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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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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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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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Restriction On Valuation Discounts Forecasted – Gift Now

Employees at the U.S. Treasury Department have spoken publically about pending regulation changes that would significantly restrict the ability to take valuation discounts in certain circumstances. Many practitioners are recommending that their clients act now and make gift of appreciating assets to the next generation to avoid the implication of these proposed restrictions.

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Same Sex Marriage in New York after Obergefell v. Hodges: What Now?

There has been a tremendous sea change across the United States as it relates to same sex marriage, the majority of which has taken place almost entirely within the last decade. In the past three years alone, nearly two dozen states offered their residents some form of same sex union for the first time. On July 24, 2011, New York joined the ranks and passed the Marriage Equality Act, legalizing same sex marriage. It was the seventh state to do so.

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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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