Articles Tagged with new york estate planners

While the stereotype of the wicked stepmother is – appropriately – more a figment of the movies than reality, stepmothers can and do play an important role in estate planning. Much like other members of blended families, it is important to address the role a stepmother will play when it comes to your comprehensive estate plan. Recently, Forbes published an article noting that stepmothers are often associated with challenges to an estate plan. This makes sense because, as the article notes, statistics show women live longer and often outlive their husbands. Understanding the source of some of these challenges and working with an attorney to help prevent them can be beneficial for everyone involved.

Late-In-Life Marriages and Estrangement

A common presumption when it comes to marriage that happen later in life is that one person is solely in the marriage for an inheritance, especially if such a marriage is subject to a significant age difference. Such marriages can stand to alienate children, though such alienation can occur with remarriages at any age.

There are a number of important factors to consider when it comes to comprehensive estate planning. Every family has unique needs, and every estate plan is different and designed in a way that best meets those needs. However, many estate plans include life insurance as an important component of ensuring loved ones are taken care of. While life insurance can be an important part of an estate plan, it is important to plan appropriately to make sure you can make the most out of your life insurance policy.

Life Insurance and Estate Tax

The new tax bill has raised the estate tax threshold quite a bit by doubling it to an individual threshold of $10 millions and a married threshold of around $20 million, with the actual number dependent in some part on inflation. The change in the law is not permanent, either. In fact, it will expire in 2025 absent further action by Congress.

You are always told that you can leave whatever assets you want in your will to whomever you want. After all it is your last will and testament. Your will represents your final wishes and they are to be carried out to the letter. You may be shocked to learn that in some cases under New York law that your will can actually be disregarded almost in its entirety, and that special case comes into play if you do not leave anything to your spouse.

Sacred Institution, Sacred Inheritance Rights

Marriage holds a special place in society and the laws of New York not only reflect that distinctive position but also protects the institution of marriage. Under New York’s Estate Powers and Trusts law section 5-1.1, a surviving spouse has the right to collect assets from a deceased spouse’s estate if the deceased spouse’s will either does not provide for the surviving spouse or does not give enough to the surviving spouse. It does not matter if the will has bequeathed those assets to someone else; the surviving spouse’s rights to the property trumps all others.

Grantor retained annuity trust (GRATs) are tremendous tools not just for the ultra wealthy, such as Mark Zuckerberg and the other founders of facebook, it is an estate planning technique that allows for a trust grantor to avoid paying gift taxes on the assets that they place into the trust with the intention that they will pass that asset on to the next generation. They are ideal for any asset that will likely quickly appreciate in value and that will also pay a dividend. Most people automatically think of stocks, which makes sense, but it could also include real estate, patents, trademarks or other intellectual property or even a valuable piece of art or perhaps even valuable machinery or some other object that can be rented.


To create a GRAT, a person places their property into the trust and pays tax on the property at that time, with the lower value. The trust is structured such that during the life of the trust the grantor received an annuity payment from the corpus of the trust. If the grantor is alive at the end of the trust term, the beneficiary receives the property tax free. The grantor sets the term for a number of years for the GRAT to exist in advance. Basis is a tricky and can be a very beneficial advantage to use of the GRAT because the GRAT allows the grantor to substitute two different assets of the same value but different basis amounts at any time. Since the grantor paid from an annuity during the life of the trust, the grantor still enjoys largely the same benefits.

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