Probate Assets vs. Non-Probate Assets

Probate (or Estate Administration where there is no Last Will & Testament) refers to the process whereby an estate representative (e.g. Executor, Administrator) is appointed by the Surrogate’s Court to act on behalf of an estate.  Once an estate representative is appointed, he or she then has the authority to collect the assets of the […]

Changes to the Federal Estate & Gift Tax for 2014

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 permanently extended the federal estate,gift, and generation skipping tax exemptions to $5 million per person.  This exemption is indexed for inflation which provides for a 2014 exemption of $5,340,000.  The top federal estate tax rate remains at 40% for 2014.  What this means for most estates (where the […]

Inheritance by Minors – Trust Planning

Where a minor is to inherit over $10,000.00 from an estate, a guardian must be appointed for the minor’s property. This is due to the fact that although a child’s parents are his natural guardians, they do not have the right to control the child’s property exceeding this $10,000.00 limit.  A more effective mechanism for […]

Inheritance by Minors – Guardianships

In the context of probate and estate administration, when an infant (defined as a person less than 18 years of age) is to receive more than $10,000.00 as the beneficiary of an estate, a guardian of the infant’s property must be appointed.  Although a child’s parents are his natural guardians, they do not have the […]

Estate of Levity: Up In Smoke

Samuel Bratt drafted a will as a tool of revenge.  Throughout his marriage, he was never allowed to partake in his favorite pastime - smoking cigars; his wife would not have it.  It wasn't until after his death in 1960 that Mr. Bratt finally got even when it was revealed that his Last Will & Testament […]

Estate of Levity: Holographic Wills

George Harris was a Canadian farmer when he died in a tractor accident in 1948. When friends went back to the scene of the accident days later, they noticed some writing scratched on the fender of Harris’ tractor. It read “In case I die in this mess, I leave all to the wife. Cecil George […]

FAQ – Who May Serve as Administrator of a Decedent’s Estate?

When a decedent passes away intestate (without a will), New York Law (Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act §1001) prescribes who may serve as Administrator of the decedent’s estate.  Letters of Administration are granted to the following individuals, in order of priority: The surviving spouse; Children; Grandchildren; Father or mother; Brothers or sisters; Any other distributee, aka heir, (preference given to the person entitled to the largest […]

FAQ – How Often Should I Update My Will?

Many clients ask, “How often should I update my will?”  You should consider updating your will whenever there is a substantial change of circumstances in your life.  Some of the most obvious changes include getting married, getting divorced, the birth of a child, or possibly the birth of a grandchild.  For instance, many clients want […]