Your Wills & Trusts Should Require Your Children to Have Prenups

After you die there are way too many evil forces that can take a swipe at gifts to your children. Credit card companies may receive unpaid debts from your transfers to your children; the street level dope dealer may have his next good run with your child as his primary client; even the government may take much of the funds if your child becomes disabled. But for some reason, nothing annoys a parent more than knowing their soon-to-be-ex-son-in-law Chad is going to get a hold of your bequest to your daughter Becky (and now your son Bryce too, if that’s how he rolls, since greed has no sexual preference). All Wills and Trusts should have substance abuse provisions, spendthrift provisions

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Codicils and Trust Amendments May Burn Your Estate

Hiring an attorney has been obnoxiously expensive since the first time a guy’s donkey backing into another guy’s mud version of today’s tiny houses: You tend to want a person or document that best insures you are going to get things done your way, but good results cost a lot of money. So, it is not surprising that people prefer to change their Wills using Codicils and Trust Amendments instead of redrafting the entire original document. I have concluded this is often a mistake and now believe clients should spring for the costs of redrafting their entire document. Codicils are quick changes to existing Wills, and only modify the portions they are intended to change (and maintain the remaining contents

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Last Minutes Gifts and Transfers for 2018

Congratulations, you made it through Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanza, despite the fact you were seated next to your anti-vaxxer cousin who tried to explain to you in two syllable words how the earth actually is flat. All nieces and nephews have been given your gifts (likely a sweater instead of the cool toy they desperately needed to show off to fit in on the school bus), all dishes are cleaned, and all the leftovers have been thrown out unless you are a bachelor. BUT WAIT!! You haven’t wrapped up the Holidays until you make a complete drunken fool of yourself on Snapchat slurring Old Anzine (it’s pronounced “Auld Lang Syne” in Scotland for some reason) and have made the

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Bye Bye 24 Hour Caregivers for Aging New Yorkers

Many thanks to Michael LaMagna, Esq. of Riker Danzig and Evan Gilder of Redlig Financial Services for their initial article that prompted this blog. Caring for elderly family members is as exciting as spending your bachelorette party watching C-SPAN reruns (elected officials excluded, of course), so why not pay another person to help your aging Grandma or Dad feed, bath and toilet themselves? And while you are at it, why not have that person “live-in” with Grandma 24 hours a day but only pay the for 13 hours of that work at minimum wage? These were the rules permitted in New York for live-in caregivers, provided they had an 8-hour sleeping period and 3 meal breaks equaling one hour each.

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Should You Treat Your Kids Evenly in Your Estate Plan?

I believe you do not need to treat children equally in your estate plan, even if they are equally responsible, equally financially-empowered, and on good terms with you and one-another. Some parents follow differing distributive patterns under Sharia Law or other cultural edicts, others leave disparate amounts to children if one has several children of their own and the other child does not. In the end, the decision of how to bequeath one’s money is the client’s decision. I had one couple who decided to almost completely disinherit their daughter. She was an active opioid addict for several years, and they felt leaving her substantial money (even if utilizing a trust with a substance abuse provision that would limit her

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A Funeral Fit for a Queen / King: Aretha Franklin v. John McCain

At the risk of sounding disrespectful (as opposed to actually being disrespectful, which I can also be at times), please allow me to be honest: We have all been to festive and frightening weddings, jovial and pathetic birthdays, and good and bad funerals. But instead of me brooding over how I never received a meal at my sister’s wedding eight years ago, let’s focus on what really matters: The people who spoke up, and what they said. John McCain’s funeral hosted a well-groomed, thoroughly vetted procession of speakers, guests and attendees. His eulogy by his daughter was heartfelt and appropriate for an American hero. He was even clear about who should and should not attend his funeral (while President Trump’s

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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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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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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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