Archive for the ‘Estate Planning’ Category

Choosing Your Legacy by Incorporating Charitable Giving Into Estate Planning

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

It is a common — and admirable — to want to leave a financial legacy by giving to charity after you have passed. When incorporating philanthropy into an estate plan, there are different ways to meet your goals. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you decide on the best options to maximize your gift and the potential benefits for your estate too.

Deciding Which Causes to Support

The first step of philanthropy in any form is choosing where to give your gift. This might be simple if you have already supported specific charities, institutions or causes throughout life, or difficult to narrow down if there is a list of causes you love. Perhaps you are just starting to think about giving and unsure of where to begin.

Either way, there are a few questions to ask yourself to help you decide:

  • What am I most passionate about?
  • Which issues do I want to address for those who survive me and future generations?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?

Whenever there is a potential recipient of your donation, research is key. Always check to be sure that a charity or organization is legitimate and that your values align with those of the organization. You also may want to know specifically how your gift will be used.

Planning Your Giving

Littman Krooks Elder LawOnce you decide where to give, you have to think about what to give and how. Any cause will accept a donation of cash. Others are able to receive real estate, stocks, valuables, collectibles (such as art) and even retirement accounts. Again, an estate planning attorney can help you look at the entirety of your assets and the value of your estate, so you can weigh options for giving.

There are different forms of giving in an estate plan, each with its own possible benefits. The most basic is naming a charitable cause as a beneficiary of a trust or in your will. You could also gift a retirement or other account or appreciated assets. These options have specific tax benefits and can reduce the amount of taxes paid by both the estate and the recipient of the money.

Another option is to create a private foundation. This is a good choice if you would like to start doing some of the charity work yourself and have it carried on by others after your passing. It also allows some control of how donations are given and used.

You also might consider a charitable gift annuity. This option provides you with an annual income from the total donation amount in life and then gifts the rest to the charity of choice upon death.

A New York Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

There are many more aspects of charitable giving and estate planning than can be covered quickly so it is important to speak with a financial advisor or estate planning attorney about your philanthropic goals. A member of the Littman Krooks estate planning team can assist you with any of your questions and needs. Contact us here or call us at 914-684-2100.

How to Discuss Estate Planning Without Unnecessary Drama

Friday, September 11th, 2020

Littman Krooks Retirement PlanningFamilies can usually agree on the importance of creating a New York estate plan. However, as crucial as having a comprehensive estate plan is, recent studies show that only a small percentage of couples – most of them older – have current estate planning documents in place. When those who do not have an estate plan are asked why that is the case, the most common response is that they are avoiding having a difficult conversation with their loved ones. For parents, this concern is primarily centered around not wanting to cause problems between siblings.

The first step toward drama-free estate planning is understanding what causes drama between siblings in the first place. Of course, parents cannot necessarily resolve existing sibling rivalries or long-standing disagreements between siblings, which can make the process more challenging. In addition, the estate planning process itself can cause other types of issues to arise. For example, siblings who may not communicate that often may be skeptical of the others’ motives; they may disagree on who should pay for final arrangements, or how assets should be divided. Parents can take specific steps to make the estate planning process easier and reduce the chance of starting arguments between their children.

Create a Financial Overview

littman krooks elder lawWhile a comprehensive estate plan provides a detailed explanation of where a couple wants their assets to end up after they pass on, it does little to explain to children what those assets are and where they are located. A financial overview solves this problem by providing a list of all family assets and their location. For example, parents may have bank or investment accounts that at least one child is unaware of. If a child believes assets are only made known to certain siblings, it can start to build resentment, which may grow over time. By sharing a financial overview with all children, parents can reduce the perception of favoritism.

A proper financial overview should include the following information:

  • A list of all assets, liabilities and insurance policies, as well as how they are titled and any named beneficiaries.
  • Contact information for all financial, legal and insurance professionals.
  • Usernames and passwords for all financial and insurance websites.
  • A legacy letter outlining the non-financial assets, such as family heirlooms, that parents want to pass on to their children.

By creating a financial overview, parents can not only make the estate administration process easier for the executor but can also reduce the chances of starting family conflict. However, ongoing and open communication will also be essential.

Schedule a Family Meeting

After parents create an estate plan and a financial overview, the next step is to schedule a family meeting. Both parents, as well as all children who will be inheriting assets, should attend the meeting. While ideally, family members would meet in person, if children live across the country or a family is concerned about maintaining social distance, a family meeting could be held virtually.

Topics to cover at the family meeting include:

  • Discussing the basics of the estate plan;
  • Ensuring at least one person knows the location of the estate planning documents;
  • Explaining who will be the executor of the estate, as well as any other necessary parties, such as trustees;
  • Discussing the importance of transparency and openness during the estate administration process;
  • Outlining the parents’ plan for important non-financial items, such as family heirlooms; and
  • Discussing the importance of keeping things fair and using the process to bring the family together.

For many parents, the process of discussing their estate plans with their children is a topic to be avoided. However, these are crucial conversations that must take place to increase the likelihood of a smooth and drama-free estate administration process.

Speak With a New York Estate Planning Lawyer for Immediate Assistance

Creating an estate plan to address your family’s unique needs is crucial to securing your legacy and ensuring that future generations are cared for. At the New York estate planning law firm, Littman Krooks, LLP, we have over 30 years of experience helping families effectively plan for their financial future. We pride ourselves in providing an exceptional level of service to individuals of varying net worth, helping our clients ensure that future generations are well taken care of and reducing the tax burdens on their estates. To learn more about how our dedicated team of attorneys can assist your family with its unique needs, call 914-684-1200 to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.

 

What Happens to the Family House?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

As if the death of parents is not hard enough, deciding what to do with their home often adds extra layers of complication.

In most cases there are three options to consider. You can sell the house, you can live in the house yourself or you can make the house an investment property and rent it out to others. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages but the best option for you should become clear after careful consideration.

Selling the House

This is the most common option, and under the best of circumstances offers a clean and profitable way out from under the parents’ house. Unfortunately, selling an inherited house can just as easily be difficult, stressful, drawn out and complicated by emotions and disagreements between siblings.

When selling, it is best to consult with an experienced local real estate agent as soon as possible. They will be able to advise on how the property would best be improved to sell quickly (such as which repairs to make before listing and when to leave something as it) and will give a realistic listing price based on comparable properties. There are also quick-sale companies that buy properties for less than market value but require no improvements or cleaning.

Renting the House

Making your inherited house an income property can be a smart move. You can keep your parents’ home and cover the costs associated with it and hopefully then some. The downside to renting your properties, however, is that you have to rent properties. Being a landlord can be a major hassle and potential problems are endless.

Moving In

This is a good choice for those who like the idea of living in the family home. If the property is not under mortgage it can be financially beneficial too, as long as other costs are taken into consideration, like monthly utilities and property taxes. If there are siblings who also have a stake in the house, you will likely need to buy out their shares. An attorney can advise on how this should be done.

Depending on the state of the home and your parents’ taste in decor, you could need to do some significant repairing and updating. This gets expensive, especially when added to the other costs that will inevitably come up, but the end result can be a home that is your own perfect mix of sentimental and updated.

Planning Is Key

Littman Krooks Elder LawHopefully, your parents already consulted an estate planning attorney, had a will and everyone involved in the estate was aware of the intended plan. The importance of planning ahead cannot be overstated; it can be the difference between a bitter, stressful ordeal and a relatively painless transition.

If you have not already and the option is still available, start a conversation with your parents as soon as you can. Disagreements between siblings, heavy emotions and a lifetime of accumulated stuff to contend with are extremely common when managing parents’ estate and can be traumatic. A little preparation goes a long way toward reducing at least some of the stress involved with inheriting a house.

The New York estate planning law firm of Littman Krooks, LLP combines extensive legal knowledge and experience with individual attention suited to each clients’ needs. For over 25 years, Littman Krooks attorneys have brought astute, honest counsel and strong, thorough representation to every client they have served. Reach Littman Krooks at https://www.littmankrooks.com/.

Three Tips for Caregiving From Afar

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

When distance comes between you and an aging parent or another loved one who needs extra help, it can be especially tough to become their caregiver. A caregiver who lives an hour or more away from their parent or loved one is considered a long-distance caregiver. Although this arrangement presents many difficulties, it can also be effective and beneficial for everyone involved with a few special considerations.

New rules enacted to stop the spread of COVID-19 have made some local caregivers into, effectively, long-distance caregivers too. Social distancing and quarantine efforts kept some caregivers away for safety’s sake and shut nursing homes, hospitals and other care facilities down to outside visitors. In these cases, tips for long-distance caregivers might be useful too.

Stay Informed

Staying organized and informed is really important when you are not there in person. This cuts down on unnecessary stress and confusion and makes talking to multiple medical professionals or other caregivers easier. Keep a list of all of your loved one’s medical conditions, medications, doctors, appointments and anything else that is relevant to their care. Be sure to update this list often and to research anything with which you are unfamiliar. Take detailed notes during appointments and phone calls with other care providers.

You will need to prepare a few legal documents in order for medical staff to share information about your loved one with you. A HIPPAA Authorization form provides written consent for this. You may also want to have a medical power of attorney document prepared so you would be able to make decisions for your loved one in the event that they are unable to do so for themselves.

Collaborate With Others

Especially when there are multiple people involved in caregiving, complicated medical needs and other family members who are concerned about how your loved one is doing, sharing information and communicating often is key. Make copies of your lists and notes about your loved one’s health for other family members and caregivers or start a shared online document that can be edited as needed. Becoming the sole recorder and keeper of this information creates unnecessary stress and even resentment so, if possible, share the effort.

It is important to stay in touch with your loved one’s doctors and other professionals. Conference calls or meetings involving members of the care team, caregivers and family members streamlines the information sharing process.

Connect With Your Loved One

Being a long-distance caregiver usually means that visits cannot occur as often as you would like. Planning can keep visits productive and enjoyable, so you and your loved one can make the best of your time together.

Whether physical distance or new social distancing guidelines are keeping you apart, technology creates new ways to keep in touch and have fun with your loved one. Getting them a phone or tablet — and providing the lessons on how to use it — give a direct line of communication. You can use it to video chat, text, play games together and send pictures, all of which can keep feelings of loneliness away.

The New York estate planning law firm of Littman Krooks, LLP combines extensive legal knowledge and experience with individual attention suited to each clients’ needs. For over 30 years, Littman Krooks attorneys have brought astute, honest counsel and strong, thorough representation to every client they have served. Reach Littman Krooks at https://www.littmankrooks.com/.

 

The Sandwich Generation: Caring for Both Kids and Parents

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Littman Krooks elder lawAs the demographics of American society change the needs of each generation evolve along with them, one unique group of people is growing especially quickly — the sandwich generation, or those who are responsible for the care of both their minor children and their aging parents. Typically, this is a person in their late thirties to fifties with the average unpaid family caregiver being a 49-year-old woman.

Although this situation presents many challenges, there are ways to reduce some of the stress when caregivers are stretched thin between different care obligations in addition to their careers, money and life in general.

Planning is one of the best ways to protect both the finances and sanity of caregivers and parents alike. Although it may be uncomfortable, it is important to have a conversation about the future care of aging parents, their finances and future medical care before they are unable to fully participate. With a clear idea of what they have and want, no one will have figure it out while in the midst of an unexpected health crisis or major expense.

Another aspect of planning is organization. Keep important documents together and an inventory of assets for parents. If certain legal documents do not exist yet, consult an experienced estate planning attorney to make them for everyone involved. An attorney can help everyone understand that estate planning is more than just making a will and should be done for the old and the young. Also, having a designated executor, medical and durable power of attorney, and healthcare directive can save everyone significant stress.

Money is likely one of the biggest issues for the sandwich generation, as they feel obligated to contribute to both the cost of care for parents and for college and other costs for their children while also saving for their own retirement. With costs always on the rise, this can be overwhelming. Remember that prioritizing personal savings for retirement is important, not doing so will increase the risk of someday having to rely on children who likely will have their own families and expenses.

Coping with retirement planning, estate planning and childcare is not an easy task. Contact one of the experienced attorneys at Littman Krooks today if you need assistance with any estate planning needs.

 

 

Learn more about elder lawestate planning and special needs planning at http://www.elderlawnewyork.com  & www.littmankrooks.com. Have questions about this article? Contact us.


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A Message to Our Clients and Our Littman Krooks Family

Friday, March 13th, 2020
Dear Client and Friends, 
At Littman Krooks, the health and safety of our clients and staff is our highest priority. We pride ourselves on exemplary and individualized services to our clients. We are writing to provide you with the steps that we are taking to protect you and our staff against the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID19). We understand the paramount importance of these tasks, as we serve many elderly clients and families with children with health concerns.
Steps We are Taking To Protect You and Our Staff:
  • We are maintaining social distancing, which means that we will not be shaking hands, hugging or touching anyone.
  • Hand sanitizer is available in our reception area and we are asking you to apply a generous amount to both of your hands upon entry to our office.
  • Staff know to wash their hands each time they enter our building before touching anything and frequently throughout the day.
  • We have remote access for employees who are ill or need to work from home.
  • If you or someone you have been in contact with is experiencing symptoms of coughing, high fever and/or shortness of breath, we ask that you not come to our office.
  • If you do not feel comfortable visiting our office in person, because you may be sick or for any other reason, please consider meeting with us virtually either via conference call or through FaceTime or similar service. Call our office at (914) 684-2100 to let us know that you would like to change your meeting to a virtual one. Our staff will be happy to assist.
Protect Yourself and Those Around You: We encourage all to follow basic hygiene measures that protect us from respiratory viruses. As the Center For Disease Control recommends, these actions include:
  • Washing your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying at home if you are feeling sick, especially if you have a fever, are coughing and/or have shortness of breath. If you have those symptoms, please seek medical care early.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze and, if using a tissue, dispose of it immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and water.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces by using disinfectant spray or wipes.
Extra Protections for Those at Higher Risk: If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, meaning if you are older or have a health condition, you should:
  • Stock up on supplies.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
We thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we navigate this challenging time. We understand that the situation is evolving and we will continue to actively monitor it and take the necessary precautions. Our firm remains dedicated to providing our clients with the highest level of client service in every way possible
For additional information regarding the Coronavirus, here are resources from the CDC and the New York State Department of Health:

October Is National Estate Planning Awareness Month

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Estate planning is a crucial life management and wealth preservation activity for adults of all ages and all income levels.

Across the United States, October is National Estate Planning Awareness Month, an educational campaign intended to focus attention on the importance of having a plan to care for family members and manage accumulated wealth in old age and following death.

Just 4 in 10 adults in the United States have a will or trust. Estate planning is crucial for people of any age or income status. Parents with young children need to have a plan in place — at a minimum, a designated guardian and instructions conveyed in a trust — in the event of an unexpected death or disability.

senior couple planningFor everyone else, estate plans should be created to address tax avoidance issues, property management, asset protection, wealth distribution and health care decisions in the event of cognitive decline or disability prior to death.

Without a will or trust in place, important decisions about the care of young children and distribution of property at death will be made by a judge, often following a contested and expensive legal proceeding.

Estate Planning Awareness Month is a great time for everyone to take stock of their estate plans and financial health. If there is already an estate plan in place, now might be a good time to review it. If there is none in place now is the time get started:

  1. Define goals. Decide how any family responsibilities and property will be managed in the event of disability or death.
  2. Gather and organize data. Take inventory of all assets and title held to them. Identify any beneficiaries.
  3. Implement an estate plan. Develop a strategy — ideally with the assistance of a financial or estate planning professional — for managing and distributing the estate. Consider drafting the following documents: designation of guardian, will, trust, power of attorney and health care directives.
  4. Monitor and make changes if necessary. Life circumstances change, so do tax and probate laws. Mark the calendar to review estate plans annually.

For a detailed explanation of the measures necessary to create a sound estate plan, consult the comprehensive estate planning resources available at the Littman Krooks website.

National Estate Planning Awareness Month is a nationwide public education campaign first launched in 2008. With sound estate planning, individuals and their families can maintain financial security during their lifetimes and ensure the efficient, intended transfer of assets following death.

 

Learn more about elder lawestate planning and special needs planning at littmankrooks.com,  elderlawnewyork.com  & specialneedsnewyork.com. Have questions about this article? Contact us.


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Caregivers Need Care Too—How to Help, Effectively

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Littman Krooks Elder LawCaring for a loved one is a labor of love, very often with an emphasis on the work. Caregivers bear an incredible weight in making sure that their loved one is getting what they need while their own life is put on hold. Burnout is common. 

 

With good intentions and a little forethought though, a small amount of kindness to a caregiver can go a long way. The key to being an effective helper is to act with the caregiver in mind, to give them what they want, not what you think they need.

 

Get Personal

 

If you know the caregiver and have an idea of their situation and what they enjoy, you can focus on something from which you know they would benefit. For example, if they have always taken pride in their yard but have not been able to find time to take care of it as well as they usually do, ask if you can weed the garden or cut the grass (or hire someone who can). If they have a hobby, help them be able to do that activity by caring for their loved one or by performing other tasks. If you do not know the person well, you can ask someone who does what they would enjoy or offer something that is generally enjoyable or helpful. 

 

Be prepared for them to decline your offer caregivers may not want to burden anyone or feel awkward about accepting help. You may need to offer again later and remind them that you want to help.

 

You may need to be creative in how you facilitate giving them a hand. If they are anxious or unable, to leave the person they care for, then try to figure out how to accommodate that. Otherwise, your offer to help may cause more stress than good.

 

Show Up

 

Forget about asking the caregiver to let you know when/if they need anything. Chances are good that they will either never ask or have no clue how to respond to an open-ended request. Instead, make a specific offer and follow through. 

 

A small break from the endless responsibility of being a caregiver can be very refreshing. Take something off the caregiver’s plate. Pick up some groceries or an indulgent treat and drop it off to them. Sit and listen to them talk. Help with chores. Watch a movie together. There is no need to spend money or obsess over what to do. Simple, thoughtful gestures are often enough and very much appreciated.

 

Learn more about our elder law  estate planning or Medicaid Planning services. Contact us with additional questions.  


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Is Your Estate Plan Up To Date?

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

By: Amy C. O’Hara, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

In order to ensure your existing estate plan meets your objectives, it is imperative that it be reviewed at least every 3-5 years and updated when needed.  Here are some issues that might necessitate updating your estate plan:

  • You want to avoid probate;
  • You or a beneficiary become disabled or have a long-term illness;
  • Death of a beneficiary;
  • Marriage, divorce or remarriage;
  • Birth or adoption of a child;
  • Death or change of executor, trustee, and/or guardian;
  • A change in the distribution of your estate;
  • A significant increase or decrease in your net worth;
  • Retirement;
  • Expecting to change state of domicile; and
  • Finally, any time you feel uneasy about any of your documents, making changes and/or speaking with your estate planning lawyer to make you feel comfortable with them.

Never make any changes on your current estate planning documents.  Mark-outs, interlineations and other informal changes are of no effect and will not be honored during an illness or after your death.  It is important to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer to ensure you estate plan is updated properly to protect you and your loved ones.

 

Learn more about our elder law  estate planning or Medicaid Planning services. Contact us with additional questions.  


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National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

By Lou Giampa, President, Right at Home Westchester

If you were a European warrior or religious pilgrim on the way to Jerusalem during the Middle Ages, chances are you lodged at a “hospes house” on the arduous journey. The holy orders of knights such as the Hospitallers and Templars ran these travel lodges named after the Latin word that means both “guest” and “host.” Over time, hospes houses expanded to offer care for the sick and dying. Derived from “hospes,” our modern-day word “hospice” is known as a place for the dying or the practice of end-of-life care. Littman Krooks Elder Law

Part of hospice services may include palliative care, the medical specialty of alleviating pain and improving the quality of life of the seriously ill. Hospice care begins after health treatment for an illness has stopped and the patient is considered terminal. Palliative care can begin as soon as a patient is diagnosed with a serious illness and can continue while the individual pursues a cure. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month to help raise awareness of the skilled, compassionate care that both disciplines offer. The campaign’s 2017 theme is “It’s About How You Live.”

How Does Hospice and Palliative Care Work?

Hospice providers alone care for more than 1.6 million Americans and their families annually. While hospice does involve caring for the terminally ill, hospice care is more than seeing someone through their final days. An integrated team of healthcare professionals and trained volunteers work together to manage pain, control symptoms, and bolster emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice teams ensure patients and their loved ones find support, respect and dignity along the difficult path of a life-limiting illness.

Interdisciplinary palliative care teams are typically comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and physical and occupational therapists who assist with the pain of cancer, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and other chronic diseases or disorders.

“Hospice and palliative care are a vital means of comfort and support but are not synonymous,” said Lou Giampa, President of Right at Home Westchester. “Palliative care offers a holistic approach to helping reduce the suffering of anyone with a serious, chronic or life-threatening illness, not just those who are dying. As death draws near, palliative care often segues into hospice.”

Hospice serves those with a terminal diagnosis in their homes or at freestanding hospice centers, nursing homes, in-patient care facilities and hospitals. Hospice teams primarily serve in a patient’s home because most end-of-life individuals prefer to pass in their own home surroundings. Hospice care is available to any patient of any age, race, religion or illness. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization notes that hospice services “focus on caring, not curing” and “hospice is not ‘giving up,’ nor is it a form of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.” Instead, hospice care helps patients and their families embrace life as fully as possible. In some cases, hospice patients rally to make a full recovery.

Who Qualifies for Hospice and Palliative Care?

Most Medicaid, Medicare and private health insurance plans cover palliative and hospice services. Hospice care covered by Medicare requires that a person receive a prognosis of living six months or less, but there is not a six-month limit on hospice care services. A patient with a doctor’s certification of terminal illness may receive hospice support for as long as necessary.

Any person with a serious illness can benefit from palliative support, which emphasizes the quality of life for the whole person including one’s relationships. Palliative care may include educating family members and caregivers on the patient’s illness, treatment plans and medications. Palliative services ease the symptoms or side effects of an illness including:

  • Pain
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Depression and hopelessness

“The majority of U.S. medical schools now offer hospice and palliative care programs and are instructing medical students in these specialized branches of pain management and end-of-life care,” explained Giampa. “It is important to work alongside a care client to develop and tailor a care plan and strategy that meets their own goals, values and needs. Our Right at Home caregivers support a range of hospice and palliative services for everyday needs, such as personal care, meal preparation and light housekeeping. Hospice and palliative medicine means skilled, compassionate teams working together for the good of the care client and the family.”

For more information about person-centered care or cognitive support, visit the local Right at Home office at www.westchesterseniorcare.com.

 

Learn more about elder lawestate planning and special needs planning at littmankrooks.com,  elderlawnewyork.com  & specialneedsnewyork.com. Have questions about this article? Contact us.


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