Estate and Elder Law

    • 3 Mar 2015

    Ask Liza: Capital Gains Taxes on Appreciated Property

    Dear Liza: My mother gave her house to my sister just before she passed away. My sister is going to sell the house. Do we have to pay taxes on that? If your mother’s house had appreciated in value between the time your mother purchased it, and her death, then the answer is yes. I can’t answer even a fraction of the questions that people send to me, so I try to pick ones that I think will have value to many...
    • 3 Mar 2015

    Dedon on Estate Planning: Pets and Estate Planning

    Bella - A Tribute | Anyone who has not felt the sadness and loss from the death of a pet either has never owned a pet or is devoid of humanity. My three pound Yorkie, Bella (technically, my daughter's dog, but you know how that works), had neurological issues that affected her ability to see and walk from birth. But Bella had a happy and spoiled life until she succumbed to organ failure at nine years old. Her perseverance...
    • 3 Mar 2015

    David Shulman on Estate Planning: Facebook Allows Users to Designate a ‘Legacy Contact’ to Manage Their Account After Death

    Finally. For those who have been following, the issue of “digital assets” is a fast developing problem in the estate planning world. Putting aside for a moment who has the right to “inherit” your assets, the bigger problem with estate planning attorneys is who has access to certain assets and online accounts when you die. Take for example, your Facebook account. Think of all of the information...
    • 27 Feb 2015

    Ask Liza: How To Store That Estate Plan

    Dear Liza: I’ve just completed my estate planning documents using the latest edition of WillMaker Plus, including the will, health care documents, power of attorney, final arrangements, etc. I think all totaled it comes to over 65 pages. I’d like to leave all the documents well-organized so they’re not just a pile of papers that would overwhelm the executor. I’d like to put the documents in a three...
    • 27 Feb 2015

    Ask Liza: Is A Survivors Trust A Necessary Part Of A Trust?

    Dear Liza: My parents have a revocable Trust that is very outdated and we want to make amendments to it. I understand most of the Trust but am having trouble with the Survivors Trust. I was surprised to see that upon the death of one spouse a Survivors Trust may be established. Is this really a necessary part of a Trust. Isn’t being the Co Trustee basically the same thing? A Survivor’s Trust is often created...
    • 27 Feb 2015

    Ask Liza: Do I Need a Special Needs Trust for a Son on SSDI?

    Dear Liza: I have an adult son who is developmentally disabled. He is able to work and receives Social Security Disability Insurance as well as Medicare. Does he need a Special Needs Trust? I love it when someone asks me a question with a clear answer! Here, the answer is probably not. Your son receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a benefit that he receives because he was able to work and...
    • 27 Feb 2015

    Dedon On Estate Planning: Failure To Plan Has A Price

    “I never worry about action, but only about inaction.” Winston Churchill “I haven’t decided what I ultimately want to do with my business, or when I want to exit, or how much money I’ll need, or whom to sell to, so how can I plan my exit? Besides, I don’t want to exit right now.” If you’ve said this, or thought it, you are not alone. Many business owners are either...
    • 27 Feb 2015

    Dedon On Estate Planning: 2015 Exemption - $5,430,000

    The IRS announced inflation adjustment tax items for 2015. Of interest on the estate and gift side, the annual exclusion remains at $14,000. However, the exclusion amount for taxpayers dying in 2015 increased from $5,340,000 to $5,430,000. Thus, a married couple can protect $10,860,000 from federal estate tax. With Republicans capturing both houses of Congress, it remains likely that the exemption amount will remain at...
    • 26 Feb 2015

    Ask Liza: Avoiding a Lump Sum Inheritance

    Dear Liza My father wants to leave some of his assets to my brother and sister, however neither of them is particularly adept at handling money and he doesn’t want to hand them a large, lump sum. Can a Will stipulate that they receive payments on a predetermined basis, almost like an allowance? If not, can this be accomplished through another vehicle? Your father isn’t the only parent worried about leaving...
    • 26 Feb 2015

    Ask Liza: What to Do When One Parent Lacks Capacity

    Dear Liza, my parents do not have a living trust in place. I need to help them set one up. My father and mother are 91 and 83 respectively. My father has a form of dementia that prevents him from making decision about his property. My Mother is fully capable. Does my Mother have the right to make decisions about a living trust for both of them? Does my father have to sign anything? I’m sorry that your father is...
    • 26 Feb 2015

    Ask Liza: Can the Executor Give Away Estate Assets?

    Dear Liza: My husband is the sole executor (and only child) of his mother’s Will. There are no other beneficiaries listed in her Will. The only asset she had was a home which is valued at about $300,000. Does he need to probate her Will? As the executor can he sell the home to one of our children for $1.00? Whether or not your husband has to probate the Will depends upon your state’s small estates limit ....
    • 12 Jan 2015

    Tangible Personal Property: What Does it Encompass?

    By Jennifer F. Hillman The phrase “tangible personal property” is a term of art frequently utilized by estate practitioners when drafting documents. However, what is, and what is not tangible personal property is not always clear. A recent case, In re Rothschild , N.Y.L.J., October 28, 2014, at 22 (Sur. Ct Bronx County) looked at precisely this issue in the context of a collection of stamps and coins. ...
    • 10 Nov 2014

    Ask Liza: Disinheriting a Child

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: My husband and I both have a will that states we are each other’s beneficiaries and executor’s and our son as 100% beneficiary of both of us died,. My husband has a daughter by a previous marriage. If my husband dies before me does she have rights to our assets? I often tell my clients the sad irony of estate planning: You can pretty much do whatever you want to do, you just...
    • 5 Nov 2014

    John Dedon On Estate Planning: 1031 Exchanges And End Of Year Planning

    My partner, David Lawrence, is an expert on Section 1031 tax-free exchanges involving investment real estate. His thoughts regarding end of year planning and the advantages of 1031s is below. Tax Straddling When Selling Investment Property Between now and the end of the year, taxpayers can legally avoid paying tax for an entire year on sales of investment real estate. How? Just start a 1031 like-kind exchange...
    • 5 Nov 2014

    John Dedon On Estate Planning: Is It R.I.P. For IRAs?

    In an October online article in The Wall Street Journal , the reporter described how Congress is examining large IRAs, and IRAs holding real estate and closely held business interests. Congress’ concern is that IRA income tax advantages are being used by the wealthy in ways beyond that contemplated by the original legislation. Traditional IRAs grow tax-free, with no distribution requirements until an individual...
    • 5 Nov 2014

    John Dedon On Estate Planning: Planning Not Just For The ‘Very Wealthy’

    Russ Alan Prince, for Forbes, published an article on October 13, titled "The Very Wealthy Embrace Severe Disaster Contingency Planning." The article outlined how today, "the exceptionally wealthy [are] vulnerable to geopolitical instability, market volatility, career criminals, and even unscrupulous associates." According to the article, how do the wealthy protect themselves? With a team of elite...
    • 5 Nov 2014

    Ask Liza: Creditor’s Claims and Trust Administration

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: I am the successor trustee of my parents trust. The have both passed and I was told before I disburse the assets I need to advertise a Notice to Creditors. How long and how many times do I need to advertise? Since I don’t know which state you live in, I can only provide you with a very general answer. In most states, although not California, where I live and practice, if you...
    • 5 Nov 2014

    Ask Liza: Your Living Trust Can Hold An S Corporation

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: My son and I own an S corporation. Can an S corp be put into a trust? If not how would an S corp be put into a trust? Yes! You can put your S corporation into your living trust by transferring your ownership of your shares to yourself, as Trustee of your living trust. As you know (but not all of my readers will), an S Corporation is a special kind of corporation, limited to 100 shareholders...
    • 5 Nov 2014

    Ask Liza: The Right Plan For Now: Living Trust

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza, I’m a young professional and would greatly appreciate your feedback on what type of trust, if any, would suit me well given my current financial and life position. I’m single, 29 years old (30 later this year), with cash, stocks, and a stake in a high-growth company. My goal is to protect my assets while maintaining control and flexibility over their allocation / disbursement...
    • 30 Sep 2014

    Ask Liza: Naming a Minor as a Beneficiary of an IRA

    By Liza Weiman Hanks | Dear Liza: I want to name my minor grandchildren as beneficiaries of my IRA account. How do I do that? Can I use my Will? It’s a smart idea to name minors as beneficiaries of your IRAs. Since they are young, they’ll be able to withdraw that money slowly over their life expectancy, and only pay taxes on the amounts withdrawn. But you are also correct in understanding that minors need...
    • 26 Sep 2014

    Ask Liza: Getting Good Advice When You Are The Beneficiary

    By Liza Weiman Hanks Dear Liza: After dealing with an unexpected death of my spouse my head is still spinning.. My spouse was very private after a divorce and we kept our affairs separate. Now the Will, of which I was unaware, allows me to stay in our home and if I choose to leave or pass it goes to her children. The attorney who handled the will said I have control of what happens; 1) I can stay in house till death...
    • 25 Aug 2014

    David Shulman: Gizmodo Gets Everything About the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Wrong

    By David Shulman As I’ve written recently , the Uniform Law Commission approved the Uniform Fidicuary Access to Digital Assets Act. The act can be found on the Committee’s website , along with supplemental material, such as prior drafts, comments, and issues memorandum. A direct link to the final approved Uniform Act, with a prefatory note and comments can be found here . The Uniform Act I was appointed...
    • 7 Aug 2014

    Ask Liza: Estate Planning Beats Avoidance

    By Liza Weiman Hanks | Dear Liza: We live in Nebraska. I own a ranch with my brother. Part of it we inherited and a small part we purchased from family members. The total value of the ranch is $2.7 million. We have a buy sell agreement between us. We have estate questions and aren’t sure where to go. We each have other assets of approximately $2 million and $4 million respectively. We have considered a trust;...
    • 11 Jul 2014

    David Shulman on Estate Planning: Finding Your Digital Assets After Death

    by David Shulman I’ve written before about estate planning for your digital assets and online accounts. Well this article isn’t necessarily about planning , but what happens after you die – especially if you don’t plan (or even if you do). I do both estate planning and probate and trust administration. That means not only do we help people plan while they are alive, we help their relatives after...
    • 11 Jul 2014

    John Dedon on Estate Planning – Staying Current

    Attached below is a July 3, 2014 Forbes article detailing the need for clients to review and update their estate plans. Now that I have been in practice for 30 years, approximately 25 percent of the legal work that I do comes from existing clients updating their estate plans for various reasons. Why You Should Update Your Estate Plan There is a sense of accomplishment when an estate plan is executed. In fact, it’s...