Leaving Assets to Minors

Leaving Assets to Minors - herzog law firm estate planning

Most people want to leave an inheritance to their children and grandchildren.  In some cases, parents may choose to skip a generation and leave money and other assets directly to grandchildren.  Leaving assets to minor children (those under the age of 18) is commonly done by naming them beneficiaries on bank accounts, IRA’s, or other retirement funds, insurance policies, or by designating the grandchildren as beneficiaries in a will.

Pitfalls of Leaving Assets to Minors

Minors not allowed to own assets.  When naming a minor as a beneficiary, it is a guarantee that there will be a court proceeding after you pass away.  The judge will appoint an attorney to represent each minor child named as a beneficiary.  Each lawyer gets paid from the dollar value of the assets going to the child they represent.  Probate court can be a costly and time consuming process and should be avoided whenever possible. Then, when the children turn 18, they will receive their inheritance in one lump sum.  A high school senior receiving a check for the size of your estate could be an opportunity to grow up and make dreams a reality, or an opportunity to make less than ideal choices.

Creating a Trust for Minors

The best way to leave money to minor children is by creating a trust, which the minors are beneficiaries of.  Trusts avoid probate and save a lot of time and effort while ensuring your wishes are followed.  When you create a trust, you can spell out certain requirements and provisions that must be met.  For example, instead of releasing one lump sum, you can do it in stages.

When you create the trust, you appoint trustees, who will manage the money for the minor children until they reach an age that you specify – it can be 25 or even 35.  Once the minors are of age, the assets become theirs to spend, or released as per your specifications.  Prior to that, the trustees can be directed to use the trust to pay for education, health care, and other items of support at your choosing.

Even modest estates can benefit from looking into creating a trust.  It’s not the size of your bank account that determines if a trust is useful. Setting up your estate correctly can help to ensure your children & grandchildren receive even more money and assets instead of it going towards probate and legal fees after your death.

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How to Plan your Estate

Just over 1/3 of Americans have a will, and fewer have any estate planning documents at all. An often overlooked area of estate planning is loss of capacity. The reality is that anyone, at any age, can be left incapacitated without warning. Significant others do not have the authority to make health care, end of life or burial decisions for you without proper documentation.

You can download a PDF of this presentation by clicking this link.

Presented by Debra Verni, Esq

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8 Tips for Having ‘The Talk’ with Elderly Parents

8 Tips for Having 'The Talk' with Elderly Parents

Talking about estate planning is a difficult, emotional topic but it’s essential for every family.  These eight tips can help you discuss the hard topics thoroughly and respectfully and prepare you for the road ahead.

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Wills vs Trusts Webinar

Wills vs Trusts


Approximately 55% of American adults do not have a Will

  • 57% said they “just haven’t gotten around to making one”
  • 22% felt that making a will wasn’t urgent
  • 17% didn’t think they needed a will
  • 14% don’t have a will because they don’t want to think about death

What is a Trust?

  • A Trust is a contract or agreement between a Grantor and Trustee to hold assets (money, real property, objects, etc.) for the benefit of a beneficiary
  • Testamentary Trusts, which are inside your will and go into effect when you die
  • Living Trusts, which take effect during your lifetime
  • Many different types of Trusts depending on your needs and goals
  • Privacy

Download the Wills vs. Trusts 2020 Power Point Slides

Learn More about Harry Miller

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Elder Law and Estate Planning Basics

Elder Law and Estate Planning Basics

What is Elder Law?

  • Choosing someone to help you make health care decisions
  • Getting help managing your finances
  • Choosing someone to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated
  • Putting an estate plan into place
  • Planning ahead for your long term care needs

Everybody Needs Long Term Care

  • The number of seniors needing long term care is growing as Baby Boomers turn age 65
  • There are currently 44.7 million people in America age 65 and older, representing 14.1% of the US population, and that number is expected to double by 2060
  • Currently an estimated 12 million people need long term care, and that is estimated to grow to 27 million people by 2050
  • The lifetime probability of becoming disabled is 68% for people age 65 or older

How Do I Plan for Long Term Care?

  • Where do you want to receive services?
  • Who will provide your care?
  • How will you pay for your care?

Long Term Care Costs

Home Care

  • unpaid home care – spouse, children, family, friends
  • paid home health aides – average cost $24 per hour, costs vary depending on number of hours you need

Assisted Living

  • costs can range from $4,000 per month to $7,000 per month, depending on the level of assistance you need

Nursing Home

  • average cost is $15,000 per month

Download the Elder Law and Estate Planning Basics presentation PDF files

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What To Do When a Loved One Dies by Debra Verni

  • Confused about who is in charge?
  • Who to notify?
  • What are the immediate actions to take?
  • Who makes the arrangement and who gets what?
Let us make this heartbreaking event easier to manage.

Learn more about Debra Verni

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Your Coronavirus Checklist by Jane-Marie Schaffer

coronavirus checklist and estate planning guide

Your Coronavirus Checklist and Estate Planning Guide. Why you need a checklist? Do you have a list of bank accounts and bill so you can pay them while your loved one is in the hospital? Do you have a plan in place to take care of you or your loved ones in a crisis? Who will make decisions?

Learn more about Jane-Marie Schaffer

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Wills vs Trusts – Basic Estate Planning Documents by David Kubikian for Herzog Law Firm

Learn about Revocable & Irrevocable Trusts, Advance Directives, types of Wills and how to use them to benefit yourself and loved ones. Learn about protecting your home and assets and avoiding court & spend downs.

View more from Attorney David Kubikian.

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Estate Planning Webinar by David Kubikian, Herzog Law Firm

estate planning in prime time

Have you protected your home and investments, prepared for the cost of a nursing home, avoided unnecessary taxes, considered long-term care options? We will discuss current documents needed and how to protect you hard earned assets against Medicaid.

View more from Attorney David Kubikian.

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Estate Planning and Elder Law in the Age of COVID-19

Estate Planning and Elder Law in the Age of COVID-19

By David Kubikian, Esq., Herzog Law Firm P.C.

When did COVID-19 first enter your radar as something that would change our lives? Was it news about South Korea? Italy? Was it when Tom Hanks announced he had contracted the coronavirus? Or when every sport suspended its season? For estate planning attorneys, who by nature contemplate the future more than most, the radar had a blip in early February. It is about then that the casual conversations we normally have with clients prior to the serious business of estate and elder planning began to change. Conversations about their recent trips or future travel plans included some reference to that “virus thing”.

Pandemic Life Adjustment

A few weeks of government directives for closures and social distancing later, we are adjusting to pandemic life. Thankfully, food and supplies are available in local grocery stores and supermarkets. The banks and postal service are still running. And of course, the internet still works. Thank goodness for that. Internet means access to digital newspapers. Internet means lots of social media (the good and the bad). And for the world of estate planning and elder law, the internet means that the business of helping clients can continue.

Stay Home

In the age of COVID-19, it is simply not a good idea to be across the table from anyone except your family at dinner. Handshakes are forbidden and a random sneeze or cough in a supermarket will lead to people choosing to skip that aisle all together. But what if you need to create or update an estate plan? What if you lack the basic fundamental must-have documents like a health care proxy or power of attorney? What if you want to start your long term care plan now and don’t want to wait 6 months before getting the “5 year lookback” to start ticking? How do you go about meeting with an attorney and starting the process. Better yet, how, where, when and in front of whom do you sign your documents?

Maintaining Attorney / Client Connection

The answer starts with the internet and your phone. In-person consults have turned into phone conferences or better yet, video conferences through applications such as Zoom (one of the only winners from the pandemic). It is not the traditional face to face meeting but our office has still been able to create the important attorney/client connection. Perhaps it even helps focus conversations on the facts that the client presents once the small talk ends. The goal of an estate planning attorney is to not just hear a client’s story, it is to hear the WHOLE story, warts and all. The best legal diagnosis only comes with the entirety of the legal facts. The COVID-19 virus has not and will not prevent that all-too-important initial client meeting or any follow up calls and discussions.

Estate and Elder Law firms remain open to some degree with most operations having the majority of staff working remotely and a skeleton crew working to keep logistics in place. Documents get drafted in the case of estate planning and for elder law, we are still helping our clients get nursing home or home-care coverage from the Medicaid program. Thankfully the internet has made most aspects of estate planning and elder law business as usual. However, eventually clients need to sign their important legal documents and that, in a word, has been challenging.

Meeting Your Legal Needs

Whether it is a health care proxy or a will or a trust, witnesses or notaries (and sometimes both) are required under New York law. How does one go about witnessing a document without being in the room? How does a notary legally apply their stamp to a page without having the signor present themselves to the notary? Those are excellent questions which New York State has considered. In recent weeks, they have enacted guidelines for notarizing via video. The guidelines provide a lengthy checklist for notarizations to be valid but nonetheless, your important legal documents can be notarized. Witnessing a will is a bit more tricky but our profession is nothing if not creative. Our firm and many colleagues have implemented video conference procedures for document signings for certain documents as well as signing of critical documents in open air spaces with a well-choreographed procedure to prevent exposure to client or attorney. This includes but is not limited to clients using their own pens, appropriate physical distancing, and a safe post-signing document detoxification (for lack of a better word) and perhaps the most important, a pre-signing phone conference to explain documents to the client so the actual signing is shorter.

Our profession and our firm is committed to continuing to help our clients in their hour, days, weeks or months of need. Thankfully our state has provided guidance that will allow important documents to be signed and notarized. The fact is that the pandemic did not eliminate dementia or incapacity, death or family conflict and because those parts of life (and death) still exist, we need to accommodate our clients as best we can.

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