The Steps to Creating a Solid Estate Plan for the Elderly

No one sets out thinking about mortality. But eventually, you will come to the point where addressing your mortality is critical for yourself and your loved ones.

Ideally, you should start estate planning in your 20s. Most experts would agree that by then you have an income, debts, and possibly assets. All of which need to be addressed in an estate plan. In the United States, 81 percent of those ages 72 or older do have an estate plan, And Baby Boomers (ages 53 to 71) have 58 percent of their generation with a solid estate plan, too. However, an astounding 64 percent of Generation Xers (ages 37 to 52) do not have any estate plan. Therefore, if you are reaching retirement or you are a Baby Boomer without an estate plan, now is the time to implement one.

When you are retired or reaching retirement age, your estate planning is more complicated (and often feels rushed) compared to someone in their 20s. You do not have as many years to make corrections or put long-term plans in place. Also, you may need to conduct long-term care planning over the course of a few weeks rather than months.

Even if you do not have an estate plan, there is never a wrong time to start. An estate plan protects your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions, but also ensures that your assets go to the beneficiaries you want to receive your estate.

Essential Steps to Follow for Plainview, NY Seniors Ready to Plan

Whether you are in your 50s or pushing 70, now is the time to get your estate in order. You may need to move quickly, but do not over-rush your decisions. Take the time to think about what you want and confer with family to see if they agree with your choice.

Pick Your Estate Team

You need an estate planning team. This team of professionals will help create a plan that not only adheres to local laws but also protects your financial interests. A good team starts with an estate planning attorney. You will want an attorney that also has experience in elder law since some of the issues you must address focus specifically in that area of the law.

An accountant and financial advisor should also be brought into the team. You may already have an accountant that handles your budgets and taxes or an advisor that addresses your retirement. Regardless, having them ready to consult on your estate plan is critical.

Take Inventory

Before your first meeting with an attorney, get an inventory of the estate. This includes:

  • Assets
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Real estate and business holdings
  • Sentimental items
  • Collectibles
  • Debts owed by the estate

Think about the Critical Questions

You can streamline the estate planning process if you have some of the tougher questions already answered at your first appointment. These questions include:

  • Who should inherit your assets?
  • Who should be named as your guardian if you become incapacitated?
  • Who should be responsible for the execution of your will (i.e. the executor)?
  • Who should make financial and medical decisions if you cannot do so yourself?

Include the Essential Forms

You need the proper estate planning documents created to protect you and your estate. Your attorney will help decide which documents apply specifically to your case. Some that you can expect to file include:

  • Advance Healthcare Directive – This discusses all healthcare preferences, including your wishes for life-saving treatments, blood transfusions, oxygen, and resuscitation.
  • Power of Attorney – The power of attorney appoints someone who will handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. This party can be the same as the person named for your healthcare decisions, a professional, or a separate family member.
  • HIPAA Release Form – The HIPAA release form allows those named for your health care directive and the power of attorney to access any health information so that they may handle insurance and healthcare decisions on your behalf.
  • Will – Your will outlines your wishes, transfers assets to beneficiaries, and discusses funeral/burial wishes.
  • Living Trust – Instead of transferring assets through a will, which requires that assets go through probate, you can establish a living trust. All assets are then moved into the trust, and upon your death automatically transfer to beneficiaries named in the documents. These are faster and more flexible, but not always necessary. If you suspect that your will would be contested, it may be in your best interest to create a living trust.

Write Your Funeral or Memorial Instructions

Some people find this the hardest part of estate planning – addressing their death. While you could include funeral and burial wishes in your will, it is recommended that you also write them down elsewhere. The reason is that wills may not be opened until days or weeks after the funeral.

Tell friends and family members about your wishes regarding your funeral and burial preferences. Then, give everyone associated with it copies of your requests and store the original in a safe place. If you already purchased a cemetery plot, keep the documentation with the original instruction, provide a copy to your attorney, and tell family members where the location is.

Do Not Forget about Your Pet

Pets are companions and members of the family. Yet, they are often forgotten when it comes to estate planning. You can create wishes and instructions for your pet so that they are cared for too. Name a beneficiary for your pet, or give instructions for what shelter to send the pet to if you were to pass.

Also, choose a backup guardian for your pet in case the party initially named is unable to fulfill their duty.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney

Creating an estate plan when you are older is complicated and requires addressing long-term care and other financial matters. Therefore, it is best that you consult with an attorney who has experience handling elder care plans and estates.

Speak with an attorney today by calling the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. You can schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request an appointment online.

How Aging Affects Memory – and What to Take Care of Now

estate planningMost people assume that it is natural to lose the ability to remember things as they get older. While memory loss does happen as part of the aging process, the intensity and how it affects you depends on the person and type of memory affected.

Also, not all memory loss is part of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. However, a vast majority of the more severe cases are. Therefore, it is essential that individuals and family members act early – including preparing an estate plan – before memory becomes a legal issue.

One Critical Flaw in Estate Plans Made in Plainview, NY

When a couple makes an estate plan, they often list a spouse as their beneficiary and sometimes the executor of their estate. They do this because at the time they draft their estate plan, both parties are of sound mind and have a legal capacity to do so. Unfortunately, years later one party could fall ill or suffer from a form of dementia, rendering them unable to fill their role. Without an alternate designated, the estate could find itself in court with parties battling to take over.

It is essential to plan, especially before memory loss or diseases like dementia take over. The sooner the estate planning starts, the more likely the person with the memory loss can participate and make decisions – and more likely the court is to honor those decisions.

Why Plan Now?

Making legal decisions, including an estate plan now, is essential for a few reasons:

  • Planning early allows for the individual to express their wishes and be involved in the planning – including designating future care.
  • Early planning will eliminate the stress of family members having to guess or make decisions on their loved one’s behalf.
  • Starting early ensures the estate has time to sift through the problematic legal procedures and financial issues that come with long-term care planning, end-of-life management, and estate distribution.

When older individuals start the planning process, they need to ensure that their estate plan includes the core components, such as:

  • Long-term care
  • Financial and property plans
  • Naming an agent and alternate agent

The Role of Capacity in Estate Planning

A person’s capacity plays a substantial role in estate planning. Once a person is legally incapacitated or cannot make decisions for themselves, they rely on documents pre-made in their estate plan to protect them. However, a loss of mental capacity can be quite subjective.

In situations where a person suffers an unexpected loss of capacity or has slowly diminished their capacity over time, the courts would consider the following factors:

  • Can the individual remember details?
  • Does the individual act out of character compared to the typical demeanor?
  • Can that party recognize family members?
  • Does the individual suffer from constant confusion and decreased attention?
  • How difficult is it for the person to speak or follow through in a conversation?
  • Is there a decreased appreciation for risks?

If a person fails the capacity test, then the courts may deem them incapacitated.

If a person is considered incapacity before they finished an estate plan, the documents and decisions they made will be subject to court scrutiny, and the final will could be disregarded entirely.

Therefore, attorneys urge their clients to start the process early. Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and other memory-affecting conditions can strike without notice, and by the time the symptoms are recognized, it could be too late to create an estate plan.

How an Attorney Can Help

While certain documents could be completed without an attorney, it is best to consult one if you suspect that your mental capacity is declining, or you were recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Getting legal advice and services from a local estate planning attorney can be helpful, especially in complicated cases just like this.

Your attorney will discuss the key issues that come with a diagnosis just like this, such as:

  • Your options for health care decisions and which party will make health care decision on your behalf.
  • Your options for managing the property and personal care – and if you will have a separate party designated for that role.
  • Your potential options for long-term care coverage, including veteran benefits, Medicare, or Medicaid qualifications.

5 Essential Tips for Better Planning with Memory Loss

It does not matter how severe the memory loss is now, or whether you suffer from forms of memory loss at all. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for family members to help you, but also protect you from the endless scams out there that target aging individuals specifically.

Some key things to keep in mind while you work on a plan include:

  • Hand Out Copies: Anyone you give a power of attorney designation to should have a copy of the document as well as access to the original – whether that means access to a safe deposit box or a code to an in-home safe.
  • Name a Successor: No matter what the situation is, you need to provide a backup agent or successor to the original power of attorney. That way, if the original party cannot fulfill his or her duty, you have an alternative that was selected by you.
  • Brain Autopsy: Some individuals may want a brain autopsy to identify what caused their dementia or to donate for research. If this is something you want to do, you will need to ensure a power of attorney with health care decision-making power does this.
  • Health Care Providers: Give a copy of your living will to your health care providers so that they know which parties are authorized to make decisions.
  • Attorney: Consider hiring an attorney to manage your estate if you do not have someone that you trust to handle the assets and personal finances.

Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your Care

Avoid the hassles of waiting until the last minute and speak with an attorney about your long-term care planning, wishes, and more today. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. now for a free estate planning consultation at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Retirement Account Rules to Know for Estate Plans

Trusted Estate Plans Lawyer Serving New York Clients

elderly couple planning for futureRetirement accounts are there to provide you with income and financial freedom. While the money is yours, what you can and cannot do with that money is regulated by state and federal tax laws. It is imperative for anyone new to retirement accounts, and those with active accounts, to understand these laws. Failure to comply could result in penalties or fines by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Regulatory guidelines change frequently; therefore, you should keep up-to-date or consult with an attorney and accountant at least once per year to ensure your retirement plan is still compliant.

What Rules Should You Know for Plainview, NY Retirement Accounts?

You have numerous rules to follow when it comes to retirement planning or even taking money from your retirement. Because you worked so hard to earn that money, make sure you keep as much of it as you can and without any headaches by following these key rules:

Cash Out Rules Apply

Some plans have a qualified provision that lets you distribute a vested balance if that amount is less than $5,000 – known as an involuntary cash out. In 2005, the rules changed regarding these cash outs. The new rules require that a plan administrator rolls over your involuntary cash-out amount anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. That means that they cannot distribute amounts inside that range to you, but instead must roll it over into a Traditional IRA. If you are non-responsive after being removed from the company, then the sponsoring company can use an involuntary cash out without your consent.

Therefore, if you do not proceed cautiously, or if you lose your job, your plan could be rolled over into a participating IRA that is not of your choosing.

Plan for Taxes for Beneficiaries

When you create an estate plan, you will designate a beneficiary for your retirement accounts. Realize that the person receiving your retirement balances could be subject to taxation, because retirement accounts are treated the same as other assets. And because retirement accounts are income from the deceased – like all income there are taxes applied.

If the plan is a Roth IRA, however, there may not be the same taxation applied.

Choose Beneficiaries Wisely

When picking a beneficiary for your retirement accounts, be cautious. While most people will name their spouse or children, other times it is best to consider how your estate will be handled upon your death. Will your estate go through probate or does the bulk of your estate go through a trust?

Also, make sure that the designation forms you fill out with your retirement account match the designations in your estate planning forms. Otherwise, your loved ones may have to deal with months in court fighting for which party should receive your retirement funds.

Never Automatically Assign a Retirement Account to a Trust

To avoid probate, you might be tempted to name your trust as the beneficiary of your retirement funds. However, it is highly advised that you consult with an attorney before doing so. You and your attorney must weigh the time and cost of creating a qualified trust versus the costs of allowing the retirement account to pass over without one. Also, consider the amount that your loved one would receive in a payout.

For example, a 401(k) and IRA requires one lump sum distribution upon your death. Therefore, you could not make smaller payments to your loved one to minimize the tax burden – and the same thing happens if you assigned your loved one as the beneficiary of the trust.

Remember That RMDs Often Apply

In most cases, your beneficiaries will be required to take an RMD, which is a required minimum distribution. These are the amounts that the United States government requires for a person to withdraw each year from an IRA or employer-created retirement plan upon the death of the account holder.

Your loved ones should prepare for these RMDs ahead of time. That way they are not accidentally bumped into a higher tax bracket or losing a large portion of their inheritance to income tax. If your loved ones do not accept their RMD, they could face harsher penalties too.

Do Not Forget the Special Rules for Bonds

Savings bonds are especially difficult when it comes to estate planning. If your savings bond names only you as the owner, then your bond is part of your estate. Therefore, it may be subject to probate. According to the new rules outlined by the U.S. Treasury Department, all savings bonds that are more than $100,000 in value must go through probate. However, most estates with sizeable bonds would go through probate regardless, because it is likely they will have assets of equal value – if not more.

On your savings bonds you can create survivor’s options. This is an option for the beneficiary of the bond to sell the bond back if the owner of the bond passes away or becomes legally incapacitated. Only the designated beneficiary in the survivor option can sell back the bond.

Savings bonds are still taxable. Therefore, an owner may pay income taxes on their bonds interest each year or defer tax payments until the bonds are redeemed. Most people defer. Therefore, if you were to leave a bond to a loved one, the accrued interest on the bond and income must be taxed and satisfied before the remaining balance of that bond is given to the beneficiary.

Furthermore, the interest and income earned from that bond may increase your estate value; thus, making your estate subject to estate tax. If your estate ends with more than $5.25 million or more in assets, including savings bonds, then it will be subject to estate tax.

Confused about Retirement Accounts and Estate Planning?

Figuring out the laws when it comes to your retirement accounts and estate plans is not easy. Not only do you have state regulations, but tax laws and federal rules for some retirement accounts. Therefore, it is best that you consult with an estate planning attorney any time you are drafting a will or thinking about naming your trust as the beneficiary to your retirement funds.

To explore your options for hassle-free retirement and estate planning, speak with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Schedule your free case evaluation at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Who Should be the Beneficiary of Your IRA?

beneficiaryYour retirement account holds your hard-earned money, but if you think you can designate just anyone to receive that money, you might be surprised. Your IRA works just like an ordinary retirement account, which means you have a beneficiary designation attached to it.

When you establish your IRA, you will receive a beneficiary designation form. This form has you specify how much of the money is distributed, and to what party, upon your death. Anyone you write in this form will override anything you have in a trust or will. Therefore, you must consider this designation very carefully.

Should You Name a Spouse?

Most married couples will name a spouse for their beneficiary on a retirement form.

There are advantages to naming a spouse, such as:

  • Your spouse is the primary beneficiary, which gives them flexibility upon your death.
  • Your spouse can roll over the IRA – or leave it as an inherited IRA.
  • Your spouse can elect to take distributions when they leave it as an inherited IRA.

There are also cons to naming your spouse, such as:

  • Your spouse can then name any beneficiaries they would like after they inherit the IRA. This obviously means that they could name someone you did not want to inherit the money.

Should You Name a Trust?

In some cases, it may make sense to name a trust as the beneficiary of your retirement account. This allows you to protect the assets in your IRA – so that your spouse can use the funds, but not change the beneficiary. The purpose of the trust would be to ensure that your assets go to your children and spouse.

When you name a spouse, you must draft your trust so that it is properly worded and effective. Often, this stage is done incorrectly, which is why it imperative you work with an experienced estate attorney.

Sometimes you need a conduit IRA, which manages the IRA more efficiently and ensures assets are distributed on a set schedule rather than accelerated one.

There are cons to naming a trust as beneficiary, including:

  • If the IRAs are not large enough, it will cost more than the IRA is worth for the trustee to manage and distribute the funds.
  • This method can be less economical than other distribution methods.

Should You Name Children or Grandchildren?

When you name children or grandchildren who are still legal minors, then your will must have a guardian of the funds. The guardian then manages the inheritance until the children turn at least 18 years old.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney to Explore Your Options Properly

An estate planning attorney can help you with your beneficiary designations, while also helping you decide which route is best based on your personal needs, budget, and a number of assets you currently have.

To explore your options, speak with an attorney today by calling the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. Schedule your free consultation at 516-605-0625, or request more information online.

Estate Plans and Bankruptcy: How are Your Assets Affected?

estate planning and bankruptcyBankruptcy is one of those events in life where even a well-structured asset protection plan can fail you. If you find yourself facing bankruptcy or you have just completed a bankruptcy, you may wonder how this impacts your retirement planning and overall estate plan.

While bankruptcy does have a significant impact on your estate plan, you should not feel devastated. When you work alongside a qualified estate planning attorney, you can put together a plan that protects your assets and helps you still plan for the unexpected regardless of your current asset situation.

Do Not Cash Out

You might be tempted to cash out your retirement accounts to protect them, but that is the opposite of what you should do. Retirement accounts are typically protected from creditor actions, therefore, cashing them out puts your retirement money at risk.

Retirement Accounts are Exempt – Typically

Bankruptcy debtors might retain certain retirement accounts. Qualified retirement accounts include:

  • 401(a)
  • 403(a)
  • 403(b)
  • 408
  • 408A
  • 409

Basically, qualified retirement accounts include any assets or funds that are paid via beneficiary forms, or in the interest of a beneficiary, into a retirement or profit sharing plan according to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Assets that May be Affected in Bankruptcy

Some assets are not protected when you file for bankruptcy; therefore, these assets will be affected and your estate plan may require restructuring after you have completed bankruptcy.

These assets include:

  • The Family Home – In most bankruptcy cases, you would not lose your home. If, however, you have fallen behind on that home and it is foreclosed on, then you would need to remove that home from your estate plan.
  • Investment and Savings Accounts – While retirement accounts are protected from bankruptcy, your investment, brokerage, and savings accounts are not protected.
  • Jewelry – Expensive jewelry may not be protected. While wedding rings up to a certain value can be protected, other expensive jewelry included in your estate may be liquidated.
  • Luxury Items – Luxury assets, like collections, artwork, vacation homes, and boats are all subject to liquidation. Therefore, if you have included any of these items in your estate plan, that plan will need adjustment after the assets are liquidated.

File for Bankruptcy and Reassess

After the bankruptcy is over, you must sit down with your estate attorney and bankruptcy attorney to create a new estate plan. Your estate planning lawyer will review what assets you have left, adjust your estate plan to reflect beneficiaries and asset distribution, and ensure you have a solid plan.

Concerned about Asset Protection? Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney

If you have recently filed for bankruptcy and need to adjust your estate plan – or you want to protect your assets from creditors, divorce, and other future issues – speak with an estate planning attorney.

Estate planning is more than drafting a will. In fact, it is a powerful method of asset protection that ensures that your wealth will be passed on to loved ones.

To get started, schedule a consultation with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today by calling 516-605-0625. You can also request your free consultation by completing our online contact form.

Smart Estate Planning Tips for the Entrepreneur

estate planningAs an entrepreneur, you have spent years focusing on how you can grow your business. While this is an important aspect of business ownership, how much time have you put into considering what will happen to your business if you are injured, suffer a chronic illness, or die?

If you fail to plan, you run the risk of unraveling years of hard work and dedication. Furthermore, if you have employees, the fate of their jobs is at risk too, and your loved ones who depend on your company’s income may find themselves without the financial safety net they once relied on.

Business owners need more than a standard estate plan. In fact, they need a customized plan that includes a power of attorney, trust, and succession plan.

Tips for the Smart Entrepreneur Ready to Create an Estate Plan

Whether your business is one year old or 20 years old, now is the time to protect your hard work and the investment you have put into your business. When you are creating an estate plan, consider some of the following:

  • Start with a will. The first step in estate planning is a last will and testament, called the “will” for short. All business owners need a will, even if you intend to create a trust later. A will specifies how your assets are distributed, who will receive them, and who will serve as your estate’s personal representative (known as the executor).
  • Create a power of attorney. Next, you need a power of attorney. This names one person to handle all business affairs if you are incapacitated, suffer from a chronic illness, or cannot make decisions on your own. The person you designate could be another owner or partner, family member, or even company attorney that you trust. The person will have an enormous amount of power over your business, including handling all assets, financial accounts, receivables and payables, and payroll to employees. Therefore, select someone that knows your business and can run it the way you would if you were still there.
  • Set up your trust. A revocable trust is best for the entrepreneur looking to protect their company, but also their family members. Revocable means that you can modify and move assets later to accommodate any business changes. Also, you can designate someone to manage the assets of your trust if you become incapacitated or die.
  • Create a success plan. You need a formal, written succession plan so that your business can seamlessly transfer upon your death. It is important that you identify a person who will be an adequate new owner or capable enough to carry on your business goals, assume the managerial and executive duties, and run the business successfully. The person you select could be a family member, including a spouse, a business partner, or a third party. The succession plan is by far one of the more complicated areas of your estate plan because you must clarify how the business will transfer to the new owner, rules for hiring new employees, and how family members working for the business will be handled upon your death.

Protect Your Life’s Work by Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney

You have worked hard over the years to create a successful, profitable business. Now is the time to protect all your hard work by creating an estate plan customized with your entrepreneurial work in mind.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. knows how much your business means to you, and that is why we are here to help you protect your business from the unknown. Schedule a free consultation today to see how you can create an estate plan and solid succession plan for your business.

Call 516-605-0625 to schedule your free consultation appointment or inquire about our estate planning services online.

5 Things Your Estate Plan is Missing

Estate PlanningYou have gone through the steps of creating an estate plan, and now you assume that you can sit back, relax, and it will do its job. Sadly, too many consumers make this mistake only to realize that they have blatant errors and omissions when they need their estate plans the most.

Review our list of the five common items that an estate plan misses, and how you can correct them. Even if you are missing these items, there is no need to panic. Instead, schedule a consultation with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. and we can help correct these errors and omissions.

What 5 Items Could be Missing from Your Estate Plan?

Whether you did the estate plan yourself using a template, or you have an attorney complete your estate plan, it is in your best interest to review your plan annually and make sure it is still working to protect you and your loved ones.

Here are five common errors and omissions seen in estate plans to look for too:

  1. A Power of Attorney – An estate plan is not designed solely for when you pass away. In fact, a good estate plan helps in times of incapacitation or serious illness. A power of attorney assigns someone to handle all decisions regarding your children, finances, and health care when you cannot do so yourself. It is a powerful document that should be in every estate plan.
  2. A Back-Up Executor – You named an executor of your estate, which is a great first step. However, you need a backup executor. After all, things change. Executors might move away, pass away, or become unreachable. The courts need a backup to designate as your executor if they cannot reach the primary. Without a backup, the courts must designate a new executor, which takes time, and the person assigned may not be the person you wish to handle the estate.
  3. A Trust – You do not have to be part of the top ten percent to have a trust. A trust is an excellent way to protect family members, but also ensure younger children receive an inheritance when they become legally old enough to accept it. If you have created nothing more than a will, talk to an attorney about adding a trust.
  4. Updates – A will should be updated at least once a year or when any major life event happens. For example, you get married or divorced, have another child, or a beneficiary passes away. By inspecting your will annually, you can catch these errors.
  5. Digital Assets – Digital assets are just as important as tangible, physical assets. These include your online brokerage accounts, bank accounts, blogs, social media accounts, and even online document storage. Today we live in a digitized age; therefore, if your digital assets are not in your estate plan, a bulk of your assets could be missing.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney Today to Correct Your Errors

Whether you have recognized that you are missing a few important items in your estate plan, or you would like to create an estate plan to protect you and your loved ones, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

5 Tips for the New United States Citizen with Estate Planning

new U.S. citizensEstate planning is a necessary step, but no one looks forward to it. If you are ready to protect your assets and your family, you must familiarize yourself with the United States estate planning laws. Also, you will need an attorney to help draft your estate documents, especially considering you could have assets in your home country or beneficiaries in another country that you need to provide for as well.

Tip 1: What are the Federal Laws?

Familiarize yourself with the federal estate laws and how they might affect your situation. As a United States citizen, your assets will now be taxed as a national of this country. Therefore, you could have a tax on your gross estate if that estate is higher than $50,000.

Tip 2: Review the Statutes of New York

In addition to considering the estate laws for federal government, you must also examine the estate taxes and statutes for New York. New York has estate taxes, and you may need to protect your assets with the use of a trust – especially if you have sizeable assets that could be subjected to estate tax.

Tip 3: Have an Attorney Help with Situs

Situs refers to where your property is located. For some types of property, it is easy to determine their location – like your family home. Other assets may not be easy to place, especially those in bank accounts overseas or assets that are in another country.

Tip 4: Create a Trust

While a will is the first step in creating an estate plan, you also need to create a trust. In the United States, citizens typically start with a will, but for foreigners that have recently become citizens, a trust could be a good idea.

Trusts help you avoid probate court and the administration of your estate through probate. Realize, however, that property held inside your trust could still be subjected to state and federal inheritance taxes – depending on how the trust is created.

Tip 5: Always Hire an Attorney

As a new citizen of the United States, you have a complex estate to deal with. Even if you do not have a large number of assets, you still need an attorney that can help bypass the complexities of beneficiaries and laws from outside of the United States territories.

An estate planning attorney can help you through these complexities, create an estate plan that handles international and domestic assets, and protect your wealth.

Hire an Estate Planning Attorney in Long Island Today

If you want to protect your assets, regardless of whether you were born here or became a citizen recently, contact an estate planning attorney in Long Island.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your assets, will, and setting up a trust.

To get started, schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys at 516-605-0625 or request your consultation online.

Essential Estate Planning Tips for New Parents

estate planning with childrenYou are about to be a new parent. While you are excited about all that entails, what have you added to your to-do list? More importantly, what do you have as a top priority?

Sure, you need to prepare your home for your new arrival, and you want to ensure you are as ready as possible for parenthood. However, you also need to prepare for the unknown – and the only way to do so is with a solid estate plan.

Many new parents overlook the importance of estate planning. Often, they feel like they are too young to worry about the “what ifs,” or just figure that they can do so later after the baby comes. But before the baby is born is the perfect time to draft your estate plan and set up your new bundle of joy for a great future.

Basics for Your Will

For starters, you need to establish a will. Wills are an essential component of an estate plan. While they by no means complete the plan itself, if you do not have a will, you leave your estate up to the probate court judge.

In your will, name a guardian for your children. This person would raise your children and care for them if something were to happen to you and your partner.

While the will is essential, you need to focus on other aspects of estate planning too.

What Else Does Estate Planning Entail?

Estate planning is a complex legal process – much more complicated than you might realize. While you might be tempted to use a DIY form online and just whip up anything that looks right, you would be wise to consult with an attorney. After all, this plan dictates how your children are cared for, how assets are distributed, and what happens to your wealth.

Some aspects of estate planning to focus on as a new parent include:

  • Setting up a trust account. You do not have to be in the top five percent to have a trust – not even the top 50 percent. Anyone can create a trust, including the middle and lower class. The trust is there to protect your beneficiaries and assets. Beneficiaries also do not have to worry about the estate tax, which is beneficial if you have a larger estate.
  • Naming the executor. The executor is the person that handles the administration of your estate if you were to pass on. The administrator (executor) manages the probate process and represents your estate in court as well as any civil matters brought against the estate.
  • Naming beneficiaries for assets. Some assets require that you name the recipient of the account when you open the account, such as your retirement accounts, savings, investment, and brokerage accounts. Be sure to update these beneficiary designations so that they reflect your life after having a child.

Get Assistance with Your New Estate Plan

Whether you have an existing estate plan that you need to update with the name of your new addition or you have never created one, contact an attorney who can help you protect your assets and loved ones. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help with all probate, estate planning, and trust needs.

Schedule your free consultation today at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Estate Administration for Family Members: What to Do First

estate planningYou have gone through the steps of arranging a funeral for your loved one that has passed away. However, now you are dealing with your role as the executor. You must administer the estate, but you are unsure where to start.

You do not have experience or knowledge about the process – and most people serving in this role do not. However, you are not alone. Not only do you have a will to guide you, but an attorney by your side to ensure you complete the process.

First Steps to Take After the Death of a Loved One

Unsure where to start in your role as executor? Here are a few steps to keep you on the right track:

  1. Find the original Will – First, you must locate the original will and ensure that it is the only version. If multiple versions exist, look for the latest version and verify with the lawyer that it is the latest. When you were appointed, the deceased should have told you where the will would be stored. If not, ask an attorney of the deceased or a spouse to see if they know where this document is saved.
  2. Obtain the death certificates – Next, you must get the official death certificate along with official copies. These are obtained from the funeral home or local county clerk’s office.
  3. Search for asset and debt information – The estate plan should detail all assets and liabilities associated with the deceased’s estate. You must find these assets and then have them evaluated. Assets can include everything from property to personal belongings, and even financial accounts. Therefore, it is imperative you take your time locating all assets of the deceased.  Categorize assets based on if they are in the sole name of the deceased or jointly owned.
  4. Collect names and addresses of interested parties – Now you must collect the names and contact information of all concerned parties in the estate. Interested parties are those listed in the will, but also any heirs that are entitled to a share of the estate if there was no will.
  5. Secure the assets – Next, you must secure the property associated with the estate. Secure and inventory all property so that it is not taken by family members, lost or stolen.
  6. Track your time and expenses – You are compensated for your time and all expenses you endure out-of-pocket for being the executor of the estate. Therefore, track your hours carefully. To avoid any disputes about your compensation, detail what you did during those hours and keep receipts for all claimed expenses.
  7. Hire an attorney – You have the right to hire a probate attorney for assistance with the administration of the estate. The estate also pays for your lawyer’s legal assistance, and the decedent should have made a provision or fund specifying costs of the lawyer.

Consult with a Probate Attorney

Consult with a probate attorney for assistance with your role as an executor. In Long Island and New York, you can call The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. for help. Schedule your consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Effective Suffolk County Estate Planning Tips

Estate Planning Attorneys Serving Families in Suffolk County

Estate Planning TipsEstate planning is one of those things you know you must complete but are reluctant to do so. Whether the idea of visiting your mortality keeps you away, or you just feel you do not have time, an estate plan offers you and your loved ones’ protection in the event the unexpected happens.

Regardless of how much you have in your estate, you can benefit from an estate plan. Estate plans are more than just a will. In fact, you can designate who takes care of your financial decisions when you are too ill or incapacitated, and you can assign someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. A well-drafted estate plan offers you much more than a way to distribute your assets.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Estate Plan

While estate plans offer a plethora of benefits, they must be implemented properly to get the most from those benefits.

  • Decide who gets what. Before you meet with your estate planning attorney and create a plan, consider whom you want to inherit your assets and how you want those assets distributed. If you have more than one child, will you split your assets fairly or give one child more?
  • Consider adding life insurance to your plan. Life insurance ensures that everyone you support has enough funds to take care of debts, pay off the mortgage, and survive if the unexpected were to happen. You can get life insurance relatively cheap today, and your attorney can work that plan into your estate plan to ensure the assets are given out accordingly.
  • Do not forget the three critical documents. While you have numerous options for estate planning, three documents must always be in your estate plan, including the durable power of attorney, the release of information form, and advanced directives.
  • Consider establishing a trust. With a trust, your estate does not go through probate court; so, your loved ones do not have to worry about the time and money associated with it. Instead, the assets of your estate are transferred to the trust and then transferred to your beneficiaries upon your death.
  • Prepay for funeral services. Instead of telling your family where to go, you can prepay and plan for your funeral services. Do not pay the company directly, however. Instead, set aside funds in your estate plan that are used upon your death. This ensures that there is enough money for your funeral plan, but without the risks of paying a company that might not be in business when you need to use your account.

Work with an Attorney for Suffolk County Estate Planning

Estate planning is not something you should do yourself. While there are forms online and guides that tell you how to create an estate plan, you still need an attorney. An attorney knows the legal logistics that apply to your estate, and they can assist in creating a plan that is unique to your situation.

If you need to establish an estate plan, turn to the services at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin to get started. We offer free consultations to discuss your estate planning needs. Schedule your appointment now at 516-605-0625 or request an appointment online.

Can I Name an Attorney as My Executor?

New York Estate Planning Attorney Helping Families Appoint Executors

attorney as executorChoosing an executor for your estate is a big task that should not be done in haste. After all, you are naming a party who is responsible for managing assets and debts, and ensuring that your loved ones receive their inheritance as you expected them to.

You can choose anyone you like to fill the role of the executor, including an attorney. You can also name more than one agent and designate a co-executor relationship. This creates more accountability, but also conflict. When you have two parties managing your estate, those two sides could disagree, making the courts decide.

Regardless, the law requires you to name an executor, and you should always name a backup in case your primary agent cannot serve. When you look at your options, you might consider hiring an attorney to be the executor.

Per the statute, you can name an attorney as the executor – doing so can offer numerous benefits to your estate and loved ones.

The Benefits of Paying an Executor

An attorney would be someone who is not personally tied to your estate. While a lawyer is a good option, there is no consensus saying they are better over other options. However, when you pay for an executor, you do get some benefits from hiring a family member to fill the role.

These advantages include:

  • You have someone with no conflict of interest to worry about. When you appoint a family member, they stand to inherit from your estate; therefore, they have a conflict of interest that you should consider. An attorney is not personally tied to the estate and stands to inherit nothing, so they have no conflict of interest with how the estate is handled.
  • Fewer accusations of cheating or fraud from beneficiaries. When family members are appointed as the executor, other family members are more likely to accuse them of cheating or fraudulent behavior, especially if they do not receive the inheritance they wanted. When an attorney is an executor, these accusations are less likely, because a lawyer is following the law, knows the proper procedure, and has nothing to gain from his or her actions with the estate.
  • An attorney can fill his or her duties easier than a family member. An estate attorney understands the law and the obligations of his or her role as the executor. That means they know how to gather assets, deal with taxes and filings, and are not suffering the loss of a loved one while handling multiple tasks of estate distribution.
  • Experience with managing larger estates. A larger estate often requires a business to be set up, a trust established, and multiple accounts juggled. If your estate is larger, it is better to hire an institutional fiduciary or professional fiduciary, like an attorney.
  • Acting out of anticipation. If you think your beneficiaries will contest the will or that your estate will require extensive legal work, hiring an attorney for the role of your executor makes financial sense. They can handle these battles without seeking outside counsel, so you receive a two-for-one service situation.

Explore Your Estate Planning Options and Executor Demands with an Attorney

When you are ready to create your estate plan, consider your executor options, then speak with a lawyer at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. We can help with estate administration or draft your estate plan. Schedule a free consultation now at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

What to do When a Beneficiary is Serving a Prison Sentence

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Serving Families and Beneficiaries in Upstate New York

prison sentence A beneficiary of an estate could find him or herself serving time in jail or prison. What is an executor to do when a beneficiary is otherwise detained? The funds from the estate plan are designated for that recipient, but recipients in prison are not exactly capable of accepting their inheritance.

This is a complicated situation that occurs more often than realized. Not only will the executor have a few legal hurdles to get through, but the inmate who is the beneficiary will equally have a few items to handle from the inside of a prison.

Determining how the inheritance is handled will depend on the reason why the beneficiary is incarcerated. If there is an order for restitution to the victim’s family or the victim, that inheritance might never go to the recipient.

When the Inmate is a Beneficiary of a Trust

If the prison inmate is a recipient of the trust, the trustee is obligated to check with the state’s victim compensation board to see if there is a pending compensation. The government claims office must also be reviewed to ensure there is no interest in the inheritance. These agencies handle victim restitution, which is ordered by a criminal court judge during sentencing. The appropriate government office must be paid as quickly as possible after the trust becomes active and by all state laws.

When the Inmate is the Beneficiary of a Life Insurance Policy

Within the estate plan, there might be one or more life insurance policies. These policies could name a prison inmate for the beneficiary position. In this case, the insurance payout would be set up in a trust in the prison inmate’s name; then, the inmate would have discretion in appointing his or her trustee to manage the funds until release.

If, however, the prison inmate was also the person responsible for the death of the policyholder, then there are state laws that prohibit the inmate from collecting on his or her crime.

When the Inmate is an Heir to an Estate

While the will goes through probate, an inmate listed as an heir would require the executor to inform the state and the probate court judge of the incarceration status of the beneficiary. The state’s probate court would then decide how to handle the assets pending in that case.

In some instances, the heir would forfeit his or her right to collect inherited assets, and the other beneficiaries would be entitled to splitting that share of the inheritance intended for the recipient incarcerated. In other instances, those assets could be given to the next of kin of the prisoner, such as a spouse or child.

When there is no will and a beneficiary is incarcerated, the state may decide that the prisoner inherits nothing and goes down the line of succession by the statute to determine the next eligible party for inheriting remaining assets.

Always Consult an Attorney When Dealing with Complex Estate Issues

Numerous complex issues can arise while acting as an executor or drafting an estate plan. That is why it is in your best interest to contact an attorney before trying to interpret the law.

Speak with someone from the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today by calling 516-605-0625 or request a consultation online.

Estate Planning While Unemployed

Experienced Attorney Helping the Unemployed with Estate Planning in Upstate New York

estate planning worksheetTechnically, a person can create an estate plan at any time in his or her life, including while unemployed. Naturally, you want an estate plan that addresses your current assets and protects those assets. Regardless of whether you have money coming in, an estate plan is your best line of defense against creditors and other issues that might arise from your unemployed status.

How Long Will Unemployment Last?

Before establishing your estate plan, you might want to consider how long your unemployment will last. If you were to create a trust and put your assets in that trust, how would that impact your financial liquidity if you needed cash to cover expenses?

If you are freshly unemployed or recently laid off, but expect to retain employment soon, it might be in your best interest to wait until you have acquired a new job – especially if the new position will contain stock benefits or a retirement account. If you create an estate plan while unemployed, then gain a new job with more assets, you would have to redo your estate plan or update it with the new assets to remain relevant.

Do Not Touch Existing Retirement Funds if You Can

If you already have an estate plan, you might worry about cash drying up and think of taking from your pension accounts. However, think twice about withdrawing or taking a loan on a pension account while unemployed. Not only will you deal with taxes on the money removed, but you could also have difficulty paying back a loan to the retirement account when you have no funds coming in.

Consider Options for Life Insurance

While you are unemployed, you might consider life insurance. However, not all policies allow a person who is unemployed to apply and receive a life insurance policy. The application process involves numerous qualification steps to see if you are eligible for a life insurance policy.

If you want to add life insurance to your financial plan, and then include it in an existing estate plan, you may have to apply for smaller amounts of life insurance rather than big ticket policies. The larger the policy value, the higher the demand is for meeting monthly and annual income requirements.

Borrowing from Life Insurance

There are legal complexities when you want to borrow from a life insurance policy, especially if that policy is tied to your estate plan. Therefore, it is best to consult with an estate planning attorney to see how borrowing from a life insurance policy during unemployment may affect your assets or plan.

Need Assistance to Plan for the Unknown?

An estate plan can protect you even during times of unemployment. While you have a job, consider creating an estate plan for those unknown life changes that could pop up when you least expect it.

For assistance with your estate plan, speak with an attorney at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today. You can schedule your free consultation at 516-605-0625 or request more information about estate planning online.

What Happens if You Die Without an Executor Named for Your Estate?

Long Island Estate Planning Attorney Assisting Families with Naming Estate Executors

executor for an estateAn executor is your estate’s personal representative. This individual has a lot of responsibility, as he or she is the person who will carry out the wishes dictated in your estate plan. Furthermore, he or she distributes all assets, pays debts, and manages your accounts until distribution is ready.

You have the right to select anyone whom you would like to be your executor – including an elder law attorney. However, if you do not have an executor named in your will, or the person named is no longer living, the probate court judge might have to appoint someone on your estate’s behalf.

When No Executor is Named

There are numerous instances where an executor might not be named for an estate. In fact, the most common is in a written will, where the testator forgets to name a person. Also, oral wills might neglect the naming of an executor. If one died without a will, it is more likely that he or she will not have an executor named.

A will does not necessarily need to appoint an executor by name, but it can offer an indication of a suitable executor, such as naming the oldest child without mentioning him or her by name. Typically, the courts will consider this a valid appointment, if such a person exists.

When the Courts Must Appoint an Executor

Other times, the court must appoint an executor because none were named or the executor cannot be determined from the information provided by the will. The court allows anyone interested in serving to apply, but it will ensure that the person has something to lose or gain if the will is probated. Sometimes, the court elects a beneficiary to serve, while other times it could appoint a creditor, depending on the situation.

If the Executor Dies

Sometimes, an executor is named, but that executor dies before he or she can serve. In this case, the probate court judge must appoint an administrator.

Ensure That Your Last Will is Drafted Properly – Contact an Estate Planning Attorney

You can spare your loved ones the hassles of scrambling to find an executor by ensuring that your will not only has appointed one, but also has an alternate. An alternate ensures that there is always an executor ready to handle your estate.

Speak with an estate planning lawyer to start on your will by contacting the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin at 516-605-0625 or connect with him online. Consultations are offered free of charge and with no obligation.

A Healthcare Power of Attorney Versus a Living Will

Elder Care Lawyer Discusses Addressing Medical Needs with POA and Living Will for Long Island Residents

power of attorney Your estate planning process starts with the draft of your living will. However, there are more documents needed to create a solid estate plan than just the will itself. In fact, you might include documents that offer protection in the event that you are incapacitated – these documents can dictate your wishes. Among these materials are your living will and healthcare power of attorney. Both documents address your medical concerns, but they are not the same. It is important to understand how each works and then decide if you need one, both, or neither.

How the Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney Are Similar

A living will and a healthcare power of attorney (POA) both let you elect a person to make medical decisions on your behalf. The person must be at least 18 years and of sound mind, and you must be of sound mind at the time when you draft your documents.

How the Documents Are Different

Your living will is limited to your deathbed only. It is what you wish to have done regarding life-prolonging measures. For example, in the event of brain death, you might not want life support machines.

Your durable power of attorney for healthcare covers a multitude of healthcare decisions. But, it only works while you are incapacitated. If you are suddenly capable of making health care decisions on your own, then your durable healthcare power of attorney is no longer active. Within this document, you tell the POA-elected individual how to act regarding healthcare issues and deathbed wishes.

Do You Need Both?

In some cases, yes, you will need both. A living will covers issues like Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), but does not address all medical concerns. For example, you might not want a particular procedure, such as a blood transfusion, to be done. These limitations must be specified in your durable healthcare POA instead of your living will.

Electing the Right Agent is Critical

In both documents, you select an agent. You can use a different agent for each, or the same agent for both. Most individuals choose their spouse, but if you are unmarried, you might elect a surviving parent, friend, sibling, or other relative.

Most importantly, you want someone whom you can trust. You must sit down with that person, explain your wishes, and ensure that he or she is prepared to carry them out. This agent acts on your behalf, so he or she must be able to put your needs and desires before his or her own.

Get Started with a Comprehensive Estate Plan Today

The more comprehensive your estate plan, the more protection you and your loved ones will have. Therefore, it is best that you meet with an estate planning attorney to explore your options. If you already have an estate plan, an elder care lawyer can review it, look for inconsistencies, and ensure that you are fully protected.

Meet the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin today by calling 516-605-0625 or request your free consultation appointment online.

Do I Need a Tax Identification Number for a Parent’s Trust?

Estate Planning Attorney Assisting Long Island Families with Trusts for Parents

parent's trustAfter a loved one passes away, you may be assigned the role of executor of the estate. When there is a trust involved, you might have questions about how to handle the taxes, and whether you will need to receive a TIN or use the TIN already associated with that trust.

Naturally, it is best that you consult with an estate planning attorney. An estate planning and living trust lawyer can assist you with asset distribution and with following the rules of the trust, and can ensure that you comply with all state and federal tax codes related to trust administration.

Do You Need a Tax Identification Number for a Trust?

In the case of an irrevocable trust, you will not use your deceased loved one’s Social Security number for tax purposes. Instead, you will obtain a tax identification number (TIN) for the trust. The reason for this is because from the date of the parent’s death, you distribute trust funds in accordance with the guidelines of that trust. Any income that your parent’s trust earns after that must be reported under a new TIN.

An irrevocable trust activates upon a loved one’s death; this means that, as the executor, you must file a 1041 tax return with the IRS if that trust earns more than $600 in the taxable year. Also, your TIN is required so that you can open a bank account in the name of your parent’s trust, which you can then use to consolidate all assets associated with the trust, pay trust-related expenses, and distribute assets accordingly.

Do Not Distribute Assets Without a TIN

Executors often make the mistake of distributing assets without obtaining a TIN, in the hopes that they can bypass the income and tax return requirements. However, no trust should be distributed right away. While it helps to bypass taxes, the issue at hand is actually that of expenses. Most trusts are set up to handle all expenses associated with the trustee’s estate, and not all expenses are apparent immediately after death.

A good estate attorney will recommend leaving the trust account open for a few months (sometimes for a year, depending on the complexity of the case) to ensure all expenses, medical costs, and other debts are paid. Then, the trust funds can be used to pay any tax liability associated with that trust.

If a trustee distributes all of the trust’s assets before paying taxes and other associated debts, then the trustee is personally responsible for paying that liability, or he or she must approach the beneficiaries of the trust and request the funds back to pay debts – this can create a whole host of legal issues.

Obtaining an EIN for a Trust is Easy

An EIN is the number you will need for your trust, which is the same number used as a TIN. While you might refer to it as the TIN or your tax return will request the TIN, this number is actually an Employment Identification Number (EIN) given to you by the IRS.

  1. Gather all information necessary for the Employment Identification Number (EIN) application, including information about the name of the trust, the trustee’s name, the mailing address, the grantor’s social security number, and the date when the trust was funded.
  2. Use Form SS-4 from the Internal Revenue Service. It is available for free from the IRS website.
  3. Complete SS-4 following all directions listed in the instruction section. You will submit the form for your EIN, which is the same number used as a TIN for trusts.

For faster processing, you can complete Form SS-4 online through the IRS.gov website.

Speak with an Estate Attorney for Assistance Distributing Trust Assets

Sometimes, it is best to contact an estate lawyer before distributing trust assets. Trusts are complicated, but through legal assistance, we can ensure that you obtain EIN numbers, distribute assets, and pay all liabilities properly before distributing assets to beneficiaries.

For assistance with your loved one’s trust, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin at 516-605-0625 or contact his office online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Estate Planning for the Modern Millennial

Long Island, NY Estate Plan Attorney Discusses Estate Planning for Millennials

millennial estate planningMillennials are no longer the young crowd. In fact, more are entering the workforce – and have been for some time – and are getting to the point in their lives when planning for retirement is necessary. Even if you were born in the 80s or 90s, you are not too young to start your estate plan.

Estate planning is not just for retirement; it is all about the unexpected. If you were in an accident, for instance, it would not matter how old you are. It’s important that someone be able to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, or take care of your financials when you cannot.

So, regardless of where you land in the Millennial age group, there are estate planning to-do items to tackle now.

Essential Tips for Millennial Estate Planning

  • Designate a Legacy for Online Accounts: Most of your online accounts, like Google and Facebook, have a person to whom you give your legacy. That person is then in charge of your account upon your death or incapacitation. Your digital life is part of who you are, so it is imperative that you assign a legacy to protect it.
  • Have an advanced healthcare directive. Even if you do not want to plan for retirement or sit down and go through a lengthy estate plan, having a healthcare directive is important. An Advanced Health Directive is one that explains what your medical care wishes are if you are incapacitated. This is then placed in your medical file so that a doctor knows what procedures can and cannot be done for you. For example, you may not want to live with a feeding tube or only by ventilator.
  • Start saving for retirement no matter how far away it seems. Saving for retirement is not something that an average 20-year-old or 30-year-old thinks about, but should. The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better you are preparing for your future self.
  • Have an investment plan in place. To ensure you are saving, open a Roth IRA, or have a 401(k) through your employer.  Savings account interest is not enough to earn anything worthy of retirement, so having an investment plan in place could yield a return that grows your retirement savings quickly.
  • Start thinking about beneficiaries. Even if you are not ready to draft a full-fledged estate plan, you may want to think about recipients. If you are unmarried with no children, who would you want to inherit your assets now? Some Millennials leave their property to their parents, others leave it to siblings, and some opt for a charity. By designating beneficiaries, you can ensure that your assets go to where you want, rather than where the court decides.

Get a Jumpstart on Your Estate Plan by Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney

No matter where you are in your Millennial life, now is the time to start planning. From digital assets to taking care of the retirement savings you have begun, the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help protect it all.

Schedule your free initial consultation with an estate planning lawyer at 516-605-0625 or request an appointment online.

Essential Funeral Planning Steps Every Executor Should Know

Estate Attorney Helping Long Island Residents with Funeral Planning

grieving widowWhile you might have created an estate plan and selected an administrator, how much does that executor know about the funeral? You might be surprised to find out that most people are not sure what steps to take after the death of a loved one. After all, a death is an emotional, tremendous ordeal. Combine that with planning a funeral, and a loved one can be quickly overwhelmed.

To save your family grief, make sure that you have all funeral wishes and plans in your estate plan. Your estate planning lawyer can create instructions for how you would like your body to be handled, who should be notified, which funeral home to use, and more. You can also pre-pay for services so that everything is ready and your loved ones only have to make a few select phone calls.

Note: Funeral Wishes and Estate Plans Are Not the Same

While you will create your funeral wishes with the estate plan, the written requests are not part of your estate plan. Some people think that putting their funeral wishes inside the estate plan is best, but estate plans are not accessible immediately after death. In fact, there could be weeks or months that pass before an estate plan is read. Instead, you need expressed directions about your funeral wishes, and they must be kept separately from your estate plan.

Leave your written instructions with the executor, then send a copy to your loved ones and your estate and funeral planning attorney. This will reduce the likelihood of chaos if someone loses a copy.

Instructions to the Executor that Are Essential

To avoid any confusion, there are certain instructions that every funeral plan should have, including:

  • Whether you want your body buried, embalmed, or cremated.
  • Where you want to be cremated or buried.
  • The container you wish to use for your cremation or burial.
  • How the remains are transported to your funeral facility.
  • If you wish to have a ceremony with your burial or cremation.
  • The details of how you want the ceremony to proceed (if any).
  • If you want a tombstone or other type of grave marker.
  • Who the pallbearers (if any) will be in your ceremony.

It is best that you sign an agreement with a mortuary and ensure that the facility has the services in place to help loved ones carry out your funeral wishes. Some services that a proper mortuary will offer include:

  • Retrieving and transporting your body to the facility.
  • Preparing your body for the funeral or cremation.
  • Storing your body until service.
  • Making funeral arrangements in conjunction with the executor.
  • Performing the funeral ceremony or cremation.

Planning Financial is Critical

A funeral is expensive, and many do not realize how much a funeral can cost. To save your loved ones from having to pay thousands of dollars, determine where you want your services and pay for those services in advance. Most facilities allow pre-payments for services, but shop around to ensure that you are getting a fair deal.

Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney to Plan and Prepare

Meet with an estate and funeral planning lawyer to go over your wishes and your options to ensure that: i) your estate plan is complete, ii) the funeral services are paid for, and iii) your funeral instructions are written.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. offers free consultations. Let us figure out what you need and what arrangements your family should handle, and let us help ensure that everything goes smoothly so that loved ones have adequate time to grieve.

Schedule your consultation appointment now at 516-605-0625 or request an appointment online.

The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney Decades Before Retirement

Estate Attorney Assisting Long Island Residents with Retirement Planning

hiring an estate planning attorneyIf you are like most, you do not think about an estate plan until you are nearing retirement. However, there are key advantages to hiring an estate lawyer well ahead of time. In fact, when you hire an estate planning attorney decades before retirement, you are setting yourself on the path to a successful retirement, and protecting your loved ones along the way.

Why Choose an Attorney for Retirement Planning?

Retirement planning is more than just financials; there are numerous legal issues to address, too. You must consider the financial and legal issues that will come up when you stop working, and a financial advisor cannot adequately address the legal side of retirement. An estate planning lawyer can help you with the tax issues and legal complications that may arise.

Five Reasons to Hire Your Estate and Retirement Planning Attorney Now

  1. Setting up social security and disability. Fewer employers are offering employer-sponsored retirement plans, which means that you may depend more on your Social Security benefits for regular monthly income at retirement. Qualifying and collecting on Social Security is highly sophisticated. You must follow the necessary rules, file your requests, and ensure that you qualify. A Long Island estate lawyer can help set you up for success and ensure that a disability does not hold you back from Social Security income.
  2. You gain insight into common issues that arise post-retirement. One of the biggest benefits to meeting with a NY estate planning attorney before retirement is that an attorney knows what the future will hold (somewhat). He or she understands the potential legal issues that you will encounter – many of which you would not have thought about on your own. Then, an estate planning law firm can help you prepare for them so that your retirement is not full of unexpected surprises or issues.
  3. An attorney can help you achieve your retirement goals. Do you want to have certain assets in a trust? Do you desire to care for children that you have not even had yet? Your estate and retirement planning attorney can learn about your goals and objectives and create an estate plan that both aligns with those retirement goals, and helps you achieve them.
  4. Protecting your assets. You have assets, and they are gaining value. Therefore, you need to ensure that if something were to happen, you have a plan in place that ensures loved ones receive those assets. An estate planning attorney can draft an estate plan that protects your assets, and distributes them to those who should receive them.
  5. Preparing for unexpected health issues. If you were in a car accident tomorrow and you were incapacitated, who would have the power to make medical decisions on your behalf? There is no such thing as too early when it comes to creating a healthcare directive and assigning someone your power of attorney.

Do Not Wait, Meet with an Estate Planning Lawyer Now

Plan well ahead and be more than ready for your retirement by contacting an estate and retirement attorney. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your estate planning needs. Schedule a free consultation at 516-605-0625 or request an appointment online now.

Should I Leave the Family Home to My Children?

Experienced NY Estate Planning Attorney Discusses the Right Time to Transfer the Family Home

keys to the family homeWhen considering your estate plan, one thing you may wonder is whether you should leave the family home to your child or children. You want your loved ones to have your home and a place to live, but there are things that you need to consider first before making such a critical decision.

You May Leave Yourself Without Assets Too Early

If you plan to live at home independently, you may be thinking unrealistically. After all, what happens if your health changes suddenly and you need to reside in a nursing home or hospice center? While this can happen, you must pay for your home or finance the cost of an assisted living facility. Your home is likely a large asset; therefore, giving it away could limit your financial options for care in the future.

You Lose Your Right to Stay at Home (in Certain Cases)

If you were to give your family home to your children, you may not agree with your children when they decide it is time for you to leave the home and receive care elsewhere. While adults want to trust their children, there are circumstances that could make it difficult for you and your adult children. Consider, for example, that an adult child inherits the home and moves in with his or her family. However, later the adult child divorces. The family home is now an asset in his or her divorce, which means that the former spouse could receive the home in the settlement – leaving you with nowhere to stay.

The Issue of Property Tax

You may have reduced real estate taxes due to age or limited income. If your children receive the home, the tax breaks will go away and they will pay the market tax rate for the home.

Children Could Pay Income Tax

You bought your home for a great price years ago; however, it is worth much more today. Therefore, when you give your children the home and they choose to sell that home later, they could face income tax on the profit for the home.

Eligibility for Medicaid May be Affected, Too

When using Medicaid assistance for your bills or assisted living facility fees, if you were to give away the family home, you could be penalized by the government program. Then, when you are out of money, Medicaid may withhold assistance for up to 17 months. This could significantly impact your quality of life.

Instead, Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney

While there are definite disadvantages, there are ways to leave your family home to your adult children without harming your future. Your estate planning attorney can go over those options with you, assess your end-of-life care needs and financial status, and more. He or she will look for any potential negative outcomes and ensure that your wishes are carried out – all while ensuring that you do not put yourself in a compromising situation after doing a good deed.

Schedule a consultation today with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. by calling him at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Estate Planning Concerns for Families with Children with Special Needs

NY Attorney Helping with Estate Planning for Special Needs Families

special needs childIf you have a child with special needs, you must take extra caution when creating your estate plan. It does not matter whether your child with special needs is a minor or an adult. The goal is to ensure that, in the future, your child receives his or her needs-based public benefits, such as Medicare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

When creating your estate plan, these are just a few of the many considerations that you must have in mind. You will need to consider the child’s age at the time when you plan, his or her competency level, and other familial goals. No matter what, you want to provide for your children and ensure that they are taken care of – even if you are not there to do so yourself.

What is the Point of Special Needs Planning?

Special needs planning is what preserves your child’s access to public benefits and enhances your child’s quality of life. This is useful for ensuring that your child has access to lifetime funds, protection of eligibility, and management of money.

Planning Options That May Be Available to You and Your Family

There are several options for creating an estate plan that cares for your child with special needs. These options include:

  • Disinheriting Your Child: This is one of the simplest options, but it will not enrich your child’s life. Most DIY websites will suggest this option, but an estate planning attorney can help find ways for your child to inherit funds and still receive government benefits.
  • Give the Estate to Other Children: If you have more than one child, consider giving your estate to the other children, with the understanding that they would provide for the child with special needs. There are risks to doing this, however. If siblings have poor credit, file for bankruptcy, or go through divorce, the estate could dwindle down – leaving your special needs child without the funds and care needed.
  • Leave an Inheritance to the Child: This will have a negative impact on your child’s ability to receive government benefits. Therefore, you should only do so if you have enough inheritance for your child to cover all associated costs for care – from medical to in-home care. If the inheritance is not substantial, you could leave your child without anything.
  • Create a Special Needs Trust: This is the smartest option, but you will need the services of an attorney who has experience with this type of trust. A special needs trust will allow your child to receive inheritance, but also qualify for public assistance and government benefits.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney About Your Special Needs Trust

If you want to provide for your child with special needs long after you are gone, it is in your best interest to contact an estate planning attorney.

The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your estate plan. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 516-605-0625 or requesting more information online.

How to Plan a Funeral: A Loved One’s Checklist

Understanding Attorneys Helping Families Plan Funerals in Long Island, NY

Tombstone in a GraveyardNo one expects to plan a funeral for a loved one, but when the time comes, they are often unprepared for what tasks they must complete. Often, loved ones are left to guess what the deceased wanted, and the emotions associated with that loss makes it hard for a loved one to plan the proper funeral.

What Happens When You Do Not Leave Written Instructions?

If you do not write down your wishes for your funeral, the state decides who makes those decisions for you. That decision may cause unnecessary grief, especially leaving a spouse or child to plan your funeral.

Also, if you have more than one child, others may feel as though they have a better idea of your wishes, and it could create battles amongst siblings. With a plan, you can dictate who you want to plan your funeral and who will be in charge; doing so may help eliminate any disagreements amongst family members.

What About a Will? Does That Have My Funeral/Burial Wishes?

No, your estate plan is not meant for your funeral or burial plans. Often, these documents are not discovered or read for weeks after your death; therefore, if you had plans written in them, they are not likely to be found in time. Wills are proper for distributing your assets, but not necessarily planning a funeral.

Where to Leave Written Instructions

Once you know how you would like to be buried or how you wish for your funeral to be handled, the next stage is leaving written instructions. Most commonly, people leave these instructions as a written copy with their estate executor, family member, or estate planning attorney. Also, a copy is sent to all loved ones so that everyone is aware of your wishes long before they must follow them.

By mailing the wishes to everyone, you can also eliminate the chance of a dispute, because everyone has the documents in their possession.

When funeral or burial wishes change over time, be sure to change your written instructions and distribute copies to everyone who has an original copy.

Things to Include in Your Funeral Plan

When creating a funeral plan, there are certain items you must include:

  • Whether you want a burial, cremation, or embalming.
  • Where do you want to be buried or cremated?
  • Do you want a container for your cremated remains? If so, which container?
  • How will your remains be transported to the facility?
  • Do you want a ceremony for your funeral or burial service?
  • What details can you provide about your ideal funeral ceremony?
  • Do you plan to have pallbearers? If so, list the names of individuals you want included.
  • Do you want a grave marker?

Services That a Mortuary Provides

Some services are provided by a mortuary, and if you prepay for your service, they can include these with the cost. Some will retrieve the body from your home or hospital and store the body until it is ready for cremation or burial. Also, they can prepare your body for your funeral or cremation, and make all necessary funeral arrangements. Doing this may relieve the pressure from loved ones having to plan a funeral.

Create a Detailed Instruction for Family Members with Your Estate Planning Attorney

When drafting your plans for a funeral or burial, contact your estate planning attorney to ensure that you have covered all corners. Speak with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today to discover your options by calling 516-605-0625 or request an appointment online.

Sensitive Estate Planning Questions That You Must Address

Understanding and Caring Attorneys Assisting with Estate Planning in the Long Island Area

estate planning with the familyEstate planning tends to strike fear in some. After all, it is about planning the future after death. While that sounds morbid, it is a necessity if individuals want to protect their loved ones and their estate.

The process of estate planning is easy when you use an estate planning attorney. However, there may be questions that make you uncomfortable. These hard questions, however, are what will determine the efficiency of your estate plan and ensure that all aspects of your estate are considered.

Who Will Raise the Children?

If you have children under the age of 18, you must designate a guardian for them. The guardian is the individual who cares for your children. You will want to select a guardian who can raise your child with similar values that you and your spouse share. This person does not necessarily have to be a family member, but you want to select someone whom your children know and love.

How or When Do You Want to Die?

If you were to become incapacitated, would you want to be left on life support or would you like a loved one to authorize removal? These are questions you must answer, because without a directive or durable power of attorney, a family member may not be able to remove you from life support or leave you on life support if that was your wish.

By creating a power of attorney, you can remove the burden from loved ones, because your power of attorney dictates how and when for them.

Who Handles Your Digital Assets?

Digital assets are common in today’s society. You may have a social media account, online bank accounts, investment plans, and digital file storage. To ensure that all assets are included, tell your Long Island estate planning attorney about any digital assets you own. Also, designate who will be responsible for them and how you want to handle those digital assets.

Do you want your social media accounts left open or do you want them closed out?

You may want to consider setting up a trust that manages all assets, including digital assets.

Who Are You Missing?

Your estate plan should not leave out loved ones, but also should ensure that you do not accidentally include individuals whom you no longer wish to inherit your estate. For example, you have divorced, but you have not updated your estate plan to reflect your ex-spouse. Perhaps you had another child, but you did not add that child to your beneficiary list.

It is best to review your estate plan annually and any time you have a significant life change to ensure that everyone is included, and no one is forgotten.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney Today

To ensure you have the right estate plan drafted, and the tough questions are answered, contact an estate planning attorney. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can help. Schedule a free consultation at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

The Importance of Holding a Family Meeting to Discuss Your Estate Plan

New York Attorney Recommends Helping your Family Understand your Estate Plan via Family Meetings

family meeting You have family meetings to discuss important issues in the family, but have you had one about your estate plan or what happens to finances after you die? If you are like most consumers, you probably have not. No one wants to sit down with their loved ones and discuss mortality – or even suggest that there is a risk that your loved ones may be on his or her own someday.

Regardless of how hard it might seem, it is in your and your family’s best interest to discuss your wishes, as well as what you intend to put in your estate plan.

Have Your Attorney There

Have your estate planning attorney attend your family meeting. Here, he or she can answer questions that loved ones may have, discuss any legal issues, and even take notes about what is discussed to ensure that your estate plan is in line with what is discussed. It is helpful that family members meet your attorney, especially if he or she will work as your executor, too.

Pick a Convenient Time

Do not make this initial meeting an inconvenience. Instead, pick a date and time that works for everyone’s schedule. Then, select a meeting place that is centralized, so that no one should have to drive too far for the meeting.

Make a List

You need a list of every item that you want to cover during the meeting. This can include your burial/funeral wishes, inheritances, property, etc. You do not need to discuss specific finances, including values of the assets. Instead, you are discussing which heir receives what, rather than talking about how much in value he or she is inheriting. These meetings should only be for adults. If there are small children, see if you can arrange child care.

Expect Anxiety and Disagreements

Family members may be anxious about the meeting. Some may disagree with your choices, but you can hold your ground. You should, however, listen to their concerns and make sure that they are not bringing up any valid points that will make you reconsider beneficiary designations. If there is a dependent whom you do not feel is mature enough to receive an inheritance, now is the time to explain this to him or her.

The more upfront and honest that you are with loved ones now, the less confusion and contests that you are likely to encounter later on. If you plan to give part of your estate (or all) to charity, discuss this with family. That way, everyone knows which charity you want your estate gifted to and why, and witnesses are present for that decision.

Meet with a Long Island, NY Estate Planning Lawyer Today

If you are ready to start your estate plan, meet with an estate planning attorney in Long Island, New York. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you. Schedule your free consultation now at 516-605-0625 or contact us online and someone will be in touch with you shortly.

How Will Your Reverse Mortgage Affect Your Beneficiaries?

New York Estate Planning Attorney Explains Reverse Mortgages and the Effect they may have on Your Estate

torn up dollarYou have seen the commercials and heard the advice from financial planners. However, once you take out that reverse mortgage, what happens to your beneficiaries?

This is a critical question that anyone with, or those who may be considering, a reverse mortgage must ask. Not addressing this issue could leave your estate at risk, and your beneficiaries with nothing.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

For those who do not know, a reverse mortgage is something offered to seniors. It is supposed to help seniors by converting equity in their homes into cash. There are no monthly payments, and seniors can keep their home as long as they still pay property taxes and homeowners’ insurance premiums. To qualify, an owner must be 62 or older. Most who consider reverse mortgages do so for unexpected medical costs or because they must supplement their current retirement income (or lack thereof).

The Impact of Reverse Mortgages

When a person passes away with a reverse mortgage on the property, beneficiaries may have their inheritance threatened by lenders ready to collect on the mortgage due. Reverse mortgages are paid upon death, or if the individual moves/sells the home.

Under the federal regulation, surviving family members are supposed to receive an option from the loan servicer, which allows them to settle the loan for a percentage of the entire amount due. However, reverse mortgage companies are not following this regulation.

Instead, mortgage companies are threatening to foreclose on the property unless beneficiaries settle the mortgage in full, with no partial or discounted payments available. Some mortgage servicers may even move to foreclosure just weeks after the testator’s death – long before the estate makes it to probate court.

If there is a shortfall with the percentage settled by the family members, then the mortgage company receives the remaining payment through the federal insurance program. However, lenders have been skipping the middleman and demanding all money upfront from surviving family members. They also rarely inform family members of their right to pay a percentage.

Also, federal regulation requires the mortgage company to allow up to 30 days for heirs to decide how they want to handle the family property. Then, they are required to provide six months for family members to obtain financing. Most importantly, heirs are only required to pay 95 percent of the fair market value of the home – not the balance due. Therefore, lenders must hire an appraiser and value the home before collecting.

Protecting Your Loved Ones from Reverse Mortgages

If you do have a reverse mortgage or intend to get one, speak with an estate planning attorney in Long Island. An attorney can draft an estate plan that protects beneficiaries from the tactics used by mortgage companies to collect.

Schedule your consultation with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today by calling 516-605-0625 or you may request your consultation appointment online.

Essential Questions to Ask During Estate Planning for Blended Families

Experienced Attorney Helping Blended Families with Estate Planning in New York

blended family Blended families are quite common. Whether you are divorced and remarried, or you are a widower with a new family, it is important to understand how estate planning differs for your blended family than others.

Estate planning becomes complicated for blended families, which is why it is always best to consult with an attorney. While you might be tempted to file your documents using a DIY service online, keep in mind that these services lack the capacity to address complex issues for blended families.

The stakes are high – after all, you may have two sets of children to whom you need to leave assets. Also, the window for error increases with blended families. You also run the risk of former and current spouses disagreeing, or step- and half-children disagreeing with their inheritances.

These issues are important and should be discussed with your estate planning attorney. Before meeting, you should also ask yourself essential questions to ensure that you’re prepared for the hefty task.

What Questions Do I Need to Ask Myself?

Before meeting with your attorney, there are a few essential questions that you need to ask yourself and answer, including:

  1. What do you want to happen when you die? Do you want a funeral? Cremation? How will you provide family members funds to take care of your wishes?
  2. Who can make decisions for you? If you become incapacitated (from injury, illness, or mental decline), you must have a person in mind who will make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf. They do not have to be the same person, but you will need to designate someone responsible enough to handle mature decisions.
  3. Who takes over for minor children if you pass away? Will this be your current spouse or the children’s natural parent? Will the children get a say in which parent they want to live with?
  4. How will you provide for your current spouse? Think about how you want to provide for him or her financially. Would you give your spouse decision-making power over the estate’s assets? Or, do you feel that it is best to limit his or her management of the estate?
  5. Do you and your former spouse share the same ideals? You may need two separate attorneys to draft your estate plan for your current family, as well as your former spouse. This ensures that there is no conflict between the two agreements. Also, think about your willingness to discuss the estate plan with your former spouse. If you are not comfortable discussing it, you may need an attorney to help.

Take Your Answers to an Estate Planning Attorney

Now that you have answers to these essential questions, you must speak with an attorney. An attorney formalizes and structures your answers into a solid estate plan. You must work with an attorney who specializes in not only estate planning, but who has experience with blended families, as well.

While your blended family plan may cost more, it ensures that your current family and children from past marriages or relationships are all protected under the same document.

To get started, meet with an attorney by contacting the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. for your free consultation. Call 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Should You Implement a No-Contest Clause in Your Will?

Estate Planning Attorney Explains the No-Contest Clause in Wills per New York Laws

No-Contest ClauseIf you think that your beneficiaries will argue about your will, or that they may contest your will in court, there are ways to prevent disagreements among surviving family members. A no-contest clause in your estate plan may stop bickering among beneficiaries, and ensure that the family does not lose its connection due to disagreements over inheritance.

No-contest clauses ensure that anyone who raises a dispute ends up not receiving an inheritance. You may wonder how a no-contest clause applies if someone contests the will in court. It is best to speak with an estate planning attorney to explore your options, especially if you think that there is a high risk of someone contesting your will.

How a Will is Contested in New York

A will is designed to communicate your last wishes to loved ones. It also addresses the distribution of your assets. If you have created a living trust through your estate planning attorney, you may have assets in that trust that benefit you while you are living, and then the assets transfer to beneficiaries upon your death.

But, what happens if a beneficiary wants to contest your estate plan?

To contest a will, your beneficiary must file a legal complaint against your will’s validity. There must be grounds for contesting the will, other than just disagreeing with the terms. The individual must also have a financial interest in the estate, such as a family member or beneficiary.

There are specific grounds that a beneficiary or family member must address if the will is contested, including:

  • Focusing on the testator’s capacity. A beneficiary may feel that his or her loved one was not mentally capable of creating or consenting to a will; therefore, the will is not valid.
  • External forces influenced the testator, such as undue influence from an attorney, fraud, or duress from a family member.
  • Newer version of the estate plan. There may be a newer or updated version that was not filed with the courts; therefore, a family member may have that newer version in possession and wish to contest the version submitted to probate.

Family members may also challenge the validity of a trust, especially if they feel that the trust does not reflect their loved one’s wishes or if they believe that their loved one was forced to consent to that trust.

How a No-Contest Clause Works

These clauses may deter beneficiaries from fighting over an estate plan. If, however, there were true errors in the estate plan, family members could not contest it because they risk their inheritance. So, that is a big drawback to consider.

Not all states allow the use of a no-contest clause and some probate courts will not recognize them. New York does recognize the no-contest clause, and they are given full effect when a beneficiary challenges the will. In fact, the statute defines the no-contest clause as a method to prevent disposition from occurring. However, there are exceptions to the no-contest clause, and a probate court judge may accept a contest despite the clause’s presence in the will.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney in Long Island

Protect your loved ones from bickering over your estate by drafting a considerate and iron-clad estate plan. Working with an attorney increases the chances that your will is accepted by the courts, and may decrease the likelihood of a contest later.

Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today for a consultation by calling 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

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.

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