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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 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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Implementing Local Legacy Simply

Anne Ruffer is Chair of the Community Foundation’s Professional Advisor Council.  She wrote this article for the winter edition of Smart Money, a publication of the Central New York Community Foundation, to give some guidance on incorporating charitable giving into estate plans.

In 2010, the Central New York Community Foundation commissioned a study on wealth transfer. It found that over the next decade, local individuals in our five-county region will determine the distribution of an unprecedented $22 billion after they pass away. The Community Foundation’s Professional Advisor Council has discussed ways to raise awareness and motivate our charitable community to retain part of this wealth transfer.

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Sweeping Changes to Claiming Social Security Benefits

The budget bill signed on November 2, 2015 by President Obama included sweeping changes in the claiming of Social Security benefits. The changes ended two major Social Security claiming strategies for married couples.

No more file and suspend or restricted application.

If you have not filed for social security benefits within 180 days of the bill’s passage on November 2, 2015 you will no longer be able to use the program’s “file and suspend” rule. This claiming strategy has permitted one member of a married couple to file for Social Security, thereby enabling a husband or wife to file for a spousal benefit. The spouse, meanwhile, could suspend his or her own retirement benefit, which then could grow due to delayed retirement credits by 8% a year.

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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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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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Protecting your Home from the Catastrophic Cost of Long Term Care

The average cost of a nursing home stay in the Central New York region is over $100,000 per year.  Many people want to make sure their home is protected if they ever need to be placed in a nursing home.

The home is protected if there is a surviving spouse or a disabled child living there, but with limited exceptions, if, for example, one spouse dies and the surviving spouse has to enter a nursing home, the house must be sold to pay for the nursing home before the individual can avail him or herself of Medicaid.

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