Why You Can’t Sleep on Estate Planning

A person working on some documents

If you ask a person what they want to be remembered for when they’re gone, they’re most likely to say something sentimental like the memories of their loved ones or the legacy they’re leaving behind in the form of their children or their life’s work. But let’s be real. Continue reading “Why You Can’t Sleep on Estate Planning”

3 Mistakes Made During Estate Planning

Whether you have a large estate or a modest one, as the owner, you must settle all of your affairs while you still have the ability to do so. There are various issues and common mistakes that people make when it comes to estate planning. This blog will go over some of the issues to watch out for: Continue reading “3 Mistakes Made During Estate Planning”

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Taxes

Estate taxes can balloon significantly, but certain techniques can always help you bring down the payable amount. These are within the legal parameters as well, so you can easily take them on without worrying. Here are some of the most commonly recommended ones: Continue reading “3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Taxes”

5 Considerations to Make During Estate Planning

writing down a checklist on his notepad

Estate planning involves designating individuals who will be passed down your assets and who will handle your asset related responsibilities. Continue reading “5 Considerations to Make During Estate Planning”

3 Common Mistakes Made by Executors

Being an executor is not as easy a role as one might assume. An executor has to deal with the loss of a loved one while simultaneously trying to get their will implemented and their estate distributed. The whole process involves a lot of legal leg work and documentation; so, it’s actually quite easy to make mistakes along the way.

Seeing as when you become an executor you gain legal authority to finalise a person’s affairs, it would be best to get into the role after some preparation. To help you along, we’re going to go through some of the more common mistakes that executors make.

Hopefully, this can save you some time and minimize the stress that comes with the job.

A Pile of Folders with Paperwork

Properly Probating the Will

It may be surprising, but some of the bigger mistakes are made right at the beginning.

A lot of people who might not know about court proceedings will try and turn toward a legal professional, but it’s important to know who’s help you should be enlisting. You might think the best course of action is to turn to an estate law attorney, but that’s not the correct call. You should enlist the help of a probate attorney instead.

Wills need to be proved in probate court, and while an estate attorney may be better at handling distributions of the property, they aren’t the best people to take to court to get the will testified. The right attorney can prepare the will and all supporting documents to ensure the next phase can begin smoothly.

Making Timely Payments

This mistake may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but it’s entirely possible to pay the bills too quickly. Executors usually begin getting invoices and bills on behalf of the deceased, and many would think the best course of action is to begin paying them immediately.

Instead, you should first take stock of all the bills and sort them by priority. Money owed to government bodies and tax departments should be the first ones paid off, and then you should move to lower-level bills for services and such.

Executors can be held legally responsible for being unable to make such payments on the deceased behalf. Getting rid of bigger liabilities first means you will not run out of money once the IRS comes calling.

A Man signs legal documents with a pen

Moving the Process Along

Trying to get through with your executor responsibilities as soon as possible is probably the wrong way to do things. The process of distributing an estate is quite lengthy and will take you the better part of 6 to 9 months to complete properly. Trying to rush things often results in legal liabilities that the executor can actually be sued for.

It’s ideal to take things slowly and plan a list of what needs to be done in a professional manner. If you require a specialist estate law attorney Brooklyn and estate law attorney Queens or a probate attorney in Queens, you can get in touch with us.

What You Should Know about Separating Estate Plans After a Divorce

A divorce lawyer helping a person separate and update their estate after divorce.

Going through a divorce isn’t easy. There are several legal matters that you have to consider before you file for one. While planning for the future is the top priority for couples filing for a fault or no-fault divorce, it’s also imperative to sort out your estate plans before or immediately after a divorce petition is filed.

Once your divorce is filed and finalized by the court, don’t delay separating all your relevant estate planning materials. Also, it’s vital that you update your estate plan after you marry someone else or if you have children from a second or prior marriage.

Why is it important to update your estate plan?

If you don’t separate your estate plan after a divorce, your former spouse or their immediate family still has the right to take on a large portion of your estate after your death, leaving a smaller portion for your family members or children.

Even if you don’t want your former spouse to have a portion of your estate, it may happen if you don’t spell out your intentions and wishes in your estate plan. The majority of American states don’t allow former spouses to inherit real estate under a Last Will and Testament. However, they can still inherit other assets in the estate plan.

An Example to Help You Learn 

A woman in New York passed away in 2010 after she divorced her husband a few years earlier. Her estate plan (before her death) stated that her spouse should inherit her home, along with all other assets.

She had further specified that her father-in-law be the secondary beneficiary to her residential property. While New York’s law kept her former husband from taking over the home, her father-in-law could still inherit it as the second beneficiary.

Her children claimed to the probate court that their mother put forward another will, in which she removed her father-in-law’s rights on her property. However, her children were never able to find the second will, and as a result, the court ruled in favor of her former husband’s father.

What to do after your divorce is finalized?

After your divorce, here are some things you must do:

  • Update all the documents that are relevant to estate planning
  • Create a new will and redo the old one
  • Provide your family members and children with a copy of the new and the updated will
  • Find another probate attorney to help with estate planning and make sure your attorney works for your best interests.
  • Update all your bank accounts, individual retirement accounts, trusts, annuities, and life insurance policies to remove your former spouse as a beneficiary

 

For more advice on separating your estate and updating documents relevant to estate planning after a divorce, get in touch with the best probate attorney Queens or probate attorney Brooklyn.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for an experienced divorce lawyer Brooklyn, divorce lawyer Queens, or any other area in NYC, feel free to reach out to the law office of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. today!

Debt and Probate: What You Need to Know

A sample of last will and testament with a section about debt payment.

Most people have their legacies, properties, and assets on their minds when drafting their Testament and Last Will. But several other things must be considered and specified in an estate plan.

For example, specifying what happens to your outstanding debts or those of a loved one after they pass away is crucial. If you owed a loan or debt in your lifetime, your family will be responsible for paying for it, depending on your estate’s size and value and the type of the loan.

Is it important to notify creditors?

After a person passes away, their estate executor is responsible for informing the person or institution that provided the debt. While the trust doesn’t mandate that the executors notify the creditors of the debtor’s passing away, doing so will allow the creditors to come forward within a shorter period, and the payment process will be smoother. Once the creditors are notified, they are given a specified period to claim their takings against the estate. Each creditor will be paid for their part from the estate’s proceeds.

If the deceased person didn’t create an estate plan during their lifetime, the probate court then assigns an administrator, who is typically from the immediate family or a close relative. Like a trustee or an executor, an administrator appointed by the court is also authorized to pay the deceased person’s debts from the estate’s takings.

What if two persons are responsible for debt?

A sample of last will and testament with a section about debt payment.

In most mortgage cases, couples usually apply together. In this case, the surviving spouse or loan co-signer will be responsible for paying the debts. However, the probate court considers several factors before determining that the living partner should be paying for the joint debts. In some cases, selling the estate is enough to repay all the deceased’s outstanding debts, while in others, loan providers may settle on an amount lesser than the original debt.

 

A loved one’s death isn’t only emotionally turbulent, but it often also brings complicated financial and legal issues with it. An experienced and reliable probate attorney Queens or probate attorney Brooklyn can help you through each step of the process, from contesting and probating the will to removing an executor or administrator, ensuring complete protection of your rights.

If you’re looking for an experienced probate attorney in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, or other NYC areas, get in touch with the law office of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. today!

3 Key Reasons You Should Create an Estate Plans for Your Future

When we talk about estate planning, many people immediately associate it with the ultra-rich. However, contrary to popular belief, anyone can benefit from having an estate plan no matter what their net worth is. According to Forbes, only 42% of the adults in the United States currently have an estate plan such as a living trust or a will.

A note on paper with a fountain pen

While end-of-life planning can be depressing and seem morbid, it is essential to protect you, your assets, and your loved ones after you die. If you haven’t started drafting your estate planning documents yet, consider the following reasons why it is essential to talk to an estate law attorney as soon as possible to get the process started:

Avoid Complications

If a person dies without an estate plan, the matter of distribution of assets is passed on to the courts who handle everything from the distribution of the property, the dissolution of the business, and the guardianship of the children. The process is known as probate, and it can get seriously complicated and expensive. By preparing the documentation in advance, you can save your family and loved ones from numerous complications and legal issues after your death.

A parent walking with their child on a beach

Keep Your Children from Ending Up in Child Protective Services

It might be unpleasant to think about your death, but it is essential to take some time and consider what would happen to your children if you suddenly died. Where will they end up? Who will take care of them?

If you don’t have an estate plan that clearly mentions a guardian that you have chosen, your children will end up with Child Protective Services, while the courts decide the best candidate to be their legal guardians. The process can take a long time, and your kids could end up with someone who would be your last choice for a guardian. Staying with protective services for a long time can also have a negative emotional impact on your child during a very vulnerable time in their life.

Avoid Disputes

Not everyone cares about what happens to their wealth and assets after they have passed. However, not leaving an estate plan can result in huge disputes between family members regarding who gets what. This can create strong feelings of ill will between relatives and even break up families. By planning your estate documents, you save your family from making difficult decisions and eliminate the risk of any disputes by making the decision for them.

Get Legal Advice from Leading Estate Lawyers In New York

One of the best ways to avoid complications with your estate after your death is to hire an experienced estate lawyer to draw up the correct documents for you.

Ledwidge & Associates P.C. offers the services of leading estate law attorney Queens, estate law attorney Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, and the Bronx. We can help you protect your assets from exorbitant inheritance tax and ensure that your loved ones will be well taken care of through living wills and detailed estate planning documents.

Schedule a free case evaluation by calling us at 718-276-6656 and let us help you plan for your future!

Estate Planning: 3 Of The Most Common Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Almost 50% of U.S citizens over the age of 55 don’t have a will, which is surprising when you consider that this crucial document allows you to achieve in death what you’ve devoted your entire life to—taking care of those you love.drafting a will

This can be a huge problem for heirs, since the legal process of dividing an estate – known as probate – can take a huge financial and emotional toll if there’s no will in place.

With that being said, just creating a will isn’t enough to safeguard your assets, prevent family disputes, and protect your final wishes. You also have to ensure that the will you create is legally sound and binding.

Avoiding the following common mistakes is a good way to start.

Planning Just For Death

If your will only addresses the fate of your assets when you die, it’s not complete. A truly comprehensive will also address what happens while you’re still alive. This means it should contain legally-binding, detailed instructions that designate and guide caregivers if you can no longer make sound legal decisions because of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other health conditions.

Therefore, you should create financial and healthcare powers of attorney that can grant individuals the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf.

Ignoring Beneficiaries

A will represents just one of the ways in which properties and assets are divided after death. Beneficiary designations on insurance policies and financial accounts are another way, and the latter generally trumps the former.

For instance, if you want to bequeath all your property and assets to your new girlfriend, but your children are the designated beneficiaries on all your accounts, the statements in your will won’t count for anything.

Addressing Only Your Physical Assets

Forgetting about digital assets, such as email accounts, social media accounts, and online banking credentials, is a common mistake people make in the digital age. Some digital assets, such as particular photos, may hold some sentimental or financial value. Others, such as login credentials, can be abused if they fall into the wrong hands.

If you have an online presence, it’s vital that you bequeath your digital property and information in your will.

Ledwidge & Associates, P.C., is a leading legal firm that assists clients across New York with estate planning, Family Law Services Queens, Family Law Services Brooklyn, divorce, and probate law. If you require our services, get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.

Common Probate Issues

A probate lawyer in New York helping a client with the estate planning process.

According to Forbes, the COVID-19 crisis has forced US citizens to consider estate planning more seriously. As the crisis’s volatility continues to impact our everyday lives, wealth transfer has become more common.

Before you get down to business and start writing your will, here are a few problems that you might face in New York:

Will Contests

A will contest is a legal effort made to invalidate a will. Anyone can contest a will if it’s believed to be procured by fraud or forgery. You can also challenge a will if you have reasonable grounds to believe that the testator lacked the mental capacity to write a will or was made to sign it under duress. A will can also be invalidated if it’s outdated, and a more recent version of it exists or if it isn’t compliant with the state laws.

However, you can’t contest a will just because you don’t like its provisions and terms. Other than that, you also must be directly affected by its outcome to challenge it. A legal heir or a beneficiary can only contest the will. After a will is successfully contested, the court invalidates the entire will, instead of a single provision.

In either case, it’s not easy to contest a will because the entire process also translates into court expenses. Only an experienced probate attorney can simplify the process for you.

There Is No Written Will

This shouldn’t surprise you. 68% of Americans currently don’t have a written will. Dying ‘intestate’ will only complicate the matters for their surviving descendants. According to the state laws, when someone dies without a will, the court decides how the estate will be distributed.

When a New York resident dies without a will and no children, the surviving spouse usually inherits the estate. If there are more legal heirs, the surviving spouse only gets $50,000, and the rest is divided among the descendants. If there is no spouse, the entire estate is inherited by the descendants.

This is a problem because you might not want your estate to pass on to your surviving spouse, especially if you’re not on good terms. A large number of Americans prefer leaving their estate to charities. Your wishes will only be honored if you have a written will.

A deceased individual’s last will

The Executor Isn’t Carrying out Their Duties Well

An executor is the individual chosen to oversee the probate and honor the deceased’s wishes. Your chosen executor can step down from the role or choose not to have a say in how the estate is distributed. This usually happens when they take upon the duty without realizing the gravity of the responsibilities and pull out later. In this case, the court will check if you name a successor executor. If there isn’t one, the judge will appoint an estate administrator to carry out the probate duties.

With the right probe representations, none of these problems are too big. If you’re based in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Queens, The Law Offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. can help you out! Joseph Ledwidge Attorney  has around 20 years of experience in helping clients deal with complicated probate cases. Reach out for a free consultation.