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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What is a Fair Executor Commission?

When we used to go out to dinner with my grandfather, he would always put some of his food on my plate. It wasn’t that it was cold or not tasty (though his love affair with tripe was engaged in by him and him alone), the thing was that it wasn’t what I had expected, the food that was placed on my plate was not always the part I would have preferred, and it always got entangled with my own eating affairs (I.e. the mash potatoes). Eating other people’s leftovers is often an unsavory task, but it can be about 1 gazillion times more palatable than having to deal with another person’s estate. Sometimes the deceased person was a hoarder

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Is There Any Reason NOT to Do a Medicaid Trust in New York?!?!

Many aging individuals appreciate how much work they have done through their lives, how much risk they took, and how they were somehow able to save up enough money to live in retirement for over 20 years. Then, without warning, they have a stroke, or a fall, or are diagnosed with dementia, and it becomes clear to them that their aging health issues can erase their entire net worth in a mere few years. The family then finds out that receiving home care Medicaid is pretty easy, but to protect family assets from Medicaid nursing home care benefits requires you to be indigent for at least 5 years. And (unfortunately by predictably) the family home was never transferred or properly

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The Many Risks of “Deathbed” Estate Planning

I can appreciate that planning for your own demise years before your death is not as exciting as planning your next K-Pop karaoke face-off (or any other activity imaginable for that matter). Yet many people fear death so much during their healthy and convalescing periods that they take no estate planning actions whatsoever in the hopes that ignoring this 12,000 pound gorilla will make it just go away. It doesn’t, so many estate planners are – frankly too often – called in during a new client’s final living days to draft their Will, create and fund trusts, or update beneficiary designation forms. These last-ditch “Deathbed” Will signings do not achieve their desired end result an inordinately-high amount of the time

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Why Jeffrey Epstein’s Trust Only Adds to the Murder Conspiracy

While America’s criminal justice system does not judge people to be guilty until proven guilty (even though it has no compunction with adjudicating innocent people as being guilty), Jeffrey Epstein sure does look like a bad, bad dude. The “Pimp of the Rich and Famous” would have been charged with human trafficking, statutory rape, prostitution, and likely many more demented crimes which thinking of would cause most decent people to throw up in their mouth a little bit. His trial and any plea bargain could have been an enormous bombshell that would have ruined at least a few people with HUGE shoes to fill. It was in this context that Jeffrey Epstein somehow hung himself from a five-foot high bunkbed

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Damian Hurley: Why Minimizing Estate Taxes is Not Always a Good Thing

For decades estate attorneys have been driven by a prime directive, a primary motivating cause that overcomes all other client desires: Minimizing estate taxes. I believe this is a huge mistake, and a recent court decision highlighted by a stern millionaire patriarch, celebrities, a free-living playboy, and an irrevocable trust shows us why. Today it takes a decent amount of money ($11.4 million or more) to face a federal estate tax when you die, and there are also certain irrevocable trusts, including GRATs and GRUTs, that further minimize or eliminate estate taxes. So, for many of us this article is not relevant, but for those who it is, it should come as no surprise that estate attorneys have traditionally focused

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Wills: What Do Executors Get Paid in New York?

When your Will is probated your Executor is entitled to receive a commission for their work. And while you can define what that commission is in your Will, most people choose New York’s statutory guideline for that commission (the concern is that if the fee is too low no one will want to be Executor, since you can’t force someone to do the job). In New York, that statute is created by the Surrogate’s Court Procedures Act, Section 2307, and it has a lot of juicy details that differentiate it from other state’s more-streamlined statutory commissions: Keep in mind that any assets which pass through a living trust, a joint account, or assets passing by “operation of law” (such as

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Fifteen Common Mistakes – Probate

In February 2019, Dan was privileged enough to contribute a video course for Lawline.com about “Fifteen Common Mistakes, and Simple Suggestions to Avoid Them, for a Future Smooth Probate.” The video is an overview of the fifteen most common mistakes made when estate planning. He will walk through all the potential obstacles an attorney may face if he or she is familiar with drafting wills, but has not yet experienced many of the nuances associated with probate. Topics to be discussed include revoking past wills, fixing mistakes after a will has been executed, general bequests, naming beneficiaries, survivorship provisions, and more. To watch the entire video presentation, please click here. Or below are three clips from the presentation. Importance of

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An In-Depth Look at Trusts

In February 2019, Dan was privileged enough to contribute a video course for Lawline.com about “An In-Depth Look at Trusts: Answers to Your Most Commonly Asked Questions” The video is about how Trusts are now the primary way to manage the complexities of government benefits, creditor issues, taxes, and beneficiary protections. Trusts allow us to preserve family assets and do so without court oversight. But what kind of trusts are appropriate in which circumstances? How do we properly title trust accounts and beneficiaries designation forms? And how do we maximize tax deferral, creditor protection, and Medicaid-using trusts? This program, presented by estate planning attorney Daniel Timins, will answer all these questions and more. Additional topics to be discussed include testamentary

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