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Estate Planning – Much More Than Signing a Will

In the age of the internet, there is a growing trend amongst the American populace who decide they need a Will to avoid the cost of a lawyer and use a legal services website like Legal Zoom® or use some free Will form found on the internet. However, there are many dynamics that go into estate planning beyond executing a “simple” Will.   First, you may have family dynamics or complex assets such as a closely-held business that require something more than a “simple” Will.

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Federal And New York State Tax Advantages Of Long Term Care Insurance

If you have looked into purchasing long term care insurance, you know that it is an expensive proposition. However, there are some tax advantages related to the premium payments for long term care insurance.

If you are an employee and itemize your deductions you can deduct a portion of your long term care insurance premium as a medical expense on Schedule A of your 1040, itemized deductions.

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A Living Will is Not a Will (But No Less Important)

Lawyers are occasionally guilty of speaking legal jargon that a non-lawyer has no idea what the lawyer is talking about. For example, an estate planning lawyer (or perhaps an estate planning website you found) may suggest that you execute a living will in addition to a will, health care proxy and power of attorney. You probably already know that a will is but may have no idea what a living will is.

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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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Social Security, Medicaid Income And Resource Levels And The Regional Rates For Calculating A Penalty Period For 2016

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits did not increase for 2016, and remain the same as in 2015.

There is also no increase in the spousal impoverishment standards for 2016.  The community spouse Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) remains at $2,980.50.  This is the amount of monthly income a spouse who is in the community, whose spouse is institutionalized, may keep.

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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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Beneficiary Designation Forms: A Good Estate Plan Is Not Complete Without A Review Of These As Well

Now that you are finally getting around to having your Will prepared or updated, or even considering adding a Revocable Trust to your planning documents, it is also important to plan for those assets that are subject to a document commonly referred to as a beneficiary designation form.  Most commonly, my clients inquire: Doesn’t my Will take care of these assets as well?  The answer is “no.”  Although in some cases you may desire that those assets be directed to your estate so that they pass through your Will, or even a trust you have created, you must do something to make that happen.  That something is done through your beneficiary designation forms.  This is of the utmost importance because the assets that pass by beneficiary designation may very well comprise a large percentage of your total assets.

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What are my Duties as Agent on a Power of Attorney?

Your mom has appointed you as her agent on her power of attorney. Now what?

All powers of attorney signed on or after September 12, 2010, must be signed by the agent (you), acknowledging your appointment in order for you to act. The power of attorney document informs the agent (you) of your legal responsibilities: to act according to the principal’s instructions, or where there are no instructions, in the principal’s best interest; avoid conflicts that would impair your ability to act in the principal’s best interest; and keep records of your transactions as agent.

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