Blog of The Law Offices of Daniel Timins

Living Alone, Then Dying at Home: Estate Issues Single People Face at Death

I had a client, let’s call her Frieda, who recently passed away in her home. In the 1950s Frieda came to New York from a small town the Midwest; by the time I met her she had no immediate family members still living. After a successful career as one of the first women working in the upper echelons of magazine advertising (she unequivocally confirmed all of the bad behavior in AMC’s “Mad Men” was true), Frieda had been living alone with her cat in her New York coop for several decades. Her last few days on Earth were not particularly pleasant, and her deceased husband’s extended family made sure that she could pass away at home in peace instead of

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Don’t Piss Off Your Trustee

A colleague of mine contacted me about a legal issue she was dealing with. Her client had created an irrevocable trust for tax minimization purposes, named his brother (a US citizen) and his sister-in-law (a Canadian citizen) as Co-Trustees, signed the Trust and transferred a life insurance policy to the Trust. For some reason, in the brief period between signing the trust and mailing it to the Co-Trustees, the client succeeded in royally pissing off his brother to the point of being told he would rather eat cold rice (in actuality, he was told something far less palatable) than serve as his trustee. Just to add to this problem, the client had already applied for a Tax ID Number for

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Dead Before His Time: Kobe Bryant and His Possible Estate

I remember being a college student when I first saw the future phenom of the Los Angeles Lakers play for the first time. He was 16 years old, grew up in Italy, seemed like a good kid, and his relentless drive to win was only equaled by his controlled contorting drives to the basket. I lived in Southern California when Kobe, Shaquille O’Neal, and a host of great supporting players won the Threepeat NBA championships of the 2000s. It was a well-known fact that Bryant’s Give-ME-The-Ball style of play, insistence on taking impossible shots and general separation from his colleagues made him incredibly unpopular with his teammates, but he sunk the big shots and the endorsements came pouring in. Kobe

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Some of the Many Reasons Estate Attorneys Should NOT Work with Citibank

While I have made sweeping generalizations that corporate trustees will take money from you faster than hitting after you draw 17 in Vegas, it’s pretty rare that I overtly criticize a particular financial institution in my blogs. But since I can’t hide my frustration anymore (and since proving libelous behavior requires a written statement to be untrue, which none of the following is) I feel it is time to send out a warning to my Estate Planning and Elder Law attorney colleagues: Do NOT work with Citibank, and tell your clients not to, for the following reasons: The Inmates Get the Keys to the Asylum: Citibank allows their desk clerks to review your legal documents and make their own assessment

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When “Transfer On Death” Accounts Go Bad

If you have ever had to deal with a complicated or contested Probate over a family member’s Will, you know that a lot of your problems would have been avoided if funds had instead been held in Transfer On Death [“TOD”] accounts: While Probating a Will requires a lot of court paperwork, time, and the cost of paying an attorney to help navigate through the proceeding, TOD accounts transfer as Operation of Law assets, meaning all the beneficiary of the account has to do is show up with an original death certificate. But sometimes TOD accounts are not properly set up, cause confusion or secrecy where none was desired, or end up being transferred to people you don’t want them

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Your Inherited IRA Just Got Nerfed

Every few years the federal government passes last-minute legislation that totally messes up your estate plan. On December 20, 2019 President Trump signed Congress’s “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019” into law. On top of the fact the government paid a 12 year old to sell the rights to his treehouse password in order to create a nitwitty acronym, the “SECURE Act” makes radical changes to how your post-mortem beneficiaries receive your retirement plans that might actually make you feel less secure. When your parent, family or friend dies and leaves you their IRA account you use to receive an “Inherited IRA”, meaning the original owner’s name remained on the account, but the account was change

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A Legal Magic Trick: Revoking Irrevocable Trusts

The world changes, and so does our family, friends and charitable organizations. And we do too: We start to care more about relationships than money, health instead of inebriation, and sometimes come to an understanding with those people we disagree with. However, estate planning benefits do not always lend themselves to changed circumstances, so if you want creditor protection, government benefits, estate tax savings or the ability to control your family’s inheritance “from the grave” you usually need an irrevocable trust, I.e. one you cannot change even if you desperately need to change the documents. When you create certain irrevocable trusts, you cannot modify them. These trusts are (typically) either the trustee or the beneficiary but never both; you may

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Getting Divorced? Leave Children’s Life Insurance to a Trust

As a member of the First Spouse Turned Demogorgon Club, I can tell you with hindsight that divorce can be a wonderful thing: No more arguments, no more awkward Thanksgivings with creepy in-laws, no more washing the dishes during prime football hours. But at the same time, divorce is almost never positive during the initial process, self-doubt and anger consumes you, and (ultimately) you will have to deal with financial matters, particularly if you have minor children. And when child support or maintenance is in the picture, your former best friend is going to want to make sure that cool hard cash is still there if you pass away during the payment period. So, purchasing life insurance to cover your

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