Common Divorce Issues and Concerns for High Net Couples In New York

The divorce rate in the United States is quite high, with almost 40% to 50% of married couples in the country ending up divorced. According to the American Psychological Association, the divorce rate for second or subsequent marriages is even higher.

A couple removing their rings during divorce proceedings

Couples going through a divorce often have to deal with complicated issues involving property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. Many divorces end up in prolonged legal disputes with either party refusing to compromise and agree to the terms.

While no two divorces are the same, the issues regarding finances become even more complicated in cases with couples that have a high net worth.

Here are some of the most common issues faced during a high net worth divorce:

Prior Agreements

One of the first things divorce lawyers ask high net worth couples before starting the divorce settlement is whether there is a pre-nuptial agreement. Prenups are quite common in marriages where two people with high net worth are marrying, or a person with a lot of money is marrying someone with very little.

However, prenups aren’t always valid. The first thing lawyers need to do is to review the prenup to ensure the agreement is legally binding. If the prenup is valid, it will be used as a guideline for all issues, including property division and alimony, that have been clearly delineated in the agreement.

Child Support

Children of high net worth couples often have different financial needs such as private school tuitions, nannies, and additional classes such as ballet or piano lessons. This might result in additional child support payments compared to a typical divorce settlement. Another concern for high net couples is college tuition. Couples going through divorce might have to contribute to a trust that has been created to fund their child’s college tuition regardless of their age.

A luxury home of an affluent couple filled with antiques

Property Division

There are several challenges when dividing property among high net worth couples. Generally, any property acquired during the marriage gets equally distributed between the couple. However, most couples with high net worth have assets and individual property that they brought with them to the marriage and cannot be subjected to community property laws. High net worth couples also own household items that are quite high in value, such as antiques, artwork, and jewelry, which complicated the division of property.

Get Legal Advice from Leading Divorce Attorneys In New York

Getting a divorce under New York State law can be complex and full of legal restrictions and regulations.  Our team of highly qualified and experienced divorce lawyers at Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. has been helping all kinds of couples get a divorce in New York. We have extensive experience dealing with child support, property division, pre-nuptial agreements, and tax consideration for a divorce.

Schedule a free phone consultation by calling us at 718-276-6656 and speak to our top Divorce Attorney Brooklyn and Divorce Attorney Queens!

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!

Common Social Media Blunders to Avoid During Divorce Proceedings

Social media has been one of the most popular technological breakthroughs of the 21st century. Since 2004, it has grown steadily in popularity and number of users both. Social media platforms have now become a major source of information and news and provide a unique way to interact with people such as friends, family, customers, and more.

A smartphone screen with icons for popular social media platforms

According to statistics, there are over 3.5 billion social media users around the world. A huge percentage of the population in the United States is active on various social media platforms. However, not everyone uses social media as it has been intended, and many people end up making mistakes that cost them their jobs, reputation, and friends.

People going through divorces also make huge errors in judgment while using social media, and their blunders allow their ex to gather evidence that is used to manipulate the courts and get the better end of the deal.

Here are some of the most common social media errors made by people while getting a divorce:

Divulging Private Information

According to social media statistics, the average person spends up to 3 hours on various social media platforms every day. That is a long time, and it can be quite easy to slip up and start talking about the divorce and how the proceedings are going and what strategies you are using to make sure you get a good deal. However, this information can be used by the other party in court. Even if you are sharing information on private groups among trusted friends, there are plenty of ways your ex can get their hands on the conversations and comments. You should take a cue from celebrities and only make bland statements that offer no specific information.

Defamation law book and gavel on a table.

Talking About the Divorce or Disparaging Your Ex

During the divorce, emotions run quite high, and it can be tempting to blow off some steam by disparaging your ex on social media. That is a huge mistake and can be used in court to show your character and build a negative image of you as a toxic person. The information can also be used to file a defamation suit against you. Whatever you have gone through recently, no matter how badly your ex treated, it is best to refrain from commenting about it on social media.

Showing Off or Trying to Prove You’ve Moved On

Many people going through the divorce make bold statements on social media to prove that they have moved on, and they are in a better position than their ex. They make announcements of their good fortune, particularly if they have met someone new or just got a better job.

While its natural to want to share your happiness, statements like these can influence certain issues during the divorce, such as division of assets and child support.

They can also lead to claims of infidelity if you post that you are in a relationship, especially if the divorce hasn’t been finalized yet. It is usually best to err on the side of caution and avoid posting about your personal life on social media until the end of the divorce process.

Get Expert Legal advice from Leading Divorce Attorneys in New York

Don’t get lost in the complex legal labyrinth of divorce laws in New York! The law office of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C., offers the services of leading Divorce Attorney Brooklyn,Divorce Attorney Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Long Island. They can help you protect your rights and provide both contested and uncontested divorce representation.

Schedule a free phone consultation today by calling us at 718-276-6656 and discuss your case with experienced divorce attorneys in New York!

Better Call Saul: Is the Show an Accurate Representation of Lawyers in Real Life?

Netflix logo on a TV

Saul Goodman, Attorney at Law, has long been people’s favorite on-screen lawyer—maybe only rivaled by the good old Denny Crane and Tom Hagen. The protagonist of the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul, Saul is a quirky, witty, and level-headed on-screen lawyer.

As a fictional character representing a real-life profession, would Saul Goodman stand the test of time?

Most Accurate Legal Show on Television?

Viewers have been smitten with the on-screen portrayal of this attorney and his forays into “elder law”—and, later, with criminal law. But how accurate is this show, as far as the portrayal of lawyers is concerned?

a judge’s gavel

Surprisingly, Better Call Saul has been called the most accurate legal show on television. Real lawyers did sit down to watch the show and gave it an A- for realism. We at the Law Offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. are inclined to agree. It’s a pretty great show for the following reasons.

Realistic Court Life

The courts in Better Call Saul aren’t the romanticized, glamorized, theatrical scenes for sensational drama. They’re monotonous, daunting, and quite frankly, kind of boring—as they are in real life. We also get to see Saul struggle in public courts as a public defender, surviving pay cheque to pay cheque. It isn’t easy being a lawyer and dealing with public courts—and Better Call Saul does an excellent job of depicting that.

Realistic Jury-Working

Part of what makes Saul Goodman so good is his prowess with convincing anyone with his words. Saul opens his defense with the masterful working of the jury: starting with the bad, and quickly leaving them behind. His focus is on depicting his clients as humans capable of erring—and capable of learning from their mistakes. Real-life attorneys, too, do focus on humanizing their clients.

Realistic Elder Law

In the show, Saul Goodman starts off as someone who helps seniors make their wills—kind of like a probate lawyer, just not as extensive in scope. While his dealings with these seniors are fun and, at times, hilarious, the whole Sandpiper case is also very realistically portrayed. For those who haven’t seen the show, Sandpiper is a large senior care facility overcharging its clients without their knowledge. When Saul finds out he turns it into a case of fraud, and is able to pursue it—over several seasons. And that’s what makes it accurate. Legal negotiations take a long time to work out—it’s a bureaucratic process. Life doesn’t work like Primal Fear courtrooms and back alleys.

Looking for a Real-Life Lawyer Working Elder Law?

If you’ve been interested in family law, elder law, or probate services after watching this excellent show, you can reach out to us at the Law Offices of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. online. We offer Family Law Services Queens, Family Law Services Brooklyn and in other areas of New York.

And don’t worry about the dividing of your estates, chalking up of your will, or answering your beneficiaries. Like Saul Goodman so often says: ‘s all good, man. Better Call Us!

 

Why You Need a Probate Lawyer to Figure Out Your Estates NOW

an old man on a bench

Okay, maybe we went a little overboard with the NOW, but you do need a probate lawyer—sooner better than later. One day you will need your estates, assets, and other particulars to be sorted out.

Imagine not taking the right step at the right time for your posthumous affairs and all potential candidates end up fighting among themselves.  But this isn’t Game of Thrones—and you have probate lawyers who can help you with the entire legal process.

What a Probate Lawyer Does

As a legal representative who has been licensed by the state to advise you on your legal particulars, probate lawyers can smoothen out an otherwise drawn-out process. If you die without a will, this complicates things for a probate lawyer.

rows upon rows of law books

Whether you need help with securing and assessing states or writing your will, a probate lawyer is there for you. Seniors usually find it hard to deal with the hassles involved in a legal process. There’s too much paperwork and jargon to deal with. A probate lawyer means you don’t need to worry about these trifles now. You can go about your affairs while your lawyer will take care of the more complicated matters.

Everything We Take Care Of

If you think helping you write your will is the only thing probate lawyers help you with, think again. There’s a lot more that goes into the process, including:

  • File your will with the relevant local court
  • Procure appraisals for your property and other assets
  • File tax returns for deceased clients
  • Identify and determine beneficiaries
  • Help resolve any disputes related to your assets

Overall, a process that is otherwise difficult and even bitter for you becomes easier. You don’t have to worry about ensuring you’re making the right choices and not meting out anyone any wrongs. It’s the lawyer’s job now.

Creditors, Beneficiaries, and Others

The beneficiaries will have questions. In the rare off-chance that everyone gets along (and people rarely do), you might have an easier time. Most of these cases, however, require legal counsel to make the process easier.

Usually, beneficiaries are often concerned about things that, if resolved now, won’t become an obstacle later on. Your lawyer can keep these beneficiaries in the loop by regularly sending them letters and emails. Any questions that they have can be sorted out right now. If you are sending these communications yourself (as many clients opt to do), you can ask your probate lawyer to go over them for you.

Where Can You Find a Probate Lawyer?

Where else but right here? Reach out to our associates at the Law Offices of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. You can plan a consultation with a  Probate lawyer Brooklyn, Probate lawyer Queens in person if you’re in New York. We operate in the Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, and Bronx areas.

 

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.

When Is Probate Not Necessary In New York?

A trustee signing a living trust and helping a property holder avoid probate

When you’re planning your estate, your goal should be to spare your family and legal heirs the hassle as much as you can. The probate court proceedings could be very extensive, costly, and complicated. If you’re based in New York, here’s when you can avoid probate:

Joint Ownership

If you jointly owned property with your deceased spouse, the probate process won’t apply if you had ‘rights of survivorship.’ In this case, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the owner after one of the owners passes away. However, you still might need to present some paperwork to the court to prove that the surviving owner now holds the property.

  • Joint tenancy: You’re called a joint tenant if you and your partner (married or not) own an equal share of the property. Joint tenancy applies to real estate, bank accounts, valuables, and vehicles.
  • Tenancy by the entirety: Unlike joint tenancy, this form of ownership is only applicable to married couples if their real estate is co-owned.

The last will of an individual

Payable-On-Death

A POD designation (payable-on-death designation) applies to bank accounts, certificates of deposits, and savings accounts in New York. Under this system, you have full control and full rights over the money in your accounts until your death. After your death, the same right passes on to the beneficiary automatically without going through the court proceedings.

Transfer-On-Death

Transfer-on-death or TOD applies to your securities and financial assets. You can register your brokerage accounts, bonds, and stocks in a TOD form in New York. You also need to name a beneficiary in the same form. The designated beneficiary will automatically inherit your financial investments after your death. Instead of going through the probate proceedings, the beneficiary will directly deal with the brokerage company.

According to the state law of New York, TOD deeds don’t apply to vehicles or real estate.

Living Trust

Any assets placed in a living trust don’t need to go through probate. You can hold almost any asset in a living trust, including bank accounts, real estate, and vehicles. All you need to do is create a trust document, assign a successor trustee, and transfer your estate ownership to the trust. After this point, the property’s ownership will be controlled in terms of the trust. After your death, the successor trustee can transfer the assets to the trust beneficiaries without court proceedings.

The Law Offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. helps families simplify the probate process in Brooklyn, Queens, and Jamaica. Joseph Ledwidge attorney has around 20 years of experience in dealing with the most complicated probate cases.

Speak with us for a free consultation.

 

An Overview of the Probate Process in New York

An estate lawyer in Brooklyn helping a client write her last will.

In New York, probate is necessary for assets solely owned by the deceased and haven’t been legally bequeathed to a designated beneficiary. This means that if the property owner passes away without a written will, the probate court will distribute the estate according to the state laws. However, if the property holder leaves behind a will that stands uncontested, the probate has a limited role to play.

What Are Probate And Non-Probate Assets?

Assets that can go through probate include solely-owned bank accounts, vehicles, antiques, cash, art pieces, and jewelry. On the other hand, non-probate assets include:

  • Any bank accounts with named beneficiaries.
  • Retirement accounts.
  • Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries.
  • Jointly held real estate.
  • Assets held in a trust.

Probate may also not be necessary if:

  • The total value of the estate is not big.
  • The estate only comprises non-probate assets.
  • The deceased left behind an estate plan to avoid probate.

A deceased individual’s last will.

A Quick Look at the Probate Process

Here is the process that follows:

  • The executor starts off the process by filing the probate petition. For this, they need a copy of the deceased’s death certificate and the original will. Both of these documents need to go to the Surrogate’s Court of the County, where the deceased individual last lived. The exact filing fee depends on the total size of the estate.
  • The next step is to itemize the inventory. The executor will collect the deceased’s physical and non-physical assets and appraise them as of the date of death.
  • The executor will also use the estate funds to pay any outstanding debts, liabilities, and taxes. If the estate doesn’t comprise enough cash, they might need to sell one of the assets.
  • The next step is to notify the distributees (legal heirs). The formal notice is called a citation, which also goes to the Surrogate’s Court. The estate is then distributed according to the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) and the Estates Powers and Trust Law (EPTL).

Seek Guidance from a Probate Attorney Brooklyn

Other than this, probate law also involves matter related to contesting a will, spousal rights, estate planning for blended families, and administration of a trust. If the process sounds overwhelming, try seeking help from a well-experienced probate attorney.

There is no better option in Brooklyn than The Law Offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. Joseph Ledwidge attorney himself has around 20 years of experience in dealing with complex estate matters.

Try us out. We also offer services in Queens, Manhattan, and Jamaica.

An Estate Planning Checklist for Beginners

A house in Brooklyn passed on to a beneficiary through a probate

Preparing for the end of your life sounds challenging, but it’s something that you should do, notwithstanding. Having a well-thought-out will is not just essential for seniors but for the youth too. Life is uncertain. The best you can do for your children is to plan your estate carefully and intelligently.

Let’s cover the basics of estate planning:

Make a list of your belongings.

To get started with your estate planning, you need to begin to itemize your inventory or belongings. This may take a few days. Grab a paper and pen and start looking around for all the tangible and intangible assets you own. After you’ve enlisted the assets, you should also mention their estimated market value, date of purchase, purchase price, appraisal and valuation reports, and the number of years it’s been with you.

Your tangible assets may include real estate, property, homes, precious metals, ornaments, jewelry, antique collectibles, trading cards, cars, motorcycles, and boats. Intangible assets mostly comprise your investments, receivables, and bank accounts. Common examples of intangible assets include retirement plans (IRAs), savings accounts, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposits, treasury bills, and business ownership. When you’re enlisting these items, write down account details and the company/institution where your investments are held.

Consider Your Family’s Needs.

Your estate planning will also revolve around some important family decisions. If your children are still young, you need to name a guardian and backup guardian (if the primary guardian doesn’t survive). This will ensure that your children are taken care of and help avoid costly court fights. You don’t need to assume that your immediate relatives will share your child-rearing goals. Document your childcare-related wishes as explicitly as you can.

If you’ve remarried and don’t name a guardian, the child’s custody automatically goes to the surviving biological parent. If you’re not on good terms with your ex-spouse and don’t want this to happen, specify it in the will.

A probate courthouse

Review the Beneficiaries.

When you’re writing your will, don’t leave any beneficiary sections blank. In this case, when the will goes through probate, the assets will be distributed according to the estate laws. We also recommend contingent beneficiaries that get the property if the primary beneficiary dies before you do.

If you’ve remarried, you might want to update the beneficiary list. Let’s say your ex-spouse is still a beneficiary on your life insurance policy; your current spouse will not get a penny from the policy payout. The same goes for your retirement account. Keep track of and update the beneficiary designations as needed.

The last step is to select an estate executor who will in charge of administering the last testament. Choose someone competent, responsible, and possesses good decision-making ability. Your spouse isn’t always the best choice, especially if losing you takes a toll on their emotional well-being.

If the process sounds complicated, we recommend seeking help from a well-qualified estate and probate lawyer. If you’re based in Brooklyn, Queens, or Manhattan, and are looking for Queens Probate lawyer or Brooklyn Probate lawyer there is no better option than the law office of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. We have over 20 years of experience in handling complex probate cases. You can contact online or give us a call at 347-395-4799 to arrange a consultation with an experienced New York probate attorney.

 

Do Life Insurance Beneficiary Rules Supersede Those of a Will in New York?

Life insurance can be a great investment to alleviate the financial burden on your surviving family should you die unexpectedly. The policy can help cover the costs of your funeral, pay off outstanding debts, and ensure your family is provided for financially.

However, there can be issues that arise regarding wither your life insurance beneficiary rules will supersede those of your will. When you die, whether you have a will or not, your estate must go through the New York State probate process.

last will and testament in a court

If you have a will, then the Surrogate Court will use probate rules to ensure your estate is handled according to your will. If you do not have a will, then the Surrogate Court will use an administrative proceeding to handle your estate and its distribution to surviving family members.

Yet, if you have a life insurance policy and a will, the Court will follow the beneficiary rules of the insurance policy and not your will, in most cases. So, if you named your wife as the beneficiary years ago when you got the policy and then named your children as beneficiaries in your will, your wife would receive all the proceeds from the life insurance policy.

Exceptions When Your Will Supersedes Life Insurance Beneficiary Rules

There are a few different exceptions where you will supersede the life insurance beneficiary rules:

Exception Example #1

You named your wife as beneficiary of your life insurance. However, you got divorced but forgot to update your life insurance. Your divorce decree included a statement where your ex-wife gave up all rights and claims to life insurance, retirement accounts, and other such assets. In this situation, then the beneficiary or beneficiaries named in your will would receive the life insurance proceeds.

Exception Example #2

You named your wife as beneficiary of your life insurance. Your wife passed away before you. You forgot to update your life insurance. Upon your death, if you had named beneficiaries in your will, they would receive the proceeds of the life insurance. If you did not, then the proceeds become part of the cash assets for your estate and are distributed according to your wishes.

Exception Example #3

You named your two children as beneficiaries of your life insurance. One of your children passed away before you did. Upon your death, the percentage that was to go to the child that died would either be distributed based on the beneficiary named in your will or become part of the cash assets of your estate and distributed accordingly.

Please keep in mind, these are very general examples to demonstrate when a will supersedes a life insurance beneficiary. There can be complex situations that can and do vary from one family to another.

In addition, for other types of accounts that have named beneficiaries like savings accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, etc., the beneficiaries named on these accounts would also supersede those named in a will in most cases.

happy Couple planning investment With Financial Consultant

Therefore, it is essential to get into the habit of reviewing named beneficiaries listed on life insurance and financial accounts annually. Updating beneficiaries is not difficult, and you may even be able to do so online.

You should also make it a habit to review and update your will annually, as necessary, with help from a New York probate attorney to ensure that the will reflects your current intentions and wishes.

For further assistance with creating or updating a will or assistance with updating beneficiaries on life insurance and financial accounts in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Jamaica, or New York City, please feel free to contact Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. at 718-276-6656 today!