Estate Planning

Our attorneys understand and address the private and significant personal and family issues that are involved in estate planning and administration. We strive to help clients preserve personal wealth and plan for and implement its transfer in a manner that achieves the personal objectives of the client, while minimizing related tax related costs and undesirable delay and expense.

We provide:

  • Estate planning.
  • Estate administration.
  • Estate litigation.

How We Can Help

Our attorneys create and assist in:

  • The review, drafting and implementation of estate documents and plans.
  • Counseling clients on the best methods to pass monies on to the next generation in the most tax efficient and economic manner possible.
  • The administration of estates and trusts, including the handling of probate and other judicial proceedings.
  • The resolution or litigation of disputes regarding: wills, trusts or estates, including probate challenges, contested accountings, contested guardianships and other litigation, as required.
  • Providing estate, gift, generation-skipping transfer and fiduciary income tax and other advice to fiduciaries or to individuals who have interests in trusts or estates.

Our Services Include

  • Preparation of wills and trusts, living wills and powers of attorney.
  • Living wills, healthcare proxies and powers of attorney.
  • Establishment of guardianships and conservatorships.
  • Charitable giving tax planning.
  • Preparation of fiduciary income tax returns and estate tax returns.
  • Probate and trust and estate administration.
  • Estate challenges and contests.
  • Formation and operation of limited liability companies.
  • Preparing pre-marital and post-marital agreements.
  • Preparing buy-sell agreements for business owners.

We help clients understand and accomplish what is necessary for keeping assets in the family, despite the death or disability of family members, or the impact of the ever changing tax laws.

Please contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to review your estate planning or related concerns.

FAQ

  • Does a Will avoid probate?

    No, a Will does not avoid probate. Probate is the process of having the court review your Will, approve your selection of an Executor, and overseeing the distribution of your property.

  • How can I plan to reduce my estate tax?

    The most basic plan you can put into place to reduce estate tax is to adopt a Credit Shelter Trust or Bypass Trust Plan. Simply stated, this plan creates a Credit Shelter Trust, also known as a Bypass Trust, in each spouse’s will, to utilize that spouse’s full exemption amount. The surviving spouse has access to the funds in the trust, yet the trust funds are not included in the surviving spouse’s estate on his or her death. For individuals with larger estates, there are many more tax planning opportunities available that we would be happy to discuss with you when you come in for a consultation.

  • How much can I gift to my children without having to pay gift tax?

    You can make annual gifts to your children and other beneficiaries of $14,000 per individual, without having to file a gift tax return or pay gift tax. This means that a married couple can gift $28,000 to each child and grandchild, annually. You may gift more than $14,000 to an individual, but you will not have to pay gift tax until you have exceeded your lifetime exemption amount. The federal gift, estate and generation skipping transfer tax exemptions are set at $5,000,000, indexed for inflation. For 2015 the inflation adjusted exemption amount is $5,430,000 per individual. This means that a couple can pass wealth of $10,860,000 over their lifetime to their heirs free of federal gift and estate tax in 2015.

  • What does a Will do?

    A Will allows you to decide who is to receive your property when you die, and how much each person is to receive. Your will appoints an Executor, who will oversee everything and distribute your property to the individuals you have named.

  • What happens if I die without a Will?

    If you die without a Will, your property will be distributed to your heirs according to New York intestacy law. If you have a spouse and children, your spouse will receive $50,000 plus one-half of your property and your children will receive the other one-half of your property.

  • What is a Disposition of Remains Appointment?

    A Disposition of Remains Appointment is a legal document that appoints another individual to make funeral and burial arrangements for you, and contains your wishes with regard to such arrangements.

  • What is a Health Care Proxy?

    A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that appoints another individual to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself. This document may be combined with a Living Will, which contains your wishes with regard to end of life care.

  • What is a Power of Attorney?

    A Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints another individual, called your agent, to handle your financial and other matters for you when you are unable to handle them yourself.

  • What is a Revocable Living Trust?

    A Revocable Living Trust is a trust that you establish during your lifetime. You are the trustee and beneficiary of your own Revocable Living Trust. The primary reason for establishing a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid probate.

  • What is a trust?

    A trust is an agreement between you and another individual, called the trustee. The trustee holds the property, manages the property, and makes distributions to the individuals named in the trust, also called the beneficiaries. You can be the trustee and beneficiary of your own trust, or you can name other individuals to be the trustee and beneficiary.

  • Will there be an estate tax when I die?

    An estate tax or “death tax” will depends on the size of your gross estate and year of death. A filing is required for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $5,430,000 in 2015, with a maximum tax rate of 40%. In 2015, New York State imposes an estate tax on estates worth over $3,125,000, with a maximum tax rate of 16%. If your estate is close to these asset thresholds, Estate Tax Planning may help to reduce, or even eliminate, the tax due upon your death.