Articles Tagged with bronx estate planning

Comprehensive estate plans often include precautionary measures that ensure your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes. Many times, many of your assets will be distributed to your spouse. However, it is important to think ahead for every possible scenario when engaging in comprehensive estate planning to prevent any unnecessary interruptions in the distribution of your assets once you have passed on. Some or all of the provisions discussed below could be a good fit for your estate plan and protecting your assets.

Simultaneous-Death Clauses

One scenario you may need to consider when engaging in responsible, comprehensive estate planning is one in which you and your primary beneficiary die at the same time or in a manner where it isn’t possible to determine who died first. Popular among married couples that often plan to leave a large part or all of their estate to their spouse, this type of clause allows you to appoint an individual who will be named as the first to die in situations where authorities are unable to determine who died first.

Nearly seventy percent of Americans who reach age 65 will require some form of long-term care support. Many of these seniors will need care for a number of years. On average, women require 3.7 years of care while men require only 2.2 years. Decisions regarding this care should not be made lightly. If you are the child of a senior citizen and are faced with making choices regarding the care of your parent, there are a number of factors to consider.

Time & Scope of Care

The first step in assess the level of care you parent or parents may need is to evaluate the amount of care required. Ask yourself:

Few people think about what will happen to their business after they die and therefore rarely put together a plan. Fewer may even think that a family or closely held business should be considered a part of their estate plan. However, for many small business owners, their financial interest in their business may be the largest asset that they have and represent most of the wealth that they will transfer at the time of their death. When transferring a family or closely held business, a well-funded life insurance policy can play a very large role in a smooth transition.

Providing For Your Children

There are a number of contingencies that a business owner has to consider when transferring their interest in their family or closely held business. While family businesses may be a truly family affair, with children working, operating and managing the business as well as the parents, it is a fact of life that not all of the children may be interested or suited to taking ownership of the business. In some cases, there might not be any children that wish to take over.

Art pieces and collectibles can often be difficult to price. After all, the best and easiest way to price an item is to see what other items like it have sold for. But in these cases, art and collections can be one of a kind and have no comparison. When this happens it can be a headache for a person planning their estate to account for the value of aesthetic beauty and rarity of their art. In this uncertainty though, there is room to maneuver to your advantage when it comes to planning out your estate.

Valuing Your Art

In the United States, if you are attempting to transfer a work of art valued over $50,000, the IRS goes through a process by which it independently evaluates the items. It is the IRS Art Advisory Panel who will have the final say when it comes to evaluating the value of your art, but this does not mean that they will not accept outside opinions. Traditionally art is valued by experts who work in the field, often those with very special niches, sometimes even down the individual artist. When an independent expert values your art, you can submit that assessment to the IRS for consideration.


This blog previously discussed the Supreme Court case of Clark v. Rameker and the legal implications of money remaining in an IRA at death, that is in turn left to the heirs of an estate. Putting aside the potential tax implications, if any, with passing on an account with an easily ascertainable value, passing on an IRA can strip the IRA of its legal protections, such keeping it from the reach of judgment creditors. It should be noted that this discussion does not include leaving money in an IRA to a spouse, which the law allows special treatment for, by allowing the spouse to roll it over into a regular IRA account upon the death of the owner of the IRA and treat it as if it were his/her own IRA.

With respect to all other types of heirs, with an inherited IRA, the owner can withdraw from the IRA prior to reaching the age of 59 and one half years old. If the IRA is not inherited the owner would normally face a ten percent penalty if did this. In addition, the owner of an inherited IRA must withdraw the entire balance within five years of the original owner’s passing or take annual minimum distributions, allowing the bulk of the money to sit in the account and grow tax free. The money is only taxed to the recipient upon withdrawal. Most importantly, the owner cannot add funds to the IRA account. To maintain certain protections, such as keeping the money in the IRA out of the hands of judgment creditors and to minimize the tax liability, it may be wise for the testator to leave the money in the IRA to an IRA trust or conduit trust.


New York is one of approximately 19 states, along with the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands to specifically adopt the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act in some significant form or another. The law was drafted in 1940 and amended through the decades, last time in 1993. It was written by the Uniform Law Commission in an effort to provide uniformity and the accompanying benefits that uniformity provide across the 50 plus jurisdictions that exist in these United States. Of course each state is free to adopt the uniform act in its entirety, part of the law or just use it as a template to base a similar but different law on it.

New York adopted the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act, at least in part, early on in the early 1940s. By 1944 at least 24 states and the then Territory of Hawaii also adopted the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act. It was designed in large part to address the issue of when two or more people pass away in a common disaster, with no meaningful difference in the order of death. For example, if both father and son or husband and wife both pass away in a tragic automobile accident. Such tragedies were much more commonplace in previous decades with the rapid and significant increase in medical technology. Not surprisingly reports of how the law was resolve such legal technicalities goes back centuries, to at least 1784. Even ancient Roman law had presumptions in place to deal with such tragedies.


It is not unheard of for adoptive children to seek out their biological parents and reestablish contact once they are old enough and understand the world much better. The drive to understand who your biological ancestors are, to know where they came from and their story is practically innate or inborn. This is a healthy endeavor as it helps to fill out and expand the adult child’s world view of who they are and may help to explain certain personality quarks. There are also legitimate medical reasons for the decision to reach out to the biological parents, so as to understand medical risks, family medical histories or perhaps even obtain a pool of possible bone marrow or organ donors in the unlikely event that something like that is needed. Those issues speak to the social and emotional issues that revolve around adoption. Legally, however, an adopted child is a veritable stranger to the biological parent in non-stepparent adoptions. Inheritance rights are created in the adoptive child vis-a-vis the adoptive parents. Inheritance rights via the biological parents are severed. The only way that a biological parent can pass property or money on to the child adopted out from them is to specifically include them in their will. A class gift to “all of my children” from a biological parent excludes from its scope children adopted out from them and includes any children that that person adopted.


An earlier post on this blog provided an overview of using beneficiary designations as part of your estate plan. Recall that beneficiary designations are a way to transfer property automatically upon the death of the asset owner outside of the probate process. This post is part II of that discussion, and include some of the pros and cons of using beneficiary designations, as well as a few special considerations related to certain forms of beneficiary designations.

Pros and Cons of Using Beneficiary Designations

Beneficiary designations can be a simple and effective mechanism to transfer your property in much the same a will or trust distributes your property. The advantages of beneficiary designations include the ease in which it can be set up and the speed and in which the beneficiary receives the asset. Also, the owner of the asset has flexibility to designate any of combination of shares to any number of primary and contingent beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may be individuals, trusts, charities, or the property owner’s own estate by way of its personal representative.

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