October 2010 News: New York Estate Planning News

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October 2010 Archives

Kramer Case On Life Insurance Still Ongoing in Court

NY estate planning attorneys argued in court about whether the state law bars individuals from purchasing life insurance policies and selling them right away to investors who earn money after the death of the insured person. The Court of Appeals is left to decide on this question: can someone buy a policy without any intent to protect their loved ones' personal or economic welfare and just sell it to another person?

The Legislature recently amended a law that oversees alleged "stranger originated life insurance" (STOLIs). It keeps intermediaries, who don't have any personal interest in an insured person, from planning in advance for someone to get and transfer a policy to them.

Including A Pet Trust In Your Estate Planning

Many New York pet lovers may not have considered their pets as beneficiaries to an estate. According to the Times Herald-Record, including pets in a tool such as pet trust into one's estate planning helps guarantee the animals will receive the optimum care needed when a pet owner passes away. Pet owners Bob and Laura made it a priority to decide on who would take care of their dog, Samson, and cat, Delilah, after their death.

Trusts for the care of pets are legally enforceable under New York law. Local residents can arrange a pet trust in a trust or will. While a trust is private and doesn't go to court, a will becomes a public document once submitted to court. The court administers the directions in a person's will as well as pet trust provisions.

Why House Calls By A NY Estate Attorney Are Important

Although much of the estate planning process happens at a lawyer or financial adviser's office, The Wall Street Journal reports those professionals could benefit more from making house calls. Holland & Knight partner Milford B. Hatcher says estate planning "is a 'people's practice,' and a house call promotes personalization." 

House calls help improve communication and create a better relationship between adviser and client. Clients wanting to plan their estates can possibly view NY lawyers or advisers who make house calls as a professional and friend. A New York estate planning attorney may also gain more insight on a client's net worth after visiting the person's home or place of business.

Are In Vitro Kids The Rightful Beneficiaries To Estates In NY?

With assisted reproductive technologies doubling in the U.S. within the last ten years, many parents have conceived children with medical procedures like in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination. According to Bloomberg.com, this highlights a problem: many states do not have laws that administer the inheritance rights of children conceived posthumously.

Numerous questions arise concerning whether or not posthumously conceived children can benefit from a relative's trust or will because it's unclear whether that's what the benefactor would have wanted. NY estate planning lawyer Laura Twomey stated "there are situations where it's not so clear that a person would have wanted to be deemed a parent after death."

Should New Yorkers Consider A Living Will?

A living will is a type of health care directive that allows individuals to retain control over their lives and estates in the event they become unable to make their own health care decisions. While some New Yorkers may not have the time to think about such a situation, FindLaw offers some basic information many should consider when deciding whether they should having a living will.

Some medical treatments have left patients in a limited condition referred to as a "persistent vegetative state." The person is alive similarly to the way a plant is alive, but he or she cannot speak, move, or show any signs of brain activity. Health care providers and patients' families can often disagree to the care a patient needs when he or she is in a persistent vegetative state, like an irreversible coma.

Dan Duncan's Heirs Don't Avoid the Estate Tax

Dan Duncan's death this past March had instigated speculation as to whether or not his heirs would be able to avoid a major tax bill since there is an estate tax lapse in 2010. Dan Duncan, a Texas billionaire, had an estimated fortune of over $12 billion. Many people estimated his heirs would have saved billions of dollars if they were able to avoid the estate tax.

However, The Wall Street Journal reported that a statement from Enterprise Products Company, the Duncan family's closely held business, suggests that Dan Duncan's beneficiaries may not have actually benefited from the estate tax break. The statement says that his heirs "are not materially benefiting from the lapse in the federal estate tax as promulgated under current tax law."

The Art of New York Estate Planning

Beneficiaries are often caught off guard after they find out what an estate holds for them. According to The Wall Street Journal, even those who plan and manage the estates for individuals may not really know all the details about a particular estate until the time comes to report the assets to the survivors of their client.

A NY estate planning attorney may agree to the fact that an estate plan doesn't always offer a clear record of what a person owns, even though many work to have it the other way around. Poor communication between lawyers and advisers can potentially cause problems, while numerous people who actually seek an estate plan don't always share a full account of their assets.  Some people could leave significant things unmentioned, like car collection or another house they own.

Why Estate Planning Is Important For A New Yorker

Whether it's preparing a will or trust or managing one's assets, some New Yorkers may not realize what estate planning can do for them. FindLaw provides a few reasons why an NY local may want to consider estate planning.

Through life insurance, you can provide for your surviving spouse and immediate family, especially if your spouse does not work outside home. Estate planning makes it easier for you to pass your property on to other members of your family, and without it your beneficiaries could receive less and acquire your estate later.

Huguette Clark Deemed 'Not Lucid'

The New York Daily News reported Manhattan prosecutors believe 104-year-old heiress Huguette Clark is "not lucid" after investigators interviewed the recluse woman twice. The elderly woman was found to be without all her faculties intact and suffering from poor vision and hearing loss, which conflicts with Wallace Bock, Clark's lawyer, and his claims that his client is entirely competent.

NY estate planning lawyers have not heard the last of the issues surrounding Huguette Clark's estate. As mentioned before on this blog, conflict has arisen about the management of Clark's $500 million fortune. The heiress owns Fifth Ave.'s largest co-op apartment and lavish estates in California and Connecticut. Wallace Bock says he has just been following his client's orders to keep her relatives at bay while she resides at the Beth Israel Medical Center.

Private Bankers Prepare Clients for Rise in Taxes

Income taxes, gift taxes, dividend and capital gains are all expected to rise next year, according to current law established by Congress. The break from estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes are also scheduled to return next year at a 55 percent rate with a $1 million exemption.

Contrary to the hopes of private bankers, Wells Fargo Private Bank chief executive Jay Welker doesn't see Congress extending this year's lower tax rates. Reuters reported private bankers have been cautioning their wealthy clients to prepare themselves for higher taxes in 2011, suggesting they take capital gains and make gifts before the year ends.

Life Insurers Worry About Losing Their Tax Breaks

As Congress looks for new revenue sources in the midst of huge budget deficits, life insurance businesses worry that lawmakers may reconsider the industry's tax advantages. Life insurance companies claim they have a role in protecting widows and orphans from poverty in the event the main breadwinner in a family dies. According to The Wall Street Journal, this has kept life insurance free from income taxes.

Although insurers have a historical foundation in providing for middle-class households, statistics have shown a large shift where more affluent Americans have become a majority of policy owners. Those who are well-off end up collecting profit from their policies as a part of complex estate-tax plans. A NY estate attorney can explain the process in better detail.

Tohme Tohme Seeks Access to Michael Jackson's Financial Records

Tohme Tohme, Michael Jackson's final business manager, asked a judge to unseal detailed financial documents from the late singer's estate. According to the Associated Press, Tohme filed a claim that said he is entitled to at least 2.3 million from Jackson's estate and argued that the sealing of the records may keep him and other creditors from receiving further pay.

It's not completely surprising for any New York estate planning attorney to hear of yet another claim seeking rights to part of Michael Jackson's estate. Tohme Tohme claimed he has a right to fifteen percent of profits from the film "This Is It," which presented clips from Michael Jackson's rehearsals for his comeback concerts. Tohme's motion also seeks access to revenue, expense, and profit information that is not available to the public.

Could a Conservatorship Help Lindsay Lohan?

After recently checking herself in to rehab, Lindsay Lohan's family appears to be considering putting the actress under a conservatorship program to help restart Lohan's life and career, MTV reported. The situation parallels Britney Spears', whose father administered a strict conservatorship that brought the singer out of a troubled period.

Conservatorships take place when an individual steps in to manage the day-to-day financial or medical matters of an incapacitated adult. They involve a court-ordered authority to be responsible for the incapacitated person's affairs and generally require court hearings and ongoing assistance from a lawyer, like an NY estate planning attorney.