Ways to prevent elder abuse

The second man to walk on the moon, 88-year-old 88 Buzz Aldrin is fighting his two youngest children who he claims are colluding with his former manager Christina Korp to seize control of his estate by alleging that he has dementia. He sued the trio in a Florida court in June. Korp and the Aldrin children deny wrongdoing and blame Aldrin’s “increased confusion and memory loss.”

Wherever the truth lies, what is happening to Aldrin is becoming more and more common and not just to the rich and famous. The exploitation of the elderly is growing and is vastly underreported.

Julie Schoen of the National Center on Elder Abuse told AARP, “It’s such a hidden crime. Within families, victims don’t want to prosecute. There’s a huge gap in our system when it comes to recording these crimes. We need better research. Ninety percent of perpetrators are family members or other people the victim knows well, such as caretakers, neighbors or friends.

Schoen suggests some ways to help protect you and your aged loved ones.

  • When a person is still mentally sharp, help him or her make a plan that designates power of attorney and health care directives. “We tend to want to keep financial matters private, but if we don’t have those discussions, that’s what blows things apart.”
  • Stay connected with older loved ones through regular phone calls, visits or emails.
  • Develop a relationship with your parent’s caregiver. “They’ll be less likely to financially exploit Mother because they know you’re paying attention.”
  • Become a “trusted contact” to monitor bank account and brokerage activity.
  • Sign up for a service such as EverSafe to track financial activity and notify an advocate of unusual withdrawals or spending.
  • Set up direct deposit for checks so others don’t have to cash them.
  • Do not sign any documents that you don’t understand.

If you need legal help protecting an aging loved one, please call us here at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey Weinstein.   347-305-8752.

 

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Inheritance laws in New York

New York is one of 12 states that tax estates of decedents people who owned property in the state.  Now besides that, there are other things you need to know when estate planning.

New York doesn’t charge inheritance tax, but the estate tax comes with one big provision. Though December 31st of this year there is a  $5.5 million exemption which means if the value of the estate is less than $5.5 million, the estate tax is waived.

That tax is in addition to the federal estate tax that hits individual estates worth more than $11,180,000 between gross assets and prior taxable gifts to pay within nine months of the individual’s death. You can get a six-month extension. But chances are you don’t have an estate worth $11 million. Only a few thousand people do.

New York estate property categories

There are only two categories in New York: personal property and real property, Real property is what you probably think it is; land and houses. Personal property is everything else. New York is not a community property state so the surviving spouse doesn’t automatically inherit the deceased’s property.

It does, however have what they call  a spousal right of election when deciding on inheritances for spouses. This law states that should a spouse pass away, his or her spouse will receive an “elective share” of $50,000 or one-third of the decedent’s estate. Should a spouse not receive this elective share, he or she has the right to file for it as long as it’s within a six-month window after an executor for the estate has been named.

Importance of a will 

If you die with a will in New York things are normally pretty straight forward, but it will still need to go through probate and people can challenge the will. There are ways to avoid probate and the Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein can help you avoid probate.

The State  entitles surviving spouses who have disinherited them to a piece of their estate. But this is limited to non-probate assets, such as property held in joint tenancy or a jointly held brokerage account paid on death to beneficiaries.

Dying without a will

An administration proceeding is the most common legal event that occurs in New York if you die without a valid will, but you own property. If when you pass away you don’t have a will, your estate consists of either jointly-owned or no real property, and your personal property is worth less than $30,000, you must file as a small estate.

Without a will, if you only own real property, it goes to your nearest relative.

There are other issues involve in estate planning and the law offices of Jeffrey Weinstein  347-305-8752 can help you navigate the process to lessen the hassle for you and your heirs.

 

 

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Two must have estate planning documents

For purposes of life planning, many people make the mistake of think a living will is the same as a health care proxy. They are two different animals, but both are necessary.

A health car proxy is also known as a health care power of attorney. A living will allows you to designate some to make medical decisions on you behalf if you can’t do it yourself. A living will expresses your wishes for end of life care. You should have both.

Also, in New York State a healthy care power of attorney or your health care agent is a separate  from a power of attorney. Your health care agent ─ or agent, for short ─ will have the authority to make life and death decisions for you according to your wishes. Make sure that the person you pick is willing to be your agent.

When you ask someone to be your health care agent, you should think about several things. For example, usually it is best to name one person as your first choice. Then choose at least one back-up agent, in case the first person is not available when needed. Here are some tips on what not to do:

DO NOT choose your health care providers or the owner
or operator of a health or residential care facility that is
currently serving you.
DO NOT choose a spouse, employee, or spouse of an
employee of your health care providers.
DO NOT choose anyone who professionally evaluates your
capacity to make decisions.
DO NOT choose anyone who works for a government
agency that is financially responsible for your care
(unless that person is a blood relative).
DO NOT choose anyone that a court has already
appointed to be your guardian or conservator.
DO NOT choose anyone who already serves as a health
care agent for 10 or more people

Who to choose?

Choose someone who will talk with you now about your wishes, who will understand what you want and your priorities about health care, and who   will do as you ask faithfully when the time comes.

Choose someone who lives near you or could travel to be with you, if needed.

Choose someone you trust with your life.  Choose someone who can handle conflicting
opinions from family members, friends, and medical personnel.

Choose someone who can be a strong advocate for you if a doctor or institution is unresponsive.

If you need guidance for any of these issues, please contact our law offices at 347-305-8752. 

 

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Funerals for the rich

A crypt beneath New York’s Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is available for $7 million. This isn’t just any crypt, It’s one of the last full-body burial spots in Manhattan and can hold nine caskets and 10 cremated remains. And at least three prominent NYC families have already inquired about it.

Today, funerals are becoming the way for the rich to flaunt their wealth. Along with lavish weddings and over-the-top birthday parties,  funerals have become a way for the rich to flaunt their wealth one last time.

William Villanova, general manager of Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, New York’s “undertaker to the stars.” told “Accounting Today, “Whatever we can do that is legal, lawful and in keeping with the integrity of our profession, we will do.”

CEO Nigel Lymn Rose of the U.K.-based A.W. Lymn funeral home said, custom-made Rolls-Royce Phantom VII hearses and a fleet of 25 matching Rolls-Royce sedans are sought-after internationally.

He also told Accounting Today, “I get inquiries from people who have always driven Rolls-Royce’s and want their final journey to be in a Rolls-Royce.  They “want to make a statement: Ride it in life, ride it in death.”

Accounting Today also told of  the recent funeral of a fashion designer they did not name, where they assembled 120 gospel singers who performed as the casket was carried from the hall. A marching band performed at one service, and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall was covered in blue hydrangeas to mirror the deceased’s Hamptons home.

Businessmen and billionaires are often aggressively competitive in life “and that doesn’t end when they think they’re going to die,” said Ted Klontz, a Nashville, Tennessee-based financial psychologist.

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Avoid estate planning mistakes like Aretha

Aretha Franklin may have been the Queen of Soul, but she made gigantic estate planning mistakes that you should avoid. Franklin, who was divorced, died without a will or a trust despite having four grown children, one of whom has special needs.

If you follow in her footsteps could mean your loved ones won’t receive the inheritance you intended; disbursements could be long-delayed; ugly family squabbles may ensue; and your estate might owe additional taxes and your financial life will become a public record. If you have a special needs child, he or she may wind up losing some government benefits.

Many Americans don’t have a will or a living trust. A 2017 survey by Caring.com found that only 4 in 10 adults do. The study noted 64 percent of Gen Xers and 42 percent of boomers don’t have a will. The top reason for not taking these easy estate-planning steps, according to survey respondents: they “hadn’t gotten around to it.”

Chances are you don’t have anywhere near Franklin’s reported $80 million. But the actual dollar value isn’t the point. It’s about making sure your loved ones receive what you want the way you want them to.

If you don’t have a will, your estate will wind up in probate court, which means it will become public for anyone to see.

In Franklin’s case, the feds will take a big bite, too. There’s a 40 percent estate tax on an estate’s assets over $11.18 million (the exception to this: money or assets left to charity). If Franklin’s estate truly is worth $80 million, the Internal Revenue Service will snag $27.5 million of that.

Get a will for Pete’s sake. You can do it online but your better off having a real attorney to make sure it is totally legal. If you don’t have a will, your estate will wind up in probate court, which means it will become public for anyone to see and create hassles for your loved ones.

 

 

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