Importance of Elder Law Attorneys

Medicaid planning, estate tax issues, estate planning, poor family dynamics, and planning for incapacity are a small list of what Elder Law attorneys face on a daily basis.

Having the guidance of a trusted elder law attorney allows you to develop the proper legal documentation for taking care of your property. It allows you to appoint an agent to make decisions regarding medical treatments if you are unable to. This helps to avoid family disputes. Elder lawyers focus on a range of legal issues that affect the elderly.

The most important step you can take to plan for the future of yourself and of all your family is to consult an Elder law attorney.

At Miller & Miller Law Group PLLC it is our goal to help you understand how planning can protect you and your family.


The Electronic Age and Estate Planning

Senior Couple SeriesThe world is changing every single day. In terms of technology it seems that every year, phones, televisions and electronic devices are continuing to evolve. With all this technology, many people actually have valuable “electronic assets”. These assets may include website domain names, accounts with email providers, Facebook, Amazon and many other accounts. Just like any asset if someone purchases and owns a domain name, this becomes their private property. Most electronic accounts such as Gmail work the same way.

As well as these assets, your banking information, and common banking accounts also use websites that may store financial and extremely personal data. If you pass away it is important that someone handles all of these electronic accounts properly. You may want to save treasured photos stored away, or you may want someone to log into your email in order to notify friends and contacts.

Doing nothing in terms of these electronic assets will certainly result in your domain names expiring and email and online accounts becoming deleted. Finances and memorable data are your assets and it is important everything is planned out accordingly.

Seeking the help of an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial in handling all your assets.

What is Power of Attorney?

Estate Planning is a complex and in-depth process that is more than just preparing and disposing of your estate when you pass away. There are important questions and steps that must be asked and addressed. One of those steps that must be addressed is who should be able to take care of your finances in the event of your incapacity.

What is Power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a very powerful document that allows your agent, the person you designate, to act as you in a certain financial matter. If the power of attorney is durable it will continue to be effective even in the event of your incapacity. The amount of power given away is truly determined by the principal. The agent can be given power for a specific issue or for most financial matters. We recommend that immense powers be given to your agent. Due to this fact, we tell our clients that you need to have the utmost trust in your agent. We include a statutory gift rider with extended powers of gifting for Medicaid and Estate Tax purposes. This gives the agent flexibility to effectuate estate planning or Medicaid planning on behalf of the principal. The agent must act in a fiduciary capacity and only use the power of attorney to benefit the principal. The agent is responsible for keeping records for all transactions made on behalf of the principal.

Miller & Miller Law Group PLLC has over 35 years of experience within estate planning & power of attorney. For further questions or to request a consultation please feel free to give us a call at (718) 875-2191 or fill out an online contact form.


When is Updating My Estate Plan Important?

Once you have gone through the entire process of creating an estate plan, there are important dates that you must keep in mind moving forward. You should revisit your estate plan after  any of the following important life events:

  • Marriage: A spouse should be provided for in a person’s will.  Even if a spouse is disinherited in a will they are entitled to 1/3 of the estate in New York, called the elective share. Having a spouse gives an estate planning attorney more options in estate planning such as joint gifting, credit shelter trusts, and a higher federal estate tax exemption.
  • Children: After having children it is extremely important to name a guardian in your will in case something happens to you and your significant other. Naming someone responsible to take care of your children in this unfortunate event is of utmost importance.
  • Passing of a Spouse or Divorce: If either of these situations happen you will certainly need to update your plan. It is highly likely that your spouse was labeled in your estate plan. Updating your estate plan and beneficiaries are necessary to reflect your wishes.
  • Financial Shift of Assets: If large enough, a persons estate may be subject to estate tax upon their passing.  Estate Planning attorneys can come up with a plan to reduce or even possibly eliminate estate taxes due.

Estate Planning is complicated and difficult to manage if you don’t have an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to guide you through. For any further information about setting up an estate plan and the process throughout please feel free to give Miller & Miller Law Group PLLC a call at 781-875-2191 or fill out an inquiry form.

What is Elder Law?

Many people may not understand what elder law is or even know that they are looking for its services. Elder Law is a legal term used that covers a range of legal services targeted towards senior citizens & the aging population. There are three main categories and legal services involved in Elder Law and they are:

Other issues found under these main legal services encompass protecting against elder abuse, fraud & neglect. With the aging and older population growing faster then ever, the elderly need to be more protected then ever.

The Attorneys at Ira K. Miller & Associates are extremely skilled and experienced throughout Elder Law services. For further questions or information, we are happy to talk. Please feel free to give us a call at  (718) 875-2191 or fill out a consultation form.

Wealthy are Suffering without Estate Planning

In a recent story & survey by CNBC, it has been shown that more then 1/3 of high net worth families do not have an estate plan set up. They have surely not taken the basic steps needed in the case that someone dies, to protect and provide for their loved ones.

The survey has shown that 38 percent of people with over then 1 million dollars in investable assets have yet to use a financial expert to set up an estate plan. This is a major mistake when it comes to estate planning.

National director of wealth-planning strategies for U.S. Trust,  Mitch Drossman, is not surprised at these numbers and blames it to be the uncertainty and changes to the federal estate-tax law over the last decade. He describes the frequent changes led to advisers and attorneys consistently needing to reach out to their clients to explain these changes and to be sure their documents were up to date. Clients eventually just had enough with it.

“I think people tend to think of estate planning as being primarily a means to reduce estate taxes, and therefore, if they don’t have to pay estate tax, they may feel they don’t have to do any planning,” said David Mendels. While estate planning can help reduce estate tax, it is much much more.  It elects guardians for minor children, it plans for a persons incapacity, it can help protect assets from creditors, or keep a person on governmental benefits with the implementation of a supplemental needs trust.

New York is actually one of 15 states that collect a state estate tax. Currently, New York’s estate tax is significantly below the Federal Estate tax exemption.  It is set to match the Federal Estate tax exemption in 2018.

Estate planning is about protecting your assets, and providing for your loved ones. It is also about protecting your wishes regarding end of life decisions and ensuring that the people you trust are the people handling your affairs if you are unable to.

Further along in the article it reads, “A durable financial power of attorney document is also necessary, as it identifies the person you’d like to manage your money if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, said Frye. Such legal documents grant that person legal authority to pay taxes on your behalf, borrow money, pay your bills, invest and handle bank transactions.”.

Ira K. Miller & Associates has over 35 years of experience in estate planning. We are happy to answer any questions you might have.  As the article says,, “[y]ou have to plan for the worst, and hope for the best”

Who should have an estate plan?

Estate Planning is not only for retired and older individuals or for people with a large estate or large house, it is for everyone! Unfortunately, estate planning can often become a neglected part of many people’s financial planning. Everyone has an estate, and that means you should have estate plan. For young parents an estate plan can protect your most valuable assets, your children. A will is an incredibly important document to advise the court as to who you would like to take care of your children if you were to pass before your children reach the age of majority.

An estate consists of everything you own between cars, real estate, bank accounts, etc. With no estate plan set up, in the event of your death, your assets will be divided according the New York State laws of intestacy. The New York laws do not know your desires in distributing your estate, only you know that.

A proper estate plan can help save on estate taxes, avoid a guardianship proceeding, elect a caretaker for your children, and distribute your assets according to your wishes and desires.

For further information and to discuss your current situation, we are happy to talk. Please feel free to give us a call at (718) 875-2191 or fill out a contact form.

I Have Been Appointed as Guardian in New York, Now What?

gaurdianship attorneyYou have now been appointed as Guardian of the Person and/or Property in New York. You have participated in the hearing and have been told by the judge that you will be acting as Guardian for the incapacitated person. Listed below are steps which must be taken to qualify as a Guardian after the hearing.

  • Review CAREFULLY the Order and Judgment appointing the Guardian of the person and property- The order explicitly lists out what is expected of the Guardian, the powers of the guardian, and the necessary duties that the guardian must fulfill.
  • Guardianship Training Class- The law requires that Guardians go through a training class. As Guardian of the Property the guardian must act as a fiduciary for the incapacitated person, and keep meticulous records. The class explains what is expected of the guardian by the Court.
  • Bond- the Order and Judgment will often set a surety bond to protect the assets of the Incapacitated Person. The bond is like an insurance policy, which is paid for from the incapacitated person’s money. If the guardian were to misappropriate the funds of the incapacitated person, the bond would secure the monies of the incapacitated person.
  • Oath and Designation- This is an oath from the Guardian designating the county clerk for service if the guardian cannot be located.
  • Commission- This states that the bond has been obtained and filed, and the oath and designation has been filed. It allows the person to begin acting as the Guardian and marshalling assets.
  • 90 day report- 90 days from filing the commission the guardian must submit a report to the court examiner, the person appointed to review the actions of the guardian, and to the court. The report lists the assets marshaled, the assets that have not been marshaled, and what actions are being taken on behalf of the incapacitated person.
  • Annual Accountings- Every year a report is due in May to the court examiner and the court. This report lists all the monies that were received and expended. The Guardian is responsible for keeping very detailed records and showing all the money that has come in and all the money that was spent on the incapacitated person.

Having an attorney help you with all these steps can help protect you as Guardian.

, please feel free to give us a call at (718) 875-2191 or request a consultation.

Probate 103- Distribution According to the Last Will and Testament

The last step of an estate is everyone’s favorite, distribution. After all the estate’s property has been marshaled and liabilities have been paid, the executor can begin the process of distribution according to the Last Will and Testament. The executor should wait 7 months for any creditors to submit their claims to the estate. It also may be advisable for an executor to withhold some funds as a precaution in the event another claim was to surface against the estate.

Listed below are some of the steps the executor should take before distributing the estate:

  • Set up Trust – If a trust is specified in the Will, the executor is responsible for setting up the trust.
  • Specific Bequests – Distribute specific bequests.
  • Create Informal Accounting – An informal accounting will be created which details all the assets marshaled, administration expenses, and the amount that is set to be distributed to each person according to the Will. This document will be sent to the beneficiaries listed in the Will.
  • Release and Receipts – The releases will release and indemnify the Executor from liability and agree to the amount being distributed to them according to the Will. It is important that release and receipts are received prior to distribution.
  • Disblank checktribution – Checks will be made out to the residuary beneficiaries or to any testamentary trust.

Listed in this series of blogs were very basic steps to having an executor appointed, marshal the assets, and distribute an estate. For more information, contact a knowledgeable probate and estate attorney.

Probate 102 – Marshalling of Assets and Payment of Liabilities

Once the courts grant the Executor letters testamentary, it is time to marshal the assets and pay the liabilities of the estate. An experienced estate attorney can provide valuable advice and help with this process. Marshalling the assets involve first locating the assets of the decedent. The assets that are to be marshaled are any accounts and property that did not have a beneficiary attached to it. The following are other steps the Executor must account for:

  • Get EIN number – This number will be associated with the estate account for tax purposes.
  • Set up Estate Account – The Executor will need to create an Estate Account. The account will be titled the Estate of the decedent.
  • Transfer Property to Estate Account – Once the estate account is set up, the Executor will transfer any property that was in decedents name alone (no beneficiary designation listed on the account) to the estate account.
  • Appraisals of Property – An Executor may need to have appraisals done for businesses, real property, artwork, or anything that may have value.
  • Pay liabilities and reimburse parties for expenses expended – The Executor must make sure that claims are legitimate
  • Income Tax – Hire an accountant to file an income tax return for any years that have not been paid.
  • Estate Tax – Estate Taxes may need to be filed for New York State and Federally. Estate taxes are due 9 months from decedent’s date of death.
  • Wait for Creditors – Creditors have 7 months from the issuance of letters testamentary to come forward with any claims they have against the estate.
  • Keep a Detailed Accounting – Records of all the assets that have been marshaled and expended on behalf of the estate must be accounted for.

Being an Executor is no easy task. It can be very difficult to find where a decedent had their assets. Also, deciding whether to sell an asset or transfer at value is another difficult decision an Executor may need to make. The most important step of being an Executor is keeping detailed records. Every penny that was brought into the Estate should be accounted for.

For further legal advice and to talk with an experienced probate attorney, please feel free to give us a call at (718) 875-2191 or request a consultation.