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

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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”

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.

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.