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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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 You Can Do Now to Help Your Parents Apply for Medicaid

You may have heard it before: Someone’s elderly parent or grandparent breaks their hip or had a stroke or any one of the thousands of things that can happen to us when we start drinking Ensure for lunch, and now the family needs to apply for Medicaid for that person’s long term care needs. But the family members are having all types of trouble finding the necessary documents that Medicaid requires, such as marriage certificates, identification, proof of Social Security, tax returns, copies of all financial statements, the list is pretty lengthy. So, what can your parents do now to help you apply for Medicaid for them at some point in the future? 1.     Draft a Power of Attorney: Having a

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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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Angry Brothers Agree to Settle (Mom’s Estate)

You never know how close you are to your family until you have to share an inheritance with them. I am wrapping-up a case where my client’s mother died, leaving a Will that equally-distributed her real estate between her two somewhat-acrimonious sons. Usually this apartment would be sold, proceeds disbursed, and everyone would go their separate way. However, my client’s brother insisted that he could make them more money if he improved the real estate. His brother (my client) was not so hip on this idea – none of them had any real estate investing experience – but through sheer force, perseverance and presumption his brother had his own son move in (which he did – with a few kewl

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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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