May 27, 2020

Staying Safe – Don’t Put Your Estate Planning on Hold

All Estate Planning

Take care of the basics While you should always have your estate planning documents in place, these uncertain times make it that much more important.  Review and update your health care proxy and living will to make sure you have the right person designated to make medical decisions for you.  Review your power of attorney to ensure your agent can make financial decisions should the need arise.  Review your current Will or your revocable trust to make sure that disposition of your assets still meets your wishes.  Depending how your assets are titled, not all of them might pass under… Read more


Mar 11, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Your Charity

According to Giving USA, in 2017 Americans contributed $410.02 billion to charity, crossing the $400 billion mark for the first time. Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $286.65 billion and $45.89 billion was gifted to foundations. There are over 1.5 million charitable organizations in the U.S., predominantly public charities and private foundations. A public charity receives most of its support from the general public. A private foundation, on the other hand, usually receives its support from one source – an individual, family, or corporation. Private Foundations The primary activity of a private foundation (as opposed to a private operating foundation)… Read more


Jun 29, 2017

The Prospect of Estate Tax Repeal: What to Do Now

Estate Tax Repeal

With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the prospect of tax reform, and specifically repeal of the Federal estate tax has become more plausible. Repeal of the Federal estate and generation-skipping transfer tax was part of the “Blueprint” for tax reform announced by Republicans in June 2016. Predicting what will happen, when it will happen, and what form it will take are difficult.  If repeal occurs: Will repeal happen all at once, or be phased in? Will the gift tax also be repealed? Will repeal be “permanent?” Or will it “sunset,” much like… Read more


Apr 16, 2013

You Are Not Finished With Your 2012 Gifting Until You File Your Gift Tax Return

Authored by: Neeli G. Shah Many opportunistic taxpayers rushed to make year-end gifts during 2012. As a result, a record number of 2012 gift tax returns are expected to be filed in 2013. These returns were due yesterday, April 15, 2013, although the due date can be automatically extended by six months.  The importance of accurately reporting and timely filing a 2012 gift tax return should not be understated, even if no gift tax is expected to be due.  This is especially true if you made gifts to a trust for the benefit of your grandchildren; gift-split with your spouse;… Read more


Jan 4, 2012

From Super Committee to Sensible Estate Tax and Beyond…

Authored by: Neeli Shah, Esq. In light of Congress’s recent quest to find new sources of revenue and the looming changes to the estate and gift tax regimes, the time to focus on estate planning to make optimum use of current planning opportunities is now.  Super-Committee On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 created the Super Committee, whose sole mission was to find new sources of revenue in their quest to reduce the U.S. deficit.  The estate and gift tax regimes were expected to be its prime target.  In early November, there was significant speculation (in the… Read more


Aug 10, 2010

The Future of Estate Planning For Same Sex Couples

Authored by: Michael C. Levy, Esq. In early June, we discussed the movement towards federal tax equality for same sex couples created by an IRS ruling on California domestic partnerships.  At the time, we cautioned that while the ruling opened the door to tax equality, several obstacles still needed to be overcome for true equality to exist.  Since then, two rulings by District Court judges have been handed down that may soon clear the way for same sex couples to share the same tax rights (and obligations) as other married couples. A pair of cases before the United States District… Read more


Jun 23, 2010

Case Law Trend Continues To Lessen The Bite of In Terrorem Clauses

Authored by: Paul J. Sowell, Esq. The Court of Appeals decision in Matter of Singer, 13 NY2d 447 (2009) supports the growing case law trend that an in terrorem clause does not necessarily foreclose a disgruntled beneficiary from conducting discovery relevant to determining the validity of a Will. The decedent, Rabbi Joseph Singer, executed a last will and testament dated April 15, 2003, which contained two in terrorem clauses. The first clause applied generally to all beneficiaries while the second applied specifically to his son, Alexander. The first in terrorem clause stated: “If any beneficiary shall, in any manner, directly… Read more


Jun 21, 2010

Georgia Court Denies Child Born Out of Wedlock ‘Lawfulness’ Under Her Father’s Will

Authored by: Michael C. Levy, Esq. The importance of carefully drafted language in estate planning documents increases as the types of potential takers from an estate becomes more complex and varied.  This is especially true when the testator of a will or grantor of a trust has children from previous marriages or born out of wedlock.  A recent Georgia ruling illustrates how conflicting and confusing language may force a court to determine the testator’s intent to the possible detriment of one or more children. In Hood v. Todd, the Supreme Court of Georgia were tasked with determining whether a child… Read more


May 25, 2010

Drafting Gone Bad

Authored by: Paul J. Sowell, Esq. The importance of careful drafting of estate planning documents cannot be overstated.  The case of In re Gullo, N.Y.L.J., July 6, 2009, P. 37 (Sur. Ct., Suffolk co.) is representative of what can go wrong when an estate planning scrivener drafts imprecisely. The petitioner in the case, Paula Gullo, received the following bequest under the decedent’s Will: “I give, devise and bequeath to my daughter, PAULA GULLO, a life estate in 78 Bartlett Drive, Manhasset, New York, or any other principal residence which I may own at the time of my death. The life… Read more