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New York State Temporarily Permits Virtual Will Signings

We hope you and your families are safe and healthy in these tumultuous times. In our prior newsletters we described the documents that comprise a basic estate plan. To refresh your recollection, a medical proxy appoints a person to make medical decisions if one is incapacitated. A living will sets forth one’s directives regarding ongoing medical and ventilator treatment. A power of attorney empowers someone to

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Ancillary Estate Planning Documents

We have spent a considerable amount of time discussing wills and bequests. However, there are other documents that are also critically important. The first is called a medical proxy. A medical proxy, otherwise known as a health care proxy is a document that allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself. If you are

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New Tax Legislation Impacts Your Retirement Planning

In this month’s edition we will discuss a recent change in the law. On December 19, 2019, the SECURE (“Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement”) Act became law. The legislation contains a lengthy series of provisions impacting retirement plans and their participants. Two of these changes are especially significant: REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS When you contribute funds to a retirement or pension plan such as an

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What’s In a Name?

Drafting your will requires you to think carefully about who you would appoint to handle important duties on your behalf once you have passed away. These persons are called fiduciaries and if they accept the position you have assigned them they hold a duty to the people over whom you have appointed them to act. It is also important to select successor fiduciaries who would assume

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What If?

Estate planners are in the business of “what ifs.” We need to make sure that your Will covers all the possible circumstances that might arise in your life. Generally speaking, if you are married and have children you have more “what if” scenarios to be concerned about than if you are single with no children. Let me explain by use of an example. Let’s say Tarzan

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You Can’t Take it With You

Last time we discussed the various types of Wills. Let’s discuss in greater detail what they contain and why they are so important. Let’s start with the disposition of assets. The old adage is true. You simply can’t take it with you. That means you have to choose to whom to leave “it.” “It,” means everything you own at death including your personal possessions and your

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Wills vs. Revocable Trusts

You probably already know what a Will is. Wills are often dramatized on television and in movies. We always see someone drafting a Will under harrowing experiences, like in a fox hole in war or on their death bed. Then, of course, there’s always the dramatic reading of the Will before the surviving family members. I always found those to be awkward scenes. Perhaps it’s because,

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A Guide for the Journey

A common mistake one can make in crafting an estate plan is adopting a “Do it Yourself” strategy. Building an estate plan is not like building a table. You can’t just Google how to do it, walk into your local hardware store, buy some lumber and start sawing away. Tax laws are complicated and as we just discussed, they change all the time. You need a

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Make Sure to Designate Beneficiaries

Some people make the unfortunate mistake of preparing a comprehensive estate plan but forgetting that not all of their assets will be governed by the dispositive provisions in their will or revocable trust. For example, if real estate is co-owned with other people, the way the property is titled will govern who inherits the property upon death. For example, a house owned by husband and wife

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Keep Your Original Will Safe and Locatable

Most states require that an original signed and witnessed will be produced to the court for probate. Duplicate copies are most often not accepted. Courts are extremely cautious and the general legal assumption is that if you cannot produce an original will it is because the decedent (otherwise known as a “Testator”) destroyed it with the intention that it not be probated. There are some exceptions

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