Tag: nassau county estate planning attorney

Gift Taxes and Estate Planning

On August 21, 2012, in Estate planning, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Gift Taxes and Estate Planning

Gift Taxes and Estate Planning

Individuals can give tax-free gifts to an unlimited number of people each year, as long as the value of each of those gifts does not exceed a certain limit. Additionally, spouses are each personally entitled to give gifts up to the tax-free limit, even if they give gifts to the same person.

Tax-free gifts can benefit any estate large enough to be subject to estate taxes. By giving yearly gifts, up to the tax-free limit, individuals can avoid estate taxes on that portion of their estate. If these gifts are given to the same people that the estate would go to anyway, gifts can lower the tax liability estate heirs may face. In some instances, these gifts may reduce the estate below the estate-tax level, meaning gifts could potentially save an estate a great deal in taxes.

The limit on tax-free gifts has changed often over the past several years, and could change again. It is important to consult with an attorney or tax specialist when using tax-free gifts as part of an estate planning strategy.

If you have questions about this or other legal issues, call the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC at 516-858-2620 to schedule a free consultation.

Elder Law

On August 21, 2012, in Elder law, Estate planning, Litigation, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Elder Law Issues

Legal Issues as we age

Certain legal issues become increasingly urgent as we age.  We become more concerned with providing for our families in our absence, for instance.  And we become more concerned with our health and autonomy.  Proper planning and the right legal documents can address these concerns by helping to ensure that our values and wishes are respected as we age.

The issues we face in advanced age can be roughly divided into the following categories:

Capacity:  Illness and injury can rob us of our ability to make decisions for ourselves.  If a Court believes that an illness or injury has significantly impaired an individual’s cognitive ability, it may assign a guardian to make decisions on that person’s behalf.  The guardian’s task is to act in the best interests of the individual they are assigned to.  But without knowledge of a person’s history, values, and philosophy, the guardian may inadvertently make decisions that go against that person’s wishes, even if the guardian’s intentions are good.

With the proper legal documents, we can avoid having decisionmaking power over our lives handed to strangers.  By appointing health care proxies and granting powers of attorney to people they trust, seniors can ensure that the decisions affecting them are made by people that know their values and respect their wishes.

Estate Planning:  Individuals can minimize tax and even medicare liability by creating trusts, giving gifts, and taking other steps to manage their property.  Additionally, state law distributes property to descendants in a particular way, which may not reflect the wishes of the deceased.  By collaborating with an estate planning attorney, individuals can ensure that their property is disposed of in harmony with their own unique concerns and goals.

Benefits:  Many elderly individuals depend upon government benefits to help them make ends meet.  Veteran’s benefits, Social Security, Medicare and other government programs can be very complex.  Some benefits can even be lost if recipients don’t apply within certain time frames.  Elderly individuals may need to consult with an attorney in order to ensure that they receive what they are entitled to.

Abuse:  Unfortunately, the elderly are often targets of fraud or other forms of abuse.  Seniors may appear weak or vulnerable to those who are looking to take advantage of someone.  But with legal representation, such abuses can be prevented, or, at the very least, compensated.

Obviously, these elder law issues aren’t entirely unique to the elderly.  Anyone could become incapacitated by an illness.  And anyone with significant assets should consider drafting estate planning documents such as wills or trusts.  Nevertheless, these issues become more pressing, and more interrelated, as we age.

If you are having any elder law issues that you need assistance with, call the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC 516-858-2620 to speak with an attorney.

Authenticity of a Last Will and Testament

On August 16, 2012, in Estate planning, by John A. Weber IV, ESQ.

Authenticity of Last Will and Testament

Thomas Kinkade’s estate is being contested

The importance of having a Last Will and Testament or more commonly referred to as a Will, cannot be overstated.  A simple Will is a document that has great importance to wealthy persons as well as those with not much to leave behind.  Generally, a Will is used as a concrete guide in distributing the  Testators Estate.  Circumstances can arise which complicate matters however.  One of these circumstances are when the Testator drafts more than one Will or Codicil.

Currently, the famous, late artist, Thomas Kinkade’s estate is being contested.  The dispute is between his wife (from whom he is separated from) and his girlfriend (whom he lived with at the time of his death).  The interesting twist in his case is that he had drafted several Wills and Codicils that the courts must now sort through to determine their authenticity.  The American Bar Journal’s Mark Hansen wrote an article summarizing the issues.  The link to the article is listed below.

ABA Journal – August 16, 2012

Estate Planning Attorney in Mineola

If you have questions regarding the authenticity of a last will and testament, please call the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC at 516-858-2620.

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