What You Need to Know When Purchasing a Property for Your Business
Selecting an appropriate property for your business can be challenging. You want to assure that wherever you end up, the property meets the needs of your business. Below are five important things to consider.
Perhaps the most important thing you need to ensure is that the land you are looking at is zoned properly for your intended business use. If you purchase property that is not zoned correctly, there is a chance you will never be able to use that property for your business.
Determining whether the necessary utilities are located on or near the site is essential. The cost of running new utilities, such as sewer or water, to the site can quickly add up into the thousands, so ensure all needed utilities are provided.
The perfect piece of property can quickly become unusable if the property is encumbered by numerous easements or restrictions. Be sure to have your attorney work closely with the title company to ensure the property’s title is clear.
Access to and from city, state, and county roads may be controlled, meaning you need to obtain a permit to have a new access point added. If your business requires special access needs, such as requiring two access points or an over-sized access point, you may wish to work with your attorney and the appropriate governing authority to ensure those accesses will be granted before you purchase the property.
If the property has been used for a potentially hazardous use in the past, it may be wise have soil and groundwater testing done to ensure there is no contamination on the site. Similarly, older buildings should be tested for asbestos. Purchasing a contaminated site can cost you thousands of dollars in clean up and remediation fees.
If you are looking to purchase a property for your business, you should work with an experienced NY real estate law attorney. Meyer & Spencer PC, a real estate lawyer Orange County NY, can assist you through this important process.
Demystifying the Four Steps to Probate
If you are dealing with settling an estate, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with probate. This is the legal process involved in distributing a deceased’s assets. In many cases, the executor of the will is in charge of handling probate. Where there is no will, the probate court determines how to distribute assets. Here are the five main steps to probate.
File a Petition
The first step in a probate is to file a petition in the area where the deceased resided when they died. A petition is simply a request to be acknowledged as the legitimate executor of the deceased’s estate. Before you are approved as the executor, you need to notify the main stakeholders that the estate is in probate. A notice should be issued to all heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors. In some states, executors are required to publish this notification in the newspaper. According to NY state estate law, the court will ask for a hearing where it will approve the executor or hear any challenges to your request. If your petition is approved, the court will issue Letters Testamentary and you will have the power to execute the deceased’s wishes with regards to their estate.
Take an Inventory of the Deceased’s Assets
As the representative of the deceased’s estate, you need to make an inventory of all their assets and present them before the court. These assets include:
• Stocks and bonds
• Bank accounts
• Real estate
• Retirement accounts
• Personal effects like valuable art collections
Handle Bills and Debts
An important part of being an executor is collecting and settling debts. Meyer & Spencer PC will advise you to review check books, bank accounts, emails, and other documentation when determining debts and bills. The state usually prioritizes on creditor claims in case the deceased had insufficient assets. You are also required to pay all taxes.
Distribution of Assets
After all debts, claims, and expenses have been settled, you will distribute the remaining assets according to the directions in the will. After distributing all assets, you are required to submit records and receipts of everything to court and ask that the estate be closed. It is at this point that you will be released from your duty as executor.
The probate process is quite complex and daunting. For help filing a petition, gathering information about the deceased’s estate, and dealing with creditors, it is advisable to consult an estates lawyer. With a legal expert by your side, you are likely to finalize probate quickly and without any hurdles.
Why Do I Need A Living Will?
A living will is a vital legal document that all people need for peace of mind regarding their end of life care. A living will is a document that allows you the patient to direct the physicians, nurses and others who will be involved in your care as to what type of care you do and do not want in an end of life situation.
Some people do not wish to be kept alive by any type of artificial means if they are diagnosed with a terminal condition or if their condition offers no hope of a meaningful recovery such as victims of massive strokes. A living will directs the medical team on matters such as when not to attempt resuscitation or when to discontinue life support measures.
If you do not have a living will in place and your condition leaves you unable to respond and make decisions related to your care, a relative or someone appointed by a court may make those decisions for you. They may not act in the manner that you wish.
The law regarding living wills differs from state to state. It is important to contact an estates lawyer to assist you with drafting a living will that meets your requirements and the legal requirements of the state in which you reside.
Estate Planning Attorney Westchester and Putnam Counties:
Estate planning attorneys, such as those at Meyer & Spencer PC, have years of experience in crafting living wills that meet all of the law’s requirements. These attorneys will ask you detailed questions regarding what you do and do not want in regard to end of life care. In addition, with their years of estate planning experience, they will be able to assist you with all aspects of estate planning and the legal matters related to the area of elder care law.
Not all long-term care insurance policies are created the same. When you’re choosing the best policy for you, it’s important to understand what most long-term care insurance policies cover. The elder law attorney team at Meyer & Spencer PC can help you determine the best policy for you.
What most policies cover
Most long-term care policies cover placement in an assisted living facility. They also typically cover adult daycare, respite care, hospice and nursing home care. A standard policy also usually includes Alzheimer’s care. It’s important to read your policy carefully to make sure that it covers these basic things.
Home care is one important area of long-term care insurance that you need to consider. Some long-term care policies cover home care, and others don’t. This is a benefit that brings someone into your home to provide nursing care, therapy or other kinds of assistance that you might need. This is an important decision that you need to make in order to pick out the appropriate policy for your needs and preferences.
When you work with the attorneys at Meyer & Spencer, they can help you prioritize the things you might want most in your policy. There are things like waiting periods before benefits can kick in that you need to pay attention to. In addition, you should look at policy maximums.
Some policies operate like traditional insurance policies, and they don’t return your premiums if you don’t use policy benefits. Other policies double as life insurance policies. In that case, you get your unused premiums back as a payment at death if you don’t need your benefits. It’s also important to work with an experienced elder law attorney on the tax implications of the policy that you choose.
How can an attorney help?
An estates lawyer can help you think through the choices and pick the best policy. The attorneys at Meyer & Spencer help each client make sure that the policy they choose covers their needs and priorities. They help each client choose long term care as part of a larger plan to understand and address their estate planning needs.
Parents, you need to think about having an attorney prepare two simple legal documents for your college-age student. One is a Power of Attorney. The other is a Health Care Proxy. These documents can be invaluable if your child has a medical emergency. We have all heard of cases where a college student gets severely injured. Did you ever wonder who is going to make the necessary decisions for the injured person? Consider that your college-age child is now an adult. Consequently, you may not be able automatically to make decisions for your college-age child. Some states have surrogate decision making statutes. In New York, the statute allows a patient’s parent, other family member or even a close friend to make health care decisions for the patient. The statute applies only where the patient lacks capacity to make such decisions AND did not previously appoint a health care agent. But not all states have such statutes, and, even when a statute exists, there can be issues of which family member will serve as the surrogate decision maker. In states where there is no such statute, the absence of these legal documents can lead to unforeseen and unwanted outcomes and problems.
Start with the premise that, as legal adults, your college-age children can actually prevent you from seeing their financial and/or medical records. For parents, this news may come as a surprise. But, the truth is you have no legal right to access your college-age student’s medical records. That means you have no legal right to find out what medical choices they have made, what medications they are taking, what treatment and/or counseling they will get or what procedures they have undergone. In fact, you can’t even see, or have any access to, their medical records. Technically, their treating doctors should not even speak to you. So, what can we do to help you ask? Call us to prepare a Health Care Proxy for your college-age child to sign.
The Health Care Proxy is a crisis document. It is limited to medical matters and can only be used when there is an incapacity. In other words, it only becomes effective when your child is unable to make decisions on his/her own. So, if your child needs important decisions made while they are unconscious or in a coma, the Health Care Proxy lets you make the important decisions regarding what medical care is provided.
In addition to being unable to make medical decisions without a Health Care Proxy, you can’t make financial decisions for your college-age child without a Power of Attorney. A properly signed POA can help in a myriad of circumstances including financial and medical. The POA allows you to conduct banking transactions for your student. You can also make investments. Is your student involved in an insurance matter? The POA can help with that too. The POA can be used for securing government benefits. It also allows you to deal with medical billing, payments and records. You can even file tax returns for your student. Is your college-age child studying abroad or traveling overseas? The POA can help there too. Of course, the POA is not unlimited. Everything you do while using that POA needs to be done for the benefit of the person who appointed you. Unlike the Health Care Proxy, the POA is effective immediately. No need to wait for an emergency. This immediate effectiveness makes the POA a powerful tool to help your college-age child. In short, the POA can be used as a matter of convenience from simple banking transactions to more complex financial matters, and a lot of matters in between.
While you hope to never need to use these documents, it is best to be prepared in case something goes awry while your child is away at college. Be safe. Be smart. Be prepared. Schedule an appointment with us to make sure you have the right legal documents for your college-age student.
Join us between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on this Sunday, April 19th at the Shop Putnam Business & Home Expo!
Where: Mahopac High School, 421 Baldwin Place Rd., Mahopac, NY 10541
Why: Meet and mingle with local business owners and leaders. Take advantage of Expo specials being offered to visitors attending the Expo. Learn and talk about new products and services offered by people who are experts in their fields. Show your pride and support for your local businesses by coming to the Largest Business Event in Putnam County!
No Reservations Required!
Free to the Public! Bring the family, neighbors and friends!
A life insurance trust is a great way to avoid estate taxes on the proceeds from your life insurance policy. For most people, their life insurance proceeds will be included in their gross taxable estate when they die. The general rule is that life insurance proceeds will be included in the gross taxable estate if: (a) the named beneficiary is your estate or the executor of your Estate; (b) you possessed incidents of ownership at the time of your death (i.e., the ability to change beneficiaries or borrow against the policy); or (c) the ownership of the policy was transferred to someone else within three years of your death. And, for larger life insurance policies, those proceeds could subject your estate to federal and/or state estate taxes.
So, what do you do if you are planning on purchasing a life insurance policy with a large death benefit? Well, you might want to consider creating a irrevocable life insurance trust. The purpose of an irrevocable life insurance trust (sometimes called an ILIT) is to keep the policy proceeds out of your gross taxable estate and out of the estate of your spouse. This type of trust is typically created as a stand-alone trust. Its sole purpose is owning and holding your life insurance policy. Now, in order for the ILIT to effectively exclude the policy proceeds from your gross estate (a) you must not have any ownership rights in the policy; (b) your estate must not be named a beneficiary on the policy; and (c) you may not be a Trustee of the Trust (however, your spouse may act as a Trustee). The ILIT is a separate legal entity. The ILIT will have its own tax identification number. The ILIT will own the life insurance policy. The ILIT will receive the full proceeds which will be available to your heirs upon your death. This strategy also works for those who have an existing life insurance policy where the proceeds are currently includable in your gross tax estate. You can transfer your existing life insurance policy to an ILIT.
Besides avoiding estate taxes, an ILIT can be used to help pay your estate taxes. For many people, life insurance is a great way to help pay estate taxes. Let’s say your net worth is tied up in assets that cannot be easily liquidated, such as real estate or a small business. The life insurance death benefit provides the necessary liquidity so that your heirs do not have to sell the real estate or small business. However, if the life insurance policy is not held in a trust and passes through your estate, much of the benefit will be lost due to increased estate taxes. This strategy can be a great benefit and provide much needed liquidity to pay estate taxes without having your heirs have to worry about liquidating other assets to handle your estate.
Despite its great benefits, an ILIT does have some drawbacks. The trust itself and all transfers of life insurance policies into it are irrevocable. Since the trust is irrevocable, you get the estate tax benefits. But, it cannot be amended. This limitation will prevent you from changing beneficiaries or naming new beneficiaries. It also means you will be unable to borrow against the policy or cash it in. However, if you know that you will not change your beneficiaries and you know that you will not need to access the policy’s cash value during your life time, the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust can be a great estate tax planning option.
Just click on this link Continuing Education for Realtors to get more information about our upcoming FREE seminar. Three (3) continuing education credits for realtors. Meyer & Spencer, PC is happy to co-sponsor this event with our friends at Tompkins Mahopac Bank! Join us with Glenn Wu on April 22nd at 3 pm at the Tompkins Mahopac Bank branch in Brewster, NY. We look forward to seeing you there!
The importance of a great estate planning team cannot be understated. There is a widely-held misconception that estate planning and an estate planning team are reserved for “other” people. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Consider that many residents of Westchester and Putnam County are millionaires – and they don’t even know it! You might be a millionaire if you own your house unencumbered by a mortgage, have retirement funds in and IRA or 401(k) plan and have some life insurance. For many, home equity represents are large portion of our net worth. It is no longer unusual for home values in Putnam County to exceed $600,000 or $700,000 and in Westchester to exceed $750,000. So, when you include life insurance and retirement plans, you probably need some advanced estate planning.
We, of course, think your estate planning team should start with Meyer & Spencer, PC. As your estate planning attorney, we will be responsible for the drafting of your estate planning documents such as your Will, Revocable Living Trust, Power of Attorney, etc. and making sure your estate plan will meet all of your objectives.
A solid estate planning team would also include your financial advisor, banker and accountant. Financial advisors fall into many different categories. The most common is the Series 7 registered representative, commonly known as a stockbroker. Most brokerage firms now call them “financial consultants,” “account executives,” or “investment representatives.” These financial consultants can offer a wide variety of investment products from stocks and bonds to annuities and insurance depending on which licenses they hold. However, in many cases, the financial consultant’s area of expertise will be in the stock market. A good financial consultant will be able to build a diversified portfolio for you depending on your age and your investment objectives.
Another type of financial advisor is the insurance planner most commonly referred to as “financial planners.” Most financial planners have the licensing and ability to trade stocks and bonds; however, their focus is usually different. It is not unusual for an insurance planner to work as part of the estate planning team with a stockbroker to fill in the gaps of your investment portfolio. While a stockbroker may manage your investment account on a five to ten year horizon, insurance planners typically look farther out on the horizon. Insurance Planners can use life insurance, annuities and other investment vehicles to increase your net worth and protect your assets after your death. Insurance planners will also be able to provide disability insurance to ensure that your family’s future will be secure in the event you are disabled and no longer able to work. If you own your own business, an insurance planner would be the proper person with whom to consult when it comes to business succession planning. Whether you sell your business at death, upon disability or at retirement, it is imperative to have a business succession plan in place.
Your banker may be able to provide some of the products that your stockbroker or Insurance Planner provides all under the same roof. This depends on the bank and the experience level of the Financial Advisors working at the bank. Most banks typically have Trust Departments where professional trustees are used to manage trust assets. This is particularly important if you are leaving assets to a disabled child or if you have an estate that is too complex to be properly managed by other family members.
Your accountants round out the Estate Planning Team. Unlike the other financial professionals who can sell investment and insurance products, your accountant’s role is much different. Your accountant will help you analyze your assets and providing insight on the tax ramifications of your various holdings. Your accountant can be extremely helpful in reviewing IRAs and deferred compensation plans. Your accountant can offer guidance to the other members of the estate planning team as to how to best protect these assets.
Regardless of your net worth, it is important that you have experienced and reliable estate planning team working for you. It is also important that your advisors work together so that everyone is aware of what the other advisors are doing. Teamwork and planning are the key components to having a well-rounded all inclusive estate plan.
We know this is not late night television. However, we also know that people like top ten lists. So, we have come up with our Top Ten Reasons to do an Estate Plan. After all, how many times have you thought to yourself “I’ve got to call my lawyer and get my Will finalized soon?” It seems that procrastination is the primary reason that people fail to get their affairs in order. Nowhere is the old saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” more appropriate than in the context of Estate Planning. Without a comprehensive estate plan in place, once you die or become incapacitated in a catastrophic accident, your family will not have any control over how your estate or affairs are administered. So, without further ado, here is our top ten reasons to do an estate plan:
Reason 1: estate planning can save your family tens of thousands of dollars in probate costs and legal fees.
Reason 2: estate planning allows you to determine exactly how and to whom your assets are distributed after your death.
Reason 3: estate planning allows you to designate who will raise your children if both you and your spouse die while your children are under the age of majority.
Reason 4: estate planning allows you to determine the age for your children or grandchildren to receive their inheritance.
Reason 5: estate planning allows you to designate who will manage your assets until such time as your heirs are old enough to receive them outright.
Reason 6: estate planning will prevent conflicts among your family members because all decisions will have been made by you ahead of time leaving nothing left to debate.
Reason 7: estate planning can prevent your child’s ex-spouse from controlling the use of assets you may want to leave to your grandchildren.
Reason 8: estate planning enables the person of your choice to handle health care decision making and financial decision making for you if you are incapacitated.
Reason 9: estate planning can protect your assets from being used to pay off the creditors of your children or other heirs.
Reason 10: estate planning can save your family tens of thousands and even more in Estate Taxes if you have a taxable estate.
The above-listed reasons are just some of the more obvious reasons for getting your affairs in order right away. Once you die, the laws of intestate succession take over and your kids may fight over who should serve as the Estate Administrator and your assets may end up in the hands of someone you did not wish to leave them to. Most people realize that they should have a Will and other advanced care directives in place; however, know you have our top ten reasons to do an estate plan. No one likes to think about their death so they procrastinate about taking the steps to put their plan in place. By failing to plan, your procrastination may unfortunately be a complete disservice to your loved ones.