Leaving the Right Gift to the Right Person

I meet several clients who, upon death, want to automatically give their daughters their jewelry and split their remaining property equally between their children. This is also the default position suggested by general practitioner attorneys who will draft a two page Will for their lifetime client, and avoid the consultation time needed to truly understand their client’s desires. My experience suggests that serious consideration must be given to distributing the correct amount of property, and the right type of property,  to each beneficiary. Most people leave property first to their spouse, then to their children equally – they have equated equally loving their children with bequeathing them equal amounts of property. It goes without saying that even in “healthy” families this may not be

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Asking Your Attorney About “Wise” Investments

Attorneys have a reputation for “killing” more deals than they enable. In my experience this is a true statement: Several clients make haphazard investment decisions, such as signing contracts with “silent partners,” getting involved with high risk investments (my least-favorite: forwarding money for an independent film), or getting their feet wet with a new sure-thing-get-rich-quick scheme (i.e. flipping a home or entry into the rental real estate market). Several attorneys can share horror stories of clients break their backs and banks on these ventures. But the question that should arise is often overlooked by the client: Does the attorney actually have any qualifications or experience to condone or dismiss the investment cost? By their nature, most lawyers are good with

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Handling the Empty Nest: Securing the Recently Departed Loved One’s House

When a person passes away there are several matters to take care of, the FIRST of which is securing the premises. One of my biggest concerns is the possible “Dash and Grab” that dishonest (needy?) family members perform when they hear of the recently departed family member and run to strip the house of assets with financial or sentimental value. And, as much as I hate to use stale idioms, “Possession IS 9/10ths of the law.” Here are steps you can take to secure a family member’s personal belongings upon their passing: CHANGE THE LOCKS: If the house was owned by the decedent, consider doing this to protect the property inside. CANCEL CREDIT CARDS / FREEZE BANK ACCOUNTS: Supplying a

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How to (and Should I?) Place My Cooperative Apartment in a Trust

Buying (and living in) a Coop can be a pain: Coop Boards dictate whether you can have pets, children tenants, hard wood floors, and when you pay increased maintenance and “special assessments.” They also decide whether or not you can place your Coop “In Trust,” thereby avoiding it passing through Probate via your Will when you pass away. First, the Coop’s legal counsel will want to review your Trust, often for about the cost you paid to draft it. They may require modifications and ask your beneficiaries to assume any future liabilities that may be assessed. You will then need to transfer the Coop shares for an additional cost, and produce your original Shares Certificate and Proprietary Lease (or otherwise

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