Featured Articles

How to Avoid Probate Using Real Property Deeds as Estate Planning Devices

How to Avoid Probate Using Real Property Deeds as Estate Planning Devices

Alice and Bill live in Brooklyn. They are about to purchase their first home. Understanding how expensive the Brooklyn real estate market is, Alice’s mother, Cathy, is going to contribute some money towards the purchase of the property. But how can this deed be titled to both preserve the mother’s rights and avoid Probate.
There are a number of ways to hold property and not go through probate:

  • The first way to hold property is as “tenants in common.” Tenants in Common are considered to own their share of the property and be responsible for all costs of their pro rata share. When a tenant in common dies, that person’s share passes via that person’s estate. If a person has a Last Will and Testament, then the property will pass pursuant to that Will. If the property was transferred into a Trust, then the asset will pass pursuant to the terms of the Trust. If a person dies without a Will then the property will pass in accordance with the laws of intestacy (or, in New York, pursuant to Estates Powers and Trusts Law Section 4-1.1). The estate of a person who holds property as a tenant in common will then have to determine what needs to be done, including whether they need Court approval to sell. A tenancy in common may be the optimal way for two parties who have different remainder beneficiaries to hold property. However, this way of holding property may not be ideal for those parties desiring to pass their property to the same person, or, those trying to avoid probate (click here to learn more.)
  • Another way to hold property is as Joint Tenants. Joint tenants each own the full share of the property. Upon the death of one tenant, the second tenant automatically succeeds to the deceased tenant’s ownership interest in the property. There is no need to probate.

What about Cathy? Can Cathy’s contribution to the property be reflected in the deed? Perhaps Cathy should be given a “life estate.” A life estate is only available during a person’s lifetime. During life, the other parties cannot sell or do anything to the property without the consent of the life estate holder. A great option if Cathy does not want Alice to cash out and move out to another state. At death, the life estate holder’s interest is extinguished, again avoiding the need for probate.

What’s the best option for Alice, Bill, and Cathy? Under these circumstances, a joint tenancy deed with a life estate for Cathy.

Additional resources provided by the author

For more information, please contact estate planning attorney Regina Kiperman:
Phone: 917-261-4514
Email: rkiperman@gylawny.com
Or visit her at her new location:
Grimaldi & Yeung LLP
80 Maiden Lane
Suite 304
New York, NY 10038

Visit Regina on Google+

This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Congratulations to Pauline Yeung-Ha who will be honored as a 2017 Brooklyn Women of Distinction

Congratulations to Pauline Yeung-Ha who will be honored as a 2017 Brooklyn Women of Distinction

On June 1st, Pauline Yeung-Ha is being honored as one of the 2017 Brooklyn Women of Distinction.

Please join us as we honor these amazing women for their extraordinary commitment to their vocations, dedication for volunteering and influential impact on the greater community.

Thursday June 1, 2017
6:00 PM – 9:30 PM EDT
Click for the invitation

Women Of Distinction_2017_04_28

 

GRIMALDI & YEUNG LLP:
Phone: 718-238-6960
Brooklyn and Manhattan Offices:

9201 4th Ave, 6th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209

546 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10036

80 Maiden Lane, Suite 304
New York, NY 10038
917-261-4514

This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Look Who’s Talking: A Book Talk by Joanne Seminara, Esq.

Look Who’s Talking: A Book Talk by Joanne Seminara, Esq.

Meet Joanne Seminara, Esq.
Saturday, May 13th, 2017
2:30 PM
Fort Hamilton Library
9424 4th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11209

Ms. Seminara, a Co-Author of 5@55: The 5 Essential Legal Documents You Need by Age 55”, will provide advice about Wills, Health Care Proxies, Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, Digital Diaries and the protections each of these documents provide. 

 

GRIMALDI & YEUNG LLP:
Phone: 718-238-6960
Brooklyn and Manhattan Offices:

9201 4th Ave, 6th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209

546 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10036

80 Maiden Lane, Suite 304
New York, NY 10038
917-261-4514

This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Your “Digital Diary” is an Indispensable New Tool in Your Estate Plan

Your “Digital Diary” is an Indispensable New Tool in Your Estate Plan

All of us spend increasingly more and more time on computers, smart phones and on multiple online sites where we communicate with our family, friends and work colleagues.  Perhaps you shop, pay bills, bank, manage investments, create and share information, photos, images and music, and enjoy other recreational pursuits online.  All of these communications, contacts and accounts, and even the fact that you use these sites, make up your digital life and are your “Digital Assets.” And it can be a great tool to help with your Estate Planning.
The following information comes from the book “5@55: The 5 Essential Legal Documents You Need by the Age of 55″, written by Grimaldi & Yeung Partners Judith D. Grimaldi and Joanne Seminara.

These Digital Assets may be saved blogs and photos, frequent flier credits and other items of value, such as domain names that could have monetary value.  Digital assets, such as photos, have sentimental value and historic family records may be even more important to you and your loved ones, especially in the event of sudden death.

Therefore, you need to provide a way for these assets to be catalogued, accessed, managed, protected, “given” to others and/or deleted if you die or become disabled.

Your Will and/or Trust and Power of Attorney needs to contain special language which gives your Executor and/or Trustee and the agent named in your Power of Attorney access to your Digital Assets. Without this special access language, these persons who are your agents may not have access.  That is because Digital Assets are subject to the Term of Service (TOS) Agreements the providers of these sites (i.e. Facebook, Google, American Airlines, LinkedIn, etc.) impose on all users.  Remember that box you are forced to check when you “log in” to a new site, stating that you agree to certain terms and conditions of use? These TOS agreements can restrict access to your Digital Assets by others, even if they are named as an Executor in your Will or your Power of Attorney agent. The special language provided in the documents our firm prepares for you, allows for this access by persons you have chosen and can override these site restrictions.

We have provided you with a copy of a “Digital Diary” booklet for your use as a way to provide your trusted agents with complete and updated information about the electronic sites you now use or will use in the future.  We urge to fill in and regularly update this easily amendable Digital Diary. The Diary can catalogue all of your electronic sites, listing each site’s user name and password for you and your trusted agent, Executor or Trustee. They will be able to access the information on these sites if you become disabled or die.

This Digital Diary may be accessed as a downloadable, fillable form on our website at www.gylawny.com.  We suggest that you download it, fill it in and amend it every time there is a change in your online sites or information needed to “log in” to each site.  Print, and as needed, replace a paper copy of this Digital Diary and retainer it in a safe location known to one or more of your trusted agents, and perhaps a spouse, partner, child or friend. The information in your Digital Diary should not exist solely on your computer.   If you bank on-line it is important that your agent or fiduciary know about the existence of your bank accounts or other monetary assets so that these assets may be used (as needed) to pay bills, and to avoid interest and penalties.

Please think of the Digital Diary as a starting point for creating your own unique catalogue of your electronic information.  If the Grimaldi & Yeung Digital Diary does not meet all your needs, we encourage you to tailor it by adding categories of online sites or information that may be particular to you.  For example, if a site requires you to answer security questions when you log in, you may wish to add the answers to these questions to your Digital Diary.  If you trade in Bitcoin or are involved in certain types of on-line activity for business or entertainment you may need to add more information to your Digital Diary.

We will not retain a copy of your Digital Diary in our files and you do not need to provide us with a copy of same.  We urge you to safeguard your Digital Diary as you would any other precious asset so that it does not come into the wrong hands and create a risk of fraud or identity theft.

Please Note and Consider:

  • Several on-line sites allow you to designate a person to access your account by registering that person with the provider. You can provide the on-line provider with specific directions regarding the identity of persons who are allowed to control your on-line presence. You may also be able to provide additional directions regarding the access to your account. This registration of a person for access or control will override any designation provided in your Will, Trust or Power of Attorney.
  • If you become disabled or die and an on-line account becomes dormant because its existence is unknown to your agent or fiduciary or he/she is unable to access it, this account may be vulnerable to identity theft.
  • If an Executor or agent is unaware of a bank account because he or she finds no paper record of said account, the funds in the account may be unknowingly lost and sent to New York State to be held as “unclaimed funds.”

Contact us at Grimaldi & Yeung LLP with your questions and ask for your free copy of the Digital Diary or download it now at www.gylawny.com. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you safeguard your digital life.

Additional resources provided by the authors, Judith D. Grimaldi & Joanne Seminara

GRIMALDI & YEUNG LLP:
Phone: 718-238-6960
Brooklyn and Manhattan Offices:

9201 4th Ave, 6th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209

546 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10036

80 Maiden Lane, Suite 304
New York, NY 10038
917-261-4514

This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Long-Term Care and Asset Protection

Long-Term Care and Asset Protection

Read Part I here in the article series by Joanne Seminara, Esq. 

Seniors and persons with disabilities are justifiably concerned about the cost of long-term care, that is, long-term home care and nursing home care not covered by traditional health insurance, such as Medicare or other insurance. If you have been diagnosed with a long-term illness for which you will need care, the prospect of spending most or all of your hard-earned savings paying for this care, or worse, going without needed care, can be terrifying.

The cost of home care is catastrophic, especially for those who need full-day or 24-hour care.  Even more worrisome is the high cost of nursing home care, which can easily cost $15,000 to $18,000 per month and quickly wipe out a lifetime of careful savings. Then, there is the unsettling possibility of a lien being placed on your estate or your home for Medicaid services provided during your lifetime.

Enter the Medicaid Asset Protection Trust:
Medicaid is a government-funded program through which you can receive care at home or in a nursing home.  Applying for Medicaid is a complex process requiring extensive documentation of assets and income that can be very difficult to navigate. An experienced Elder Law attorney can protect your assets using a Medicaid Asset Protective Trust, or can suggest other ways to protect your assets.

A properly drafted and funded Trust can provide many benefits while helping you obtain the long-term care you may need.

For many people the home that they own and live in is their most valuable asset.  In transferring your home to a Medicaid Asset Protective Trust you can preserve your and your spouse’s exclusive lifetime residential rights and protect the home from a lien for Medicaid services.  If you place this asset (or any other assets) in this kind of Trust, the transfer of assets starts the Medicaid 5 -year “look- back” period which affects the timing of your eligibility for nursing home care.

This Medicaid Asset Protection Trust can also manage bequests to your loved ones for example, by providing specially tailored protections for a beneficiary who is disabled; a beneficiary who is irresponsible with money; and a beneficiary who is a minor.   If you have a beneficiary who is being sued, is in debt, or in the middle of a divorce, this Trust can provide these further protections.  Moreover, if properly drafted by an experienced attorney, a Medicaid Asset Protective Trust can:

  1. Provide significant capital gains tax savings compared to transferring the title to your home directly to family members during your lifetime;
  2. Name Trustees to manage your Trust assets for you;
  3. Provide that such assets not be distributed until after your death; and
  4. Act as a Will substitute and allow your estate to avoid probate

Caution:There is a 5-year period, starting from the date you transfer assets to the Medicaid Asset Protective Trust, which governs whether a penalty period will affect your eligibility for Medicaid-covered nursing home care. Thus, it is best to create and fund this kind of Trust more than 5 years before you are likely to need nursing home care.  In contrast, there is only a one-month penalty period for transfers of assets in connection with applications for Medicaid home care.

Because the law has many nuances and pitfalls, you are well advised to seek the advice of an Elder Law Attorney before creating a Medicaid Asset Protective Trust or any other kind of Trust, transferring assets or making a Medicaid application. An Elder Law attorney can accurately answer all your questions and assist you with a strategy to meet your individual needs.

Additional resources provided by the author

Joanne Seminara
March 30, 2017

GRIMALDI & YEUNG LLP:
Phone: 718-238-6960
Brooklyn and Manhattan Offices:

9201 4th Ave, 6th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209

546 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10036

80 Maiden Lane, Suite 304
New York, NY 10038
917-261-4514

This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

To Probate – or Not to Probate? That is the Question. Below May Be The Answer 

To Probate – or Not to Probate? That is the Question. Below May Be The Answer 

Suzy died in Brooklyn, New York last week. She was survived by her five children. Suzy’s youngest daughter, Laura, claimed that she was in possession of Suzy’s original Will. The other four children were shocked and surprised to hear this because Suzy always told them that she didn’t need a Will as she intended for everything to be spilt equally among all of the children. Laura filed the Will with the Court. She did not file a probate petition because she was not listed as the Executor.

Laura told her brother, Jason, that he should file for probate because he was listed as the executor. Jason consulted his remaining siblings and Jason, along with the remaining siblings, decided that they did not want to offer the Will for probate. Instead, they wanted to take the position that Suzy didn’t leave a Will and therefore, seek Letters of Administration.

There are several instances where the Court may issue Letters of Administration despite the existence of an instrument purporting to be a Will. Examples are:

  1. When the distribution scheme under the Will is the same as without a Will (the Will gives equally to all of the children and the children would get equally without the Will) and the expense of probating the will is too great relative to the size of the estate because of a technical issue with the Will (difficulty in locating witnesses and no self-proving affidavit).
  2. When the distribution scheme under the Will is different than without the Will but all of the parties (both beneficiaries and distributees) consent and the Court is satisfied that no useful purpose would be served with a probate proceeding.
  3. When the sole beneficiary is also the sole distributed who wants to avoid probate costs.
  4. Where the Will has not been probated within a reasonable time or the probate proceeding has not been diligently pursued.
  5. Where all of the disposition set forth in the Will have lapsed for some reason

It is important to review the dispositive provisions of the Will and gauge the steps necessary to probate the instrument in order to determine whether to proceed with probate, or whether, it may be more efficient and economical, to simply set aside the will and seek Letters of Administration.

Additional resources provided by the author

For more information, please contact estate planning attorney Regina Kiperman:
Phone: 917-261-4514
Email: rkiperman@gylawny.com
Or visit her at her new location:
Grimaldi & Yeung LLP
80 Maiden Lane
Suite 304
New York, NY 10038

This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.