Blog of The Law Offices of Daniel Timins

Don’t Be So Sure Aretha Franklin Didn’t Have an Estate Plan…

Sadly, last week the Queen of Soul passed away with almost no hints beforehand that her death was imminent. And then, in yet another sensational example of Rock Stars behaving badly, the media rushed to declare that Aretha Franklin died without a Will, how irresponsible this was, how much money she must have had, and how a bunch of attorneys will now make millions off her estate. To reiterate my past-stated believes: Today’s mainstream media (not to mention non-mainstream media) is at best a conveyor of a little fact with a lot of opinion, and at worse completely full of ****. But stories about irresponsible celebrities sell in newspapers, tabloids, TV, radio, even in professional journals. I don’t believe it,

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Facebook After Your Death: Enter the “Legacy Contact”

  My Grandpa Joe died in 2012 at the age of 90, but before he passed he was able to figure out how to set up a Facebook account – no small feat for a man born before the invention of refrigerators, Ford’s Model T and frozen food. So, you can imagine my surprise when my Facebook account suggested I might want to “Friend” my grandfather in 2014. While Friending a deceased individual seemed novel, I sensed that continuing our actual relationship was one of the few things beyond Facebook’s ability to monitor. But while the law has slowly figured out that an Executor or Administrator of your estate is legally permitted to access your personal email and social media

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Guest Blog: Why you should place your home in a Trust

If you are a homeowner in your 50’s or older, you should transfer your real property into an Asset Protection Trust. Having your name on the deed (title) of the home exposes you to risk of lawsuits, creditors like Medicaid and other medical providers, and of course your heirs will have to deal with the costly and lengthy probate process after your death. If however, you place your home into an Irrevocable Asset Protection Trust, you are protecting your home and ensuring an easy and quick transition of the property to your children (or to whomever you designate) after your passing. When your name appears on a deed to a home, the property belongs to you. If you are involved

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Guest Blog: Doing Separate Finances Right (in Marriage)

Many couples today are managing their finances separately. They may be doing this because of dual income households, second marriages or relationships with children from a prior relationship. This arrangement may work well while the couple remains unmarried and as long as the relationship remains strong.  However, what happens if the couple gets married and then decides later to divorce? In New York, during marriage, all income earned and accumulated is deemed to be “marital property,” and as such, is subject to distribution in the event of divorce.  This is true even if the couple has been managing their finances separately – maintaining their own savings accounts; holding individual retirement and investment accounts; and keeping separate credit cards and other debt. As a family and divorce attorney,

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Guest Blog: The Most Powerful Legacy to Leave Your Heirs (Even If You’re Not Rich!)

When clients hear about my concentration in tax law, most of them offer a false belief that they don’t have enough assets to merit the services of a tax attorney.  While it’s true that the tax law often favors the mega-wealthy, the Internal Revenue Code is full of nifty (and perfectly legal) techniques the everyday family can use to maximize wealth.  Perhaps my favorite way for the common citizen to get ahead on both income taxes and even estate taxes is by optimizing retirement accounts. Retirement accounts come in all shapes and sizes, but in general, they can be put into two broad categories: inherited retirement accounts (IRAs) and non-IRAs.  The concept underlying both varieties is the same: the government

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Guest Blog: A History of our Border Crisis

The separation of children from their parents at our border has a long and nebulous history.  What makes the situation so confusing is that it doesn’t involve any single “law” so much as a series of interrelated laws, judicial decisions, and policy changes over twenty years or so concerning the admission and detention of asylum seekers at the U.S. border. The story begins in 1996 with the passage of the last major immigration law, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA, pronounced “Ira-Ira”), which created two sets of rules concerning the detention of those seeking asylum. The first set of rules governs the detention of so-called arriving aliens, non-citizens who present themselves at a U.S. port of entry.  If

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When More Money Actually Is More Problems

People let’s get over it: More money usually isn’t more problems. And if it happens to lead to more problems it is usually the kind of problems you want (I have never heard a man say that he wanted a slower Ferrari, or a woman complain that her gold and diamond tennis bracelet were too big, but I suppose it is possible). HOWEVER, there actually are a few circumstances where I can say that too much money actually does cause problems: Whenever a cliff tax is involved.   As a rule of nature, cliffs only effect people when they fall off of them, but many people face financial cliffs without knowing about them and, in the dark of night, fall

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Jerry Seinfeld Should Have Left His Royalties to a Trust

I have worked with some former authors and musicians who receive some form of royalties and “trailing income” from their past artistic works. Whether that occasional student of mid-20th Century Literature purchases a book from 1964 for his thesis, or CBS FM decides to play a song from 1982 (yes, the “Oldies” radio stations are now playing the songs you made out to in the backseat of your mom’s Dodge Minivan), someone somewhere is receiving a royalty payment. Copyrights, patents and trademarks tend to have long royalty periods (patents tend to vary the most), which you may think is good. However, the problem is that certain forms of intellectual property, such as copyrights, can continue for long after your passing,

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The ONLY 5 Times You Should Leave Your Will with Your Lawyer

Ah, lawyers. That smarmy, cash-grabbing group of wordy professionals who somehow legitimately charge you in 15-minute intervals for one text message. And if you thought their tricks ended when you are dead, you would be wrong: Attorneys even know how to ensure they wring out one last retainer after you expire. When a person has their Will done with an attorney it becomes an excuse for the lawyer to say, “After all your thought and money, don’t you think it makes sense for me to hold onto your Will in case your family can find it when you die?” What the attorney was NOT telling you is that when you do expire they get the first chance at charging your

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4 Reasons Your Online Will is Turdy

In the world of legal documents, sometimes having nothing is better than having something. If you pass away without a Will you would hardly be the first person – thousands of people die in the United States every day without having a Will – so there are default statutes that dictate how your estate shall be distributed. True, often times these default laws do not entirely fulfill your post-mortem desires, but they may be better than drafting a faulty document from an online web site, executing it incorrectly, or drafting in ambiguities that now require extra court interpretation (and attorney costs) when you do pass away. My advice: Work with an attorney to draft your Will, even if it’s a

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