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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Unsigned Wills Are Meaningless (and Photocopies are Not Much Better)

I like to remind people that the laws regarding modern U.S. Wills, not only predate the founding of the U.S., but actually predate European discovery of the Western Hemisphere. In Olde England in the city of York having a signed, witnessed piece of paper instructing how you wanted your property to be distributed after your death was often the only way to ensure your desires were fulfilled. Original paper mattered back then – there were no other recording devices or accounts with beneficiary designations – and witnesses would later attest to the fact they had seen you sign said paper instead of someone else. And original, signed paper still matters for several legal documents today, including your Will. The issue

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Requiem for Stan Lee: Superhero of the Superheroes

As a former collector of Bronze-Age Marvel comic books, I was sad to hear of the passing of Stan Lee. As the creator or co-creator of so many comic book characters – the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, Iron Man, the Avengers, the Uncanny X-Men, Doctor Strange, the list goes on – Lee is one of the most meaningful entertainment influencers of our era. True, Lee owed a great debt to his prolific co-creators (and arguably more talented artists), such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, but even though Lee’s style often promoted himself instead of Marvel and anyone else that made Marvel Comics the cultural juggernaut it has become, everyone from once-teenage comic collectors, to Disney executives

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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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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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Don’t Be So Sure Aretha Franklin Didn’t Have an Estate Plan…

Sadly, last week the Queen of Soul passed away with almost no hints beforehand that her death was imminent. And then, in yet another sensational example of Rock Stars behaving badly, the media rushed to declare that Aretha Franklin died without a Will, how irresponsible this was, how much money she must have had, and how a bunch of attorneys will now make millions off her estate. To reiterate my past-stated believes: Today’s mainstream media (not to mention non-mainstream media) is at best a conveyor of a little fact with a lot of opinion, and at worse completely full of ****. But stories about irresponsible celebrities sell in newspapers, tabloids, TV, radio, even in professional journals. I don’t believe it,

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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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The 4 Ways (and Best Way) to Leave Property Using Your Will and Trust

If you have not already, one morning you will wake up and finally accept the fact that one day you shall die. Not an easy thought but coming to this inevitable conclusion earlier in life has the benefit of allowing you to plan for the things that remain when you pass: Your family, friends, legacy, and money. And while you can use accounts that name beneficiary designations to transfer some property – such as retirement plans, life insurance, and transfer-on-death accounts – only Wills and Trusts allow you to transfer property at the point-in-time you desire (such as a beneficiary attaining a certain age), and include protections for beneficiaries (from creditors, spendthrift behaviors, special needs and addiction). But how much

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8 Steps to Transfer Your Coop to a Revocable Trust

Coops are a pain in the neck to transfer, especially if you pass away and your Coop is being transferred by your Will: The Coop does not like accepting payments from non-tenants (because they don’t want to create an excuse for undesired tenancy outside of the proprietary lease and interview process), so months of unpaid fees and late charges begin to stack up waiting for the Surrogate’s Court to admit the deceased-owners Will to Probate. So, it should come as no surprise that someone thought “Hey, if I can transfer my Coop shares using a Revocable Trust, I can save a lot of time and family frustration.” And they were correct: If your Coop is owned by your Revocable Trust,

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How to Write Your Own Eulogy

Only you can tell your story from your point of view. So, it comes as a surprise that many people have no written recounting of their life. In addition, it is sometimes easier to keep certain thoughts and feelings secret until you have passed away, but if you have taken no steps to memorialize how you want to deal with your loose ends, your unfinished business will remain unfinished.   Remember the difference between a Eulogy and an Obituary: An Obituary is often an objective, somewhat-cold fact-based notice of your death; a Eulogy is a speech at your funeral meant to paint a picture of who you really were.   A good Eulogy contains the following chapters:   Origin: When

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