Articles Tagged with brooklyn elder law estate planning

Creating an estate plan is an effective way to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes while minimizing hardships that could otherwise result for loved ones and friends. However, creating a comprehensive estate plan is often just the beginning and there are important reasons why you can and should revise your estate plan. A recent article from Forbes lists the following as important reasons to revise your estate plan:

Significant Changes in Value of Estate

A significant change in the value of your estate may be reason for you to reevaluate how you want your assets to be distributed. You may wish to increase the number of people you include as heirs or adjust the amount you have chosen to distribute. A significant change in the value of your estate should be accompanied by appropriate revisions to your estate plan.

In a previous post titled Health Care Proxy: What is Their Role in My Health Care Decisionmaking?, we discussed the role of health care proxies in your end of life planning and what capabilities they have regarding your medical treatment in the event you are not able to make your own decisions due to incapacity. In New York, naming a health care proxy is commonly done along with the formation of a living will. A living will is another type of advanced directive, it is a written statement that outlines what the patient seeks to have done regarding his or her medical treatment, in the event of incapacity or unconscious. A health care proxy will carry out the terms of a living will when there is one on record, instead of making the medical decisions for the patient which is their traditional role. A living will puts the patient’s loved ones on notice of what the patient’s wishes are and ensures they are carried out.

Interestingly, in New York, legislation has not given guidance as to the right of an incapacitated individual to have their last rights respected. However, courts in New York will, through clear and convincing evidence, attempt to respect those wishes if there is a way for them to be known, i.e. through a written document such as a living will. In the living will, you can state which treatments you wish to refuse in the event that they are being considered for treating your condition. Many forum living wills state that in the event of irreversible physical or mental condition, either due to terminal illness, permanent unconscious condition, or minimal consciousness but inability to make decisions, the patient can decide whether they wish for treatment to be withheld. You can also indicate in which scenarios, such as cardiac resuscitation, artificial feeding, mechanical respiration or refusal of antibiotics, you wish for treatment to be administered or withheld.

When it comes to terminal illness, majority of doctors are quick to respect the wishes of a patient who has completed a living will. Terminal illness is generally the most common and uncontroversial example of a situation where a patient’s living will being recognized by the court. However, situations such as permanent disability have been more difficult to apply living wills to. While some people view disability as an intolerable condition in which they would rather cease living than to have a lesser quality of life, doctors have a difficult time because many people will show signs of improvement over time in situations such as a traumatic accident or episode in which they are left in a lesser state than before.


When a person applies for Medicaid eligibility there are many pitfalls that an unsuspecting or unsophisticated applicant can run afoul of. To help them retain the benefit of certain monies that they would normally have access to third parties or the applicant themselves can create a special needs trust to help keep the public benefits and still benefit from the money in the trust. The various different trusts have different legal requirements that must be met to qualify as that type of trusts.

Moreover, different trusts accomplish different goals and yet other types of trusts exist that have nothing to do with Medicaid or other public entitlement program eligibility but help to reduce tax liability. Some trusts accomplish two tasks, such as a third party special needs trusts, which allow seniors to live a relatively modest and respectable life and qualify for Medicaid at the same time. While other types of trusts only satisfy just one legal goal, such as a grantor retained annuity trust, which allows a person to make a gift of an asset that will likely appreciate rather quickly, but incur no gift tax liability. Finally, there are other types of trusts that outlive their utility, such as pooled trusts.

Sumner Redstone is an entertainment business mogul with a majority share ownership of CBS entertainment and Viacom, and through Viacom, BET and Paramount Pictures, all through his majority ownership of his family business, National Amusement, which originally started out in the drive in movie theater business during The Great Depression.  In just the last few weeks a case against Mr. Redstone by the IRS presents an oddity in the law, which may make many people shutter.  More particularly, the IRS issued a Notice of Deficiency for a taxable event from 1972 – over 40 years later.  

The nature of the case revolved around a transfer of shares in National Amusement Corporation in 1972 to separate trusts set up for the grandchildren of the founder, Sumner Redstone’s father Michael Redstone.  Sumner set up one trust for his kids while his siblings set up separate trusts for their kids.  At the time the transfer of interfamily stock was of a insignificant amount that passing them from personal ownership to a trust did not even require a tax return.  One can and should ask about the concept of a statute of limitation.  

Apparently, as the case against Mr. Redstone shows, the IRS does not have a statute of limitation for unfiled tax returns.  26 U.S.C. § 6501(c)(1) establishes that when a taxpayer files a fraudulent tax return, (c)(2) otherwise attempts to avoid tax liability, or (c)(3) fails to file a tax return, there is no statute of limitation.  Mr. Redstone has an impressive educational pedigree, where he graduated from first in his class from the Boston Latin School and then graduated Harvard in only three years in 1944, which was actually common at the time.  After graduation he served as an officer in the United States Army, helping to decode Japanese messages.  He attended Georgetown Law School after the war and then received his LL.B. in 1947 from Harvard Law.  After working for various governmental departments followed by private practice, Mr. Redstone went to work for the family business, which was booming by then.

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