future. Contact the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. to explore your options and get started on an estate plan today. He can help you with everything from Medicare planning to healthcare proxies and more. Schedule your consultation now at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.

The Dangers of Generic Healthcare Proxy Forms

healthcare formsYou may have an estate plan, but what thought have you put into what you would do if you became sick and unable to make decisions on your own? While there are plenty of medical miracles out there, none of them will protect you when you become incapacitated. The only way to ensure that your estate and your loved ones are cared for – and your best interests are considered – is through a healthcare proxy form. While these are offered in surplus online, these DIY generic healthcare forms can do more harm than good – especially when they are not drawn up with the assistance of a New York estate planning attorney.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

When you become incapacitated, it is important that you give someone legal authority to communicate with healthcare professionals and discuss your wishes regarding your care. For example, you may not want to be left on a life-sustaining machine, or you may want to donate your organs. Perhaps you do not want to accept a blood transfusion. These are all decisions that your healthcare proxy can make on your behalf through working closely with healthcare professionals to convey your wishes. Similar to a power of attorney, your healthcare proxy acts as your agent – and it does not have to be a spouse or family member. You can choose anyone whom you would like who is of the legal age to make decisions on your behalf. But, you will want that person to be someone who you trust and will honor your wishes – regardless of how difficult that may be to do.

A healthcare proxy will only take effect if you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions on your own. If you are later able to make decisions, then the healthcare proxy will no longer make decisions for you – such as in the case of being temporarily unconscious.

Choosing Your Agent

Because this individual has authority over your care, the agent should be someone who is familiar with you and your wishes. This can be your spouse, parent, child (as long as he or she is over the age of 18), or even a friend. Before executing the proxy, you will want to speak with the person who you are appointing to make sure that he or she is willing to accept the task. Once the healthcare proxy is drawn up, your agent will be given a copy of the document, or the original copy for safe-keeping.

The Dangers of Generic Healthcare Proxies

Online, you will find a slew of generic healthcare proxy forms. They promise that you can fill them out at a discounted rate and appoint your agent, and that they are valid. But, most of these healthcare forms fail to look at the specific laws of your state; they may even ignore laws regarding who can be appointed as an agent. Also, they lack the complexity to protect your wishes – such as whether or not you want to donate your organs, or if you want to be left on life support. Because these generic forms have glaring holes in their content, you may find that when the time comes to use it, it is invalid. Instead of family members being by your bedside, they are in court attempting to fight for their right to make decisions on your behalf.
You can avoid this hassle by having an attorney draft your living will or healthcare directives. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. can assist you with your healthcare proxy and other estate planning forms. Schedule a free consultation today at 516-605-0625, or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

Estate Planning Tips for Unmarried, Cohabitating Couples

estate planning with a lawyerJust because you are not married does not mean that you cannot create an estate plan together. It is a common misconception that you must be married to share an estate plan. With more couples cohabitating, but staying unmarried, it is important to reassess your estate and how to protect your loved ones – even if you are not bound by a legal marriage certificate.

Four Tips for Your Estate Plan

If you are living with your significant other, you need an estate plan that reflects your current living situation and relationship. Estate planning issues for unmarried couples are difficult, and not as clear as they are for married couples – and a partner could easily miss the family home, your retirement accounts, and support, regardless of whether you have been together (unmarried) for 20 years. That is because estate laws tend to favor married couples and neglect those who are not legally bound. Therefore, if you are ready to protect your estate and your loved one, here are a few things to consider when you create your estate plan:

  1. Draw up your estate plan and list each other as a beneficiary. You and your significant other need to create individual estate plans. Then, you will need to sit down and discuss your beneficiaries. While you will obviously choose one another as beneficiaries, you will also need backups – and you may want to make sure that you both agree on each other’s backups. Then, you will want to list one another on each other’s retirement accounts. Even if your significant other is listed as your beneficiary on bank and retirement accounts, you need an official will that designates him or her as the beneficiary – to cover all bases.
  2. Property must be titled properly. If you and your partner are living in a house that only one partner owns, you have an inheritance issue that needs to be addressed. If the owning partner were to pass away, the non-owning partner would have no legal claim to that property. But, you can prevent this on the title. Just because one partner is on the loan does not mean that he or she is the owner. If both names are listed on the property’s title, then both partners are considered legal owners – regardless of which partner has the financing under their name.
  3. Do not forget about health. While you may be in great health now, consider the future or what would happen if one of you became incapacitated in an accident. In this case, the law becomes fuzzy as to who would have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf – and likely, the law would refer back to a family member instead of your partner. By having a durable power of attorney, you can designate your partner to manage your health care decisions, as well as manage your property and finances while you are unable to do so.
  4. Plan in case the relationship doesn’t last. While you are tying yourself together with a will, do not forget to plan in case the relationship ends. You can draw up a living together agreement, which determines who is responsible for what if you were to split – since normal divorce laws do not apply in your situation.
  5. Consult with an attorney. While you may find plenty of DIY wills and trusts online, the unmarried, cohabitating couple needs to consult with an estate planning attorney. An attorney will assess both of your estates and help you come up with an estate plan that addresses the unique issues surrounding your relationship.

Contact a Will Attorney in Long Island Today

If you are in need of a new estate plan or you want to protect your assets, as well as your unmarried partner, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. today. He can assist you with your unique estate planning needs. Call 516-605-0625 to schedule a consultation or ask a question online now.

Top Five Reasons to Update or Review Your Current Will

Worksheet for Planning Your EstateThere are numerous reasons why you may need to review or update your current estate plan. While it may seem slightly morbid to stay on top of your estate plan constantly, doing so will ensure that your loved ones are not left with a complicated mess upon your passing. Instead of thinking of the morbidity of the estate plan, consider the benefits – such as leaving your children with caregivers, ensuring that your debts are taken care of, etc. The more positive that you make it – and the more you stay on top of it – the more beneficial your estate plan will be for you and your loved ones.

Planning ahead is always best, which is why a will attorney in Long Island will tell you to review your will annually, or at least bi-annually, to make sure that it is still relevant. But, there are also life changes that may require you to review your estate plan sooner.

When Should I Review or Update My Estate Plan?

Outside of the one to two year rule, there are instances in your life that require you to do an automatic review of your current estate plan. These include:

  1. Changes in family or relationships. Have you recently gotten a divorce? Perhaps you are no longer on good terms with a beneficiary. Any relationship or family changes should warrant a quick look at your estate plan. You may need to move beneficiaries around, or even add in new beneficiaries. Relationships are not just with people, either – they can be with charitable organizations. For example, you have left a large majority of your estate to a local charity, but now you no longer want to contribute to that charity. This will require you to change your beneficiary to a new charity or individual.
  2. Asset changes. If your estate has experienced any asset changes – whether you have acquired new assets or sold old ones, you need to reassess your current estate plan. Assets are protected in an estate plan and if they are no longer relevant, they need to be updated.
  3. You have moved to another state. The laws regarding estates and probate will vary from state-to-state. If you have relocated to a new state, but your will was drafted in your old state, you will need to have it updated to reflect all relevant estate laws of your new state.
  4. Tax law changes. Tax laws do play a role in your estate plan’s efficiency. State and federal tax laws are constantly changing, and you need to review your estate plan any time when you notice a change in these laws. Stay informed on recent updates or make sure that your will attorney is up-to-date on the latest tax laws.
  5. Decrease or increase in value. If the value of your estate has suffered a change, you will want to review your plan and see if there are better options out there. Perhaps you did not have a high enough value to warrant a trust, but now you have added more assets and value, and need to move those assets into a trust. Regardless, any time when you have a significant fluctuation in value (good or bad), you need to have your will reassessed.

Speak with a Will Attorney in Long Island Today

If you have not reviewed your estate plan in a while, now is the time to have it looked over. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. today to explore your options. He can review your existing estate plan and make sure that it is relevant for today. Contact him now for a free consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.

5 Legal Issues Facing Grandparents

 grandchildren Most people assume that by the time they are grandparents, they will not have too many parenting-like hassles. Your kids are fully grown and self-sufficient. Some may even have their own families. Most likely you are now looking toward retirement and all that comes with it. But, the life of being a grandparent is not always easy and there are plenty of legal issues that can arise during those retirement years.

5 Issues Grandparents May Face

Most of these issues will depend on your overall family dynamic, but they are still worth noting. Some of these issues can be resolved with the assistance of an elder law attorney or estate planning attorney, while others may just require a conversation with family members. These legal issues can include:

  1. Holiday visitation rights. Some parental relationships will end in divorce, but where does that leave maternal or paternal grandparents? Some grandparents may wonder if they too are entitled to holiday visitation with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, this is dependent on the court’s rulings as well as the child’s custody paperwork.
  2. Grandparents could pay child support. Grandparents do want to be cautious about any visitation rights they attempt to exercise or any custody battles they enter. That is because in some scenarios, a grandparent could actually be required to pay child support.
  3. Scam artists that target elderly people. Unfortunately, there are those out there that look to take advantage of older generations that are unaware of their rights or sometimes without all of their faculties. These scam artists will specifically target the elderly with health care scams, investment opportunities or even retirement income options – especially if they know you are desperate for an income.
  4. Leaving assets to grandchildren. There are times that grandparents may want to leave assets to their grandchildren instead of their own children. There are state issues as well as IRS provisions and trusts that make it easier for grandparents to do just that. If you wish to leave money or assets to your grandchildren, whether for school or another reason, you will want to speak with an estate planning attorney to setup the proper type of trust.
  5. The issue of the living will. Many grandparents avoid the conversation about what will happen if they die or become incapacitated, but it is a conversation people must have with their loved ones.  A living will is a tool that you can use to ensure that your wishes are honored – and to make sure that family members are not forced to make difficult decisions on your behalf.

Do You Have Concerns as a Grandparent? Contact an Estate Planning Attorney for Help

Whether you have concerns about your Medicaid, health care costs or how you will handle giving assets to your children and grandchildren, an estate planning attorney can help. The Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin is here to help you draft necessary documents to protect your estate as well as your loved ones. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss your issues today at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form with your legal questions.

Steps to Administering an Estate

estate planning The administration process of an estate or trust will typically take six months to a year to complete – and that is a big role to take for anyone. The fiduciary will have numerous tasks that they must complete as part of their role as the administrator of the estate. They will also have long periods of waiting; in which they must constantly keep up-to-date on the progress of the estate. In addition, there are numerous complications that can arise during estate administration, such as contests, disputes among beneficiaries and other assets that are difficult to liquidate.

If you have been given the role of executor of an estate, you are taking on a big task and one that you may not be fully prepared for. That is why it is important to understand the steps involved in a typical estate administration, so that you can better understand what to expect.

What to Expect as an Estate Executor

  1. Take Charge of the Estate – The first step will be to assume your role and secure all paperwork necessary to show that you have the authority to operate as the executor of the estate. This will mean applying to the court for letters of authority based on the contents of the deceased’s will. You will then also need to obtain a tax ID number from the IRS as the estate to file taxes for any income received by the estate.
  2. Sending Notifications – You will then notify all parties interested in the estate or trust.
  3. Inventorying all Assets – Your next job is to identify and list all assets associated with the estate. You will then send that list to the court as well as all known beneficiaries. The fiduciary will then gather the assets under his or her name and the new tax number.
  4. Paying All Debts – Before anything can be distributed to the beneficiaries, the debts of the estate must first be satisfied. Creditors will have six months from the date of the death to file their claims and the estate’s executor must pay them as soon as possible.
  5. Filing Taxes – The executor is also responsible for filing income tax returns for the estate. He or she must file these with the state as well as the IRS and pay any applicable estate taxes before the rest of the assets can be distributed.
  6. Distributing and Accounting for Assets – This is the final step of the estate’s administration. It requires the executor to present an accounting of all assets, all debts paid and any distributions for approval by the court and all beneficiaries associated with the estate. The final distributions cannot be made until any objections are heard and resolved.

Finding the Right Executor Starts with Drafting the Right Will

Before you can even select your executor, you need to start inventorying your assets and coming up with a plan for how you want your assets handled upon your death. This starts by engaging in a conversation with a New York estate planning attorney. If you have not yet drafted a will or moved your assets into a trust, now is the time. Speak with someone from the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin today during a free consultation at 516-605-0625. You can also ask a question online via our online contact form.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Create a Trust?

attorney assisted trust You already know the benefits of creating a living trust – and you want your estate to avoid probate court. But, how do you proceed after you have made such a decision? You may be curious if you can create your own trust. After all, there are plenty of DIY websites out there and how-to documents to help you through the process. While it is true people with little education could easily set up a trust, these trusts often lack the complexity and ignore the state’s specific trust laws, which leaves their estate vulnerable.

To decide if you need an attorney or not, it is in your best interest to first understand the purpose of a living trust.

Do Living Trusts Help You Avoid Probate?

You want to avoid probate court and give your loved ones the opportunity to grieve without having to attend court hearings. A revocable living trust, unlike your standard will, will give your family members a fast, private and probate-free way to administer the estate upon your death. While the living trust does not substitute for your will, it will be more efficient when it comes to transferring property upon your death.

The Cost of a Living Trust

When you hire an attorney, you may pay an hourly rate or a flat fee to have the living trust set up. If you are doing it at the same time you are drafting a will, you will find that you pay less since attorneys will file their services together to help clients save money. You can still expect to pay over $1,000 to have the trust created and submitted to the court, but you get what you pay for. When you pay the cheap several hundred-dollar fee of online trust and will websites, you are not getting the same legal expertise an attorney has. Plus, these sites are not built for the specific laws that your state requires your trust to address in order to be valid.

The Basics of a Living Trust

A revocable living trust will include certain basics, such as:

  • The name of the grantor, settlor or trustor;
  • The name of the person responsible for managing the trust and all assets included in that trust;
  • The name of the person that will take over responsibility of managing the trust after you pass away (known as the successor trustee);
  • The name of those that you leave your trust property to;
  • The name of the individual in charge of managing your assets left in the trust for minor beneficiaries.

Do You Need an Attorney?

As long as a trust contains the right basic elements, it should be valid. But, that is not to say that you will leave out a valuable asset, name the wrong beneficiary or use the wrong wording in your trust to make it invalid. While it may cost more to hire a professional, the benefits often outweigh such costs. In fact, for a few extra hundred dollars, you will have peace of mind in knowing that your family (and your estate) is truly protected.

Contact a New York Trust Attorney

If you are ready to protect your family and your estate, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. We offer free consultations to discuss your will and other estate planning concerns. Schedule your consultation now by calling 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form with your legal questions.

Inheritance Laws and Your Rights: Things You Need to Know

inheritance lawsInheritance laws are what determine the rights of survivors and how they will inherit a decedent’s property. Every state has their own set of inheritance laws and these laws are rather complex. Therefore, it is in your best interest to hire an estate lawyer that can assist you with your state’s laws to ensure your rights are protected.

Understanding the Inheritance Hierarchy Without a Will

If a person dies without a will, it is considered an “intestate” situation. The state of New York will then distribute property in that estate according to statutory schemes of succession, known as the hierarchy of succession. The goal of these laws is to distribute assets for the estate in a way which the decedent most likely would have distributed them themselves since there is no will to determine otherwise.

Spouse and Children

If the deceased has no surviving children, but does have a surviving spouse, all assets from the estate would then pass to the surviving spouse. The estate would, however, be distributed differently if the deceased left a spouse and children. The spouse is entitled by law to $50,000 and half of the remaining property. Then, children would be distributed equally based on what is left and how many children there are to distribute assets to. All children are included within the equal distribution – including those that were adopted or those not born to the surviving spouse (step-children).

Parents and Siblings

If the deceased dies with no surviving spouse or children of record, but they do have surviving parents, then the property would be given to the parents. If the deceased has no surviving parents, the next in line of the hierarchy would be surviving siblings. If there are multiple siblings, the assets would be distributed equally among all siblings. If one sibling has passed, but they have surviving children, their children would then have the sibling’s share distributed equally among them.

Other Relatives by Marriage or Blood

In some cases, a deceased individual may have no other qualifying relatives except for their distant ones. These relatives could receive a portion of the estate if there are no siblings, parents, children or spouses left. If the deceased has grandparents, the estate would then be divided amongst the grandparents (maternal and paternal).

Limitations to the Hierarchy

The estate will escheat or revert back to the state if there are no surviving heirs of the estate. New York law will look as far as great grandchildren before determining that there is no one eligible to inherit the deceased’s estate.

The Importance of Having a Will – Contact a NY Estate Planning Attorney

While you may think the state’s hierarchy will protect those that you love, your estate could be inherited by a family member that you never intended to inherit your assets. This is why it is imperative that you hire an estate planning attorney to assist you with your will and possibly setting up a trust. By having a will, you can prevent having the state determine where your estate will be distributed and ensure your loved ones are properly cared for. Contact the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today regarding your will. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625 or fill out an online contact form with your questions.

Benefits of Creating a Discretionary Lifetime Trust

lifetime trustWhen you are exploring your options for passing on your estate to your beneficiaries – including your spouse, children, or other beneficiaries – one option that you may want to consider is creating a discretionary lifetime trust for each beneficiary. These offer a level of asset protection for your beneficiaries, and also a legal barrier that bars creditors, and even divorcing spouses, from taking away what you wanted your beneficiaries to inherit.

Using Lifetime Trusts for Minors

When beneficiaries are minors, a trust is required to keep the beneficiary’s inheritance until they reach a specific age. Most of the time, parents will pick an age that ranges from 20 to 30 years – when they feel that their beneficiary is mature enough to invest or manage their own inheritance funds. When the beneficiary reaches the specified age and the trust is distributed, the property becomes the beneficiary’s property; therefore, it is subject to creditor claims and divorcing spouses directly associated with the beneficiary.

To protect minors from such actions, you could create a discretionary lifetime trust. This will allow the trust to continue during their lifetime. When drafted properly, it creates a layer of asset protection for the beneficiary – so that, even if they are sued or file for divorce in the future, their inheritance is not affected.

Using Lifetime Trusts for Adults

Discretionary lifetime trusts benefit adults just as much as minors. You could set one up for a beneficiary of any age, including your own spouse. The same reasons for a minor lifetime trust apply for an adult one: To protect their assets.

Also, if the adult beneficiary is already known to mismanage money, you can create a trust and still give him or her an inheritance without worrying about how or what he or she will spend it on, because a lifetime trust will protect the beneficiary from outside influences, and his or her own bad decisions – as well as excessive spending habits.

Three Key Benefits

To sum it up, there are three key benefits to creating a discretionary lifetime trust:

  1. The beneficiary never receives an outright distribution or lump sum payment from his or her inheritance. Instead, the money is kept in a trust to ensure that he or she cannot spend it all at once. He or she is then given smaller, more manageable distributions.
  2. Beneficiaries of the trust receive distributions for health, educational purposes, maintenance, and support. The trustee will have discretion over the distributions made to the beneficiaries.
  3. If the beneficiary is sued, has creditor judgments, or gets divorced, the lifetime trust is inaccessible.

Protect Your Beneficiaries – Create a Lifetime Trust

If you want to protect your beneficiaries and ensure that they can enjoy their inheritance for the rest of their lives, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. We can help you explore options for trusts, including special trusts for adult beneficiaries, as well as trusts for minor children. To get started, schedule your free consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

How to Choose Beneficiaries for Your Life Insurance Policies

insurance policy paperworkWhen you purchase life insurance, you must also designate a beneficiary for your policy. This beneficiary is the individual who will then receive financial compensation upon your death. While it does sound easy enough picking a name, this is not a decision that you should make lightly. Beneficiaries are tied to your policy until you change them – and changing them is not always easy. Therefore, you want to take your time when designating a beneficiary, and possibly enlist the help of your attorney to correlate decisions with your existing estate plan.

Tips for Picking the Right Beneficiary

There are no rules to picking beneficiaries – and you are not required to select family members, either. When thinking about who you would like to receive compensation, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Determine who you are going to help. The purpose of life insurance is to help a loved one after your death. This could be a child, spouse, or even a distant relative. Some people use their life insurance to cover unpaid business debts – so that they may leave it to a business partner. When picking your beneficiary, think about the financial welfare of your family and friends, and decide who you want to help with your life insurance payout.
  2. Know your options for beneficiaries. Your beneficiary doesn’t have to be a family member, or even a person. In fact, you can have a trust listed as your beneficiary. You can also list a charity. Charities are great options if your family is already financially taken care of, and you want to extend your family’s legacy by giving to others.
  3. Consider the beneficiary’s current circumstances. Realize that, though you are trying to help, giving someone your life insurance payout could actually hurt them. For example, family members who are disabled have a specific income level that allows them to collect disability payments from the state. If they were to receive your life insurance payout, they may no longer qualify for disability – something that they rely on to thrive.
  4. Always assign a contingent beneficiary. When you select a beneficiary, always assign a contingent or secondary beneficiary. This ensures that, if the initial beneficiary cannot receive your life insurance payout, there is another named in his or her place.
  5. Reassess often. Also, do not forget to reassess your beneficiary selections frequently to make sure that they are still applicable. As your life changes, and your loved one’s financial situations change, you may find that your initial beneficiary is no longer your choice in the future.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney for More Beneficiary Tips

If you are creating an estate plan, you need the assistance of a Long Island estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you designate the right beneficiaries and correlate them with your will or trust. To get started, explore your options by contacting the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today at 516-605-0625. You can also ask a question online.

Attorney Andrew Lamkin Joins the ‘Chillin’ with Adam’ Board of Directors

Chillin' with Adam

‘Chillin with Adam’ is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to raising money for programs for children battling cancer.

May 2, 2016 – Plainview, NY – Attorney Andrew Lamkin recently announced that he has agreed to join The “Chillin’ with Adam” Adam Gaynes Foundation Inc. Board of Directors in April 2016. Chillin’ with Adam is a non-profit organization “dedicated to raising money for the care, comfort, happiness, education, and cure of children diagnosed with brain tumors and other disabilities.” The organization has made a significant impact in the lives of children suffering from brain tumors, cancer, blood disorders, and other incurable diseases, as well as their families.

“I am honored to serve the Chillin’ with Adam organization as a member of their Board of Directors,” said Attorney Lamkin, founder of the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. “Helping families navigate through special needs law and community assistance programs is a large part of my professional business, and I am honored to give back to the community by extending my services to the families that need it most – families with children suffering from cancer and other disabilities.”

“We are excited to have Andrew on the board,” says The Adam Gaynes Foundation Co-President, Arlene Gaynes. “His professional knowledge and experience in special needs law, as well as his passion and dedication to helping people throughout the community, will be inspiring and a major asset to many of the families, caregivers, and children that we help every day.”

The Chillin’ with Adam Gaynes Foundation was founded in honor of 11-year-old Adam Gaynes, who lost his lifelong battle to a brain tumor in August 2004. Since its inception, the organization has raised and donated over $2.25 million.

“Our mission is to raise funds for these children, and give the funds to various projects and programs at hospitals and schools that will make their lives a little easier while inspiring hope that one day there will be a cure,” says David Gaynes, Adam’s father and co-founder of the organization.

For more information:

For further details about the Chillin’ with Adam Gaynes Foundation, please visit www.chillinwithadam.org/blog/

For additional information about Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, visit lamkinelderlaw.com

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Media Contact:
Andrew Lamkin
Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.
781 Old Country Rd.
Plainview, NY 11803
516-605-0625
andrew@lamkinelderlaw.com

Five Steps to a Rock Solid Estate Plan

Estate planning should not be something that you second guess yourself on. Instead, you should walk away knowing that your financial and medical future is secured, and that your loved ones will be taken care of if something were to happen to you. In order to have such a feeling, you need to have a solid estate plan. This not only requires the assistance of an estate planning attorney – but it also requires you to prepare for your consultation, and gather all information needed so that an impeccable estate plan can be created to suit your needs. The following is a list of five general steps to take in ensuring that your estate plan will meet your current and future needs.

1. Get an Estate Planning Attorney

The first and most important step in creating a solid estate plan is hiring an estate planning professional. After all, you wouldn’t make a medical decision without your doctor’s advice, so why plan your future without the assistance of professional legal advice? Every step of the estate planning process is critical – from start to finish. A single mistake could have serious, negative consequences for your loved ones and your own health. Before you start officially planning anything, contact a trustworthy attorney.

2. Know What You Need

With the assistance of your attorney, take your time and go over some options. Discuss what might need to be included in your estate plan. Is a will or a trust better suited for your needs? What items do you want to pass on, or what will be sold? Do you have properties that you wish to pass on to a spouse or family member? Perhaps you have a retirement account that you want to give to a beneficiary? All of these items need to be discussed in detail with your lawyer.

3. Gather Necessary Information

You cannot create a solid estate plan without the right information at hand. Estate planning is a technical process that hinges on even the most minute details. If you miss information while planning, you could devalue your business or accidentally leave a retirement account out of the fold. Your attorney will tell you what information to gather. It is in your best interest to heed such advice.

4. Put Everything in Writing

Even minor details should be specified within your estate plan. The wording in this document must be just so – otherwise, errors could be discovered after your passing and invalidate certain items that you specified in your estate plan. The best choice is to have an attorney draft your estate plan to ensure that there are no inaccuracies.

5. Update Frequently

Your estate plan is not something that you create and leave. Instead, it is something that you constantly update, as your needs and overall estate change. If you have a child, you need to update your estate plan. If you divorce, your plan must be updated. You should sit down and review your estate plan annually, or at least bi-annually, with your attorney. Then, any time you have a significant life change (e.g., divorce, death in the family, child, major purchase, etc.), you should also update it with your attorney.

Speak with a Long Island Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you are ready to create a solid estate plan, you need an attorney who understands New York estate planning laws and requirements. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Schedule your free consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

How to Guarantee Your Parents’ Safety in a Retirement Home

elderly woman with kidsYou and your parents have established a list of must-haves for an ideal retirement home. You have toured a few facilities and gotten an idea of what they have to offer. You may have even created a short list of facilities that you are considering. But, before you sign any contracts, apply for benefits, or make your final decision, you need to consider your parents’ safety. Putting your loved one in a retirement home is a big decision – one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are things that you need to do to ensure that your loved one truly receives the care that he or she needs – and to ensure that the facility you select is offering what they show on the surface.

Ask the Right Questions

The best way to ensure your loved one’s safety is by asking the right questions while touring the facility with your loved one. You want to get their insight. Then, ask yourself the same questions and put yourself in your loved one’s shoes – that way, you could assess how you would feel in the same home. Some questions to ask include:

  • Are you comfortable here?
  • Does anything worry you about the facility?
  • Do you feel safe here?
  • If you needed help, how long would it take for someone to respond?
  • What are the other residents like? Does everyone seem happy and social?
  • What is the staff like? How are they trained? What is their attitude toward those they are caring for?

Look Out for the Warning Signs of Bad Care

There are red flags typically seen at poor quality retirement homes. You can spot them sometimes during a tour, while other times it may not be as noticeable until your loved one has actually moved in. But, being on the lookout for these red flags is important. Some things to look for include:

  • Emotional or physical changes in your loved one. If they seem less functional than they were before going into the home, or they appear to have anxiety or depression, you need to question why.
  • Deflected questions from staff. If staff seem evasive, especially when you are asking a question about your loved one’s care (or lack thereof), you need to be wary. Questions about your loved one’s health should never be deflected or left unanswered.
  • Inadequate staffing or frantic staff. When staff seem easily frazzled or frantic because they are overwhelmed, this is a warning sign that it is time to relocate your loved one. Often, these facilities are understaffed or deal with unexpected high turnover rates – meaning that your loved one’s level of care could greatly fluctuate in between rehiring and training new caretakers.
  • Your loved one is vocal about his or her caretakers. Sometimes, your loved one may even tell you that he or she does not like specific members of the staff, or ask that certain caretakers not be in charge.

Protect Your Loved One with Proper Medicaid Planning

Medicaid is what your parents will depend on when they get older. You can help them with home health and retirement living by speaking with an elder law attorney. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today regarding your loved ones’ needs. Schedule a consultation at 516-605-0625 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.

Three Easy and Effective Ways to Avoid Probate in New York

probateProbate can be slow and costly, tying up your estate for months or even years, and consuming a substantial amount of the estate that you intend to leave for your loved ones. But it does not necessarily have to be this way. There are several simple steps that can be taken to bypass probate, and ensure that a greater portion of your estate passes on directly to your loved ones without lengthy complications and expensive legal fees.

Probate in New York

When a person dies, something has to be done with the estate (assets and debts) that the decedent leaves behind. Probate – which is based on the Latin word “probo,” meaning to prove – is the legal process of finalizing a person’s estate after he or she has died. It includes the following activities:

  • Verifying the validity of the decedent’s will
  • Taking inventory of the decedent’s assets
  • Having the decedent’s property appraised
  • Paying off any debts and taxes
  • Distributing the remaining proceeds according to the decedent’s will or New York intestate law.

Probate is presided over by the executor, who is named in the decedent’s will, and often requires the help of an experienced probate attorney. The process can typically last for several months to a year, and can be notably expensive and time-consuming for the decedent’s survivors.

To ease the burden on their survivors, many people make plans to enable their estates to avoid probate. But, this can also be time-consuming and expensive. Whether or not it makes sense for you to make complex probate avoidance decisions will depend on your age, health, and the overall size of your estate.

Avoiding Probate in New York

There is rarely any need for young, healthy people to involve themselves in complex plans to avoid probate, as they will only have to redo it later in life in order to reflect the many changes that will have occurred. On the other hand, if you are older, in poor health, or have a sizable estate, you may want to do whatever you can to save your family the trouble and expense of having your estate go through probate.

There are several different ways to avoid probate. Here is a list of the easiest and most-effective ways to do so in New York:

1. Joint Ownership

When you and your spouse own assets together, the assets will most likely pass on to the other without going through probate when the first spouse dies. Check to make sure that the title to your property is held jointly, and in the proper manner, according to New York property law.

2. Naming Beneficiaries for Pay-On-Death and Transfer-On-Death Designations

Pay-On-Death (POD) designations can be added to bank accounts and certificates of deposits in order to have funds transferred directly to a beneficiary upon your death, thereby bypassing probate. The same thing can be done for securities and mutual funds by simply adding a Transfer-On-Death (TOD) beneficiary to your brokerage account.

3. A Revocable Living Trust

Creating a living trust, which is no more complicated than creating a will, is one of the most popular ways of avoiding probate. Once you create the trust, you can hold property in trust without having to relinquish any control and without any tax consequences. Upon your death, the property in the trust can be distributed by the person who you name as your trustee to whomever you name as a beneficiary – without the need for probate. Once all property in the trust has been distributed, the trust will cease to exist.

Contact a Long Island Probate Lawyer Today

Probate law is complex; there are a variety of things that can go wrong if you attempt to navigate the law without the help of an attorney. Therefore, as you take steps to avoid probate, it would be in your best interest to draw upon the knowledge of an experienced probate lawyer. He or she can help you avoid tax and probate consequences, and ensure that your heirs inherit as much of your estate as they are entitled to, without lengthy complications and expensive legal fees.
Call the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C. at 516-605-0625 or contact me online to schedule an appointment with an experienced Long Island, NY probate attorney. I am available to meet with you at your home or my office, and would be happy to discuss the specific options available to you.