You Don’t Really Want an Asset Protection Trust

I get a lot of calls from people asking if I can set up an Asset Protection Trust for them. These people usually owe taxes or child support, are contemplating divorce, have recently been the responsible party in an accident or injury to someone else, or anticipate their risky business practices will lead to lawsuits in the future. Despite what they may think, most people in these situations do not want their property owned by an Asset Protection Trust. Asset Protection Trusts are permitted and created in a handful of states (currently 16) such as Delaware, Nevada, Ohio, Alaska and Rhode Island. Trusts created in other states do not have the same level of protection. The idea is that you

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Thinking About Divorce? Sign Your Will First

Unless there is a prenuptial agreement stating your husband or wife gets nothing when you pass away, if you are married when you die your spouse often has several rights to your estate. Some states, such as New York, entitle your spouse to at least 1/3 of your gross estate even if you leave them nothing, and if you own property with them jointly they get all of that property when you die. And even worse, if you don’t do any estate planning your spouse may be the sole beneficiary of your estate. So if your marriage is failing I suggest that you fire the first shot at your partner and disinherit them before you file for divorce. For people

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Landlords: Beware of Old, Loner Tenants

New York landlords can have a lot of problems with older tenants. Not only do older tenants often have stabilized rents which leave the landlord with a 75% haircut on the rent they collect, older tenants also tend to call in more complaints against their landlords. And just to stick it to their landlord one last time, older tenants often make it impossible for the landlord to re-lease the apartment for months after their deaths. I know, crying for landlords is like crying for the football fan at the Superbowl because he is watching from a luxury box on the 40-yard line instead of the 50 yard line. And I am probably not going to earn a lot of street

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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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