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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. Continue reading “What it means to be an Executor”

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. Continue reading “Beneficiary Designation Forms: A Good Estate Plan Is Not Complete Without A Review Of These As Well”

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. Continue reading “Restriction On Valuation Discounts Forecasted – Gift Now”

It’s That Time of Year Again

What’s on your list of New Year’s resolutions?  No doubt a resolution to create or review your estate plan is not at the top of your list.  But estate planning is as important as resolutions to lose weight, spend time with family or be more frugal. Continue reading “It’s That Time of Year Again”

Top Ten Reasons to have a Will

While none of us like to contemplate our mortality, it is vital to plan for what happens to your assets when you pass away.  Not only does a will allow you to distribute your assets according to your wishes, it can legally protect your family and save your family time and money.

Here are the top ten reasons to have a will:

  1. You dictate how your assets will be distributed.  Your will is revocable as long as you are alive.  Once you die it become irrevocable and your heirs must follow your wishes.  If you die without a will in New York, New York State law, not you, will dictate how your assets will be distributed.  If you do not have a plan, New York State has a plan for you. Continue reading “Top Ten Reasons to have a Will”

New York’s Recent Estate Tax Law Changes – What is Estate Tax Anyway?

You may have heard that New Yorkers may be subject to an estate tax depending on the value of their estate when they die. You may also have heard some buzz about recent changes to New York’s estate tax law that sounds favorable to New Yorkers…favorable meaning less tax owed.

What is an estate tax? An estate tax is a tax on the transfer of assets after you die based upon the value of those assets. An estate tax is separate and distinct from income tax. It is, in a sense, a transfer tax. An estate tax will likely include some property on which you have already paid income tax. Moreover, an estate tax is assessed against you (or more accurately, your estate) once you are no longer with us.

Continue reading “New York’s Recent Estate Tax Law Changes – What is Estate Tax Anyway?”