The Legal Dos and Don’ts of Real Estate

A well-maintained house surrounded by greenery

Buying and owning property is mostly an exciting and fulfilling life experience. The only aspects of it that can feel dry and boring are the legal ones, which include everything from drawing up the initial deed to including it in your final will to be passed on after your death.

Of all the things you include in your estate plan—life insurance, bank accounts, jewelry, art/collectibles, investments, and furniture—the most important is your property, be it a residential house or a vacation home, or even a rental property. For your loved ones to enjoy these the same even after your death, you need to make sure all the legalities are in place.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while handling real estate:

DO: Place the Vacation Home in A Revocable Trust

If you want the next generation to truly enjoy the vacation home without carrying the baggage of legalities and responsibilities they didn’t exactly sign up for, placing it in a trust should help.

Firstly, it would escape lengthy probate. Secondly, you can specify exactly how you want the vacation home to be used and maintained during and after your life with a trust. And most importantly, with smart estate planning—we’re talking Qualified Personal Residence Trust, of course—you could also save estate tax significantly.

A vacation home near a lake

DON’T: Skip Out on A Will

Making a will may seem like a hassle, especially because it isn’t really necessary to pass down real estate. However, legal experts highly recommend it because it makes the whole process ever so easier.

Without a will, your property will still get passed on to your immediate heirs and relatives based on the law in your state, but in case you want a say in who ends up with what exactly, making a will is the only way to do it.

Through a will, you can keep the property from being split up, divide it the way you wish, or even pass it down to someone outside the family.

DO: Get A Property Lawyer on Board

From the moment you purchase the property to the time of your death, you need professional expertise on how to go about its legal paperwork in order to keep things streamlined.

There are many different kinds of deeds, and you may not know the ins and outs of each kind, so having a property lawyer to reviews and prepare the deed with you is a good step. Similarly, when you’re including your real estate in the estate plan, you need to have legal counsel to ensure that the property can pass on to your loved ones with minimal legal hurdles after your death.

So, if you’re in the process of creating an estate plan, get the experts on board.

We’re a real property law firm Queens, and our Estate lawyer Queens  can help make complicated legal procedures easier for you.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our legal services.

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”

Protecting Yourself from Home Title Theft

Home title theft is a form of identity theft, and many people suffer from it every year. Scammers and thieves tend to keep an eye out for vacation homes, properties belonging to the deceased, and other vulnerable aspects of the home that they can exploit. Continue reading “Protecting Yourself from Home Title Theft”

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”

Administrator Removal: How to Do It the Legal Way

Very often, it happens that the beneficiaries aren’t satisfied with an administrator. Whether they aren’t happy with how they handle the probate process or how they breach their fiduciary duties, this can become a ground for removing an administrator.

Law books next to a gavel and a sounding block

But do beneficiaries have the right to challenge the administrator’s actions in court? Can heirs request the removal or replacement of an administrator?

This blog gives you an insight into whether beneficiaries can legally remove a personal representative or not and how they can go about this legal process.

Beneficiaries Right to Administrator Removal

While the deceased person or the court might have nominated an executor or administrator, the beneficiaries do have the right to request their removal/replacement. The beneficiaries need to sign a petition, asking the court to review and replace the administrator or executor’s appointment.

The court itself has the power to analyze the administrator’s performance and replace them if the need arises.

The Need for a Valid Reason

While the beneficiaries have the right to call for the removal of an administrator, they need a valid reason for this petition. Beneficiaries are required by law to submit documents and evidence with regards to the administrator’s misconduct. Beneficiaries can submit this petition on the following grounds:

  • Disputes with beneficiaries
  • Disputes with co-executors
  • Misconduct
  • Breaching fiduciary duties
  • Mismanagement of estate
  • Using estate funds for personal interests
  • Not complying with the court’s orders

The heirs or the beneficiaries should provide strong evidence to support their petition. Moreover, in some cases, they can also submit a petition for a new administrator’s appointment.

A courthouse building with pillars

Once the petition has been submitted along with the required evidence, the court reviews the request. If the jury finds the executor or the administrator guilty of misconduct or having disputes with heirs or other executors, they can replace the personal representatives. The court may suspend them from their fiduciary duties and issue a citation for a new administrator’s appointment.

A probate lawyer can streamline the probate process for you. At Ledwidge & Associate, P.C., we have some of the most competent lawyers in Queens and Brooklyn, New York. Whether you want to hire a probate attorney Queens and probate attorney Brooklyn or need to get in touch with a litigation attorney, our lawyers will be your best bet! We have years of experience in dealing with legal cases and coming up with practical solutions that are in line with the state’s laws.

Give us a call at 347-395-4799 to discuss and solve your legal affairs.

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.

Your Will & Pension: What You Should Know

The will you make should ideally include details for how you would want all your assets to be settled and distributed amongst all your beneficiaries. People will add the different properties they own, the liquid money and valuables they have, and the money they expect to get to be distributed.

Most people would expect that money owed to you from your workplace would also end up in the same assets pile, but that’s not necessarily the case. The way your pension is moved around and if you’re able to pass it forward depends on a lot of different factors. Let’s have a look at what they are.

Old man giving thumbs up

The Type of Pension

A major factor for whether you’ll be able to pass on your pension depends on what type of pension plan you have set up. Essentially there are two major types of pension plans that can be transferred to someone else.

You have the standard “Fixed Benefit” plan, which is a company-sponsored pension. This plan is a tax-free, company-sponsored fund that’s calculated on time served with the company and how much your salary was. The other option is a “Fixed Contribution” plan that relies on employees putting a bit of their own salary in a tax-free account, and the number is matched by their employer.

Person counting money

Who can Inherit a Pension?

Unlike your other assets, it’s not as easy to just give the money you have in your pension account away to any living friend or family member through your will. Pensions often come with a lot of legal terms attached to them that dictate where the money can go. Many pension plans are for one person only and may actually be wasted if you pass away before you claim it.

If you have the sort of pension plan that would allow you to transfer it forward, you would still only be able to give it to either your spouse or child officially. You may want to review what yours allows with the help of a litigation lawyer or an estate law attorney.

Claiming your Funds

To add the funds to your will, you would need a combination of the right factors, which would include things like your company’s policies on transferring pensions, your type of pension plan, and if you’ve been working long enough to actually get the pension claim, among a few other things.

The whole process can still be quite messy and hard to figure out. Getting help from a professional from our team can make the whole process easier. With our experienced probate attorney Queens and probate attorney Brooklyn and estate law attorney in Queens, we can help with any issues that come up regarding your will.

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!