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How Safe is Your Employees’ Personal Information? Employers Must Take Immediate Action.

The IRS issued an alert on March 1, 2016 to payroll and HR professionals about a new phishing scheme involving W-2 information. Employers need to take immediate steps to confirm the security of their employees’ personal information.

The alert describes a scheme which has already claimed several victims. Payroll and human resources officers have mistakenly emailed payroll data including W-2 forms that contain social security numbers and other personally identifiable information to cyber criminals who posed as company executives.

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What it Means to be a Trustee – Part 1

Flattered to be named a trustee? Curious as to what it all means? Great, we will do a number of blog posts on the duties and powers of a trustee. This is the first such blog post.

Trusts are used for a multitude of purposes. Estate planning, charitable gifts, disability planning, tax reduction and avoidance of probate are but a few uses for trusts. Despite these different purposes, the trustee has similar duties derived from the trustee’s status as a fiduciary.

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What it means to be an Executor

This blog answers questions we frequently are asked by persons named as Executor in a decedent’s Last Will and Testament.

The decedent’s Will appoints me as executor.  What’s next?  Is my appointment automatic?

No.  You will be appointed executor by the Surrogate Court after the Will has been accepted for probate.  The Court will issue you “Letters Testamentary” which give you the authority to act on behalf of the estate.  The Court may deny you Letters notwithstanding that you are nominated in the decedent’s Will for reasons such as being a non-US citizen or a felon.

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Good and Bad News for Non-residents owing New York Real Estate

The New York Department of Taxation has issued two new tax advisory opinions that have a significant impact on taxpayers who are non-residents of New York State.

We have previously posted information for non-residents.  See Ryan Emery’s posts of April 21, 2015 and March 19, 2014.  This blog reports on very recent developments based on two advisory opinions issued by the New York Department of Taxation on May 15, 2015.

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Trusts and Wills: What if the document no longer fits the family situation?

A common complaint about the trust or will of a deceased ancestor is that the terms of the trust or will are not responsive to changed circumstances and events not contemplated at the time the instrument was signed. Trust beneficiaries may become disabled or improvident. Family members may develop conflicts. Tax laws may have radically changed. Unfortunately, upon the death of the ancestor, the trust and will become irrevocable. Notwithstanding, there are answers to certain of these post-death problems.

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GRATs are GRReat

A Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (“GRAT”) should be considered by wealthy individuals as part of a tax efficient gifting pro¬gram designed to minimize gift and estate taxes.

With a GRAT, a Grantor transfers property to an irrevocable trust. That trust makes annual payments of a specified amount back to the Grantor (hence the “Grantor Retained Annuity” name) for a specific term. When the term expires, whatever assets are left (the remainder) passes outright or to trusts for the Grantors beneficiaries.

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It’s Time To Reconsider IRA Beneficiaries

Have you named your children as beneficiaries of your IRA? Perhaps it is time to re-think that decision.

A recent United States Supreme Court ruling raises concerns about asset protection and the designation of IRA beneficiaries. In June the high court unanimously ruled that, under federal law, an IRA that is owned by a beneficiary is not protected in bankruptcy. The ruling does not affect the bankruptcy protection from creditor claims of an individual’s IRA. Rather, it exempts from bankruptcy protection any IRA that has been inherited. This means that IRAs that are transferred by an IRA beneficiary after the IRA owner’s death to an IRA in the beneficiary’s name could be lost to creditors’ claims if the beneficiary files for bankruptcy.

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How I Solved The Problem With Prenups

Today, parents’ delight at the announcement of their child’s engagement is often followed by concerns about the future success of the marriage. Given that almost 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce those concerns are well founded. Where there are substantial or just important family assets such as a business, vacation home, retirement fund or other accumulated wealth there is a heightened awareness of the emotional and financial costs of a failed marriage.

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