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How to Qualify for Medicaid in New York

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Medicaid in New York is a government sponsored healthcare option that covers the medical expenses for low-income patients who otherwise could not afford healthcare, such as those on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and others who meet the requirements for eligibility.

The New York state department developed eligibility requirements for New York Medicaid, and it starts with determining if a person falls into one of the following categories: adults who have an income that does not exceed 138% of the FPL (Federal Poverty Level), and infants and pregnant women whose income does not exceed 218% of the FPL.

To qualify for Medicaid in New York, besides needing to be in one of those two categories, you need to meet predetermined requirements for eligibility:

  • You have to reach, without exceeding certain income thresholds.
  • You have to prove that you are a citizen of the U.S., as well as a state resident.
  • You need to have documentation regarding your living situation; your marriage license if you are married; and your SSN (Social Security Number).

The application guidelines are different in New York than those in other states. The qualifying criteria are spread into two separate groups – MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) and non-MAGI, with application guidelines depending on which group you fall into.

The MAGI group includes children under 19, foster children, beneficiaries of the FPBP (Family Planning Benefit Program), relatives of caregivers or parents, women undergoing fertility treatments and pregnant women. If you fall into this group, apply for the Medicaid program via the New York State Department of Health Marketplace.

The non-MAGI eligibility group includes the following:

  • Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program
  • AIDS Health Insurance Program
  • Social Security Income
  • ADC-related medical needy
  • Medicare Savings Program

Pregnant women, children, disabled persons, and others may be eligible for Medicaid if their income is above the set levels and they have medical bills – ask your Medicaid worker if you fit into one of these groups.

Individuals who are certified blind, certified disabled, or age 65 or older who have more resources may also be eligible.

You can file the New York Medicaid Application online, in person with a navigator or certified application counselor, by mail, or on the phone. To apply in person, go to the District Service Office in your area. To file by mail, simply download and fill out the application and send the completed application to the District Social Service office in your area. To apply by phone, call the New York State Department of Health to get the right number for your area; make sure you have all of the information that you’ll need on hand before calling to file an application.

After you complete the Access NY Health Care application (DOH-4220), you may assign a representative who can apply for and/or renew Medicaid for you, discuss your Medicaid application or case and/or allow them to get notices and correspondence. To authorize or change a representative at renewal or anytime in between renewals, you may fill out the form DOH-5247 and submit it with your renewal.

People who receive Medicaid have privacy rights. The Medicaid application, Access NY Health Care, contains your rights under “Terms, Rights and Responsibilities.”

If you are dissatisfied with a decision made by the local social services district, you may request a conference with the agency, and you may also appeal to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and request a Fair Hearing.

Take steps today to get legal assistance in NYC and NY with a piece of mind knowing your rights and interests are protected – contact our experienced and reliable lawyers and estate attorneys at Levin Law Group today.

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How to Prepare for Estate Taxes

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Even if your assets are not the greatest, you want to know about estate taxes in your state – because it’s not only federal estate tax that can take a big chunk of your heirs’ inheritance but also the state taxes.

We put together some important info on estate taxes, and how you can prepare for them so they will be covered after your death, instead of becoming the responsibility of your beneficiaries.

IRS estate taxes are taxes on the privilege of transferring property to the deceased heirs, and an inheritance tax is a tax on the privilege of receiving property from a deceased benefactor.

The heir is responsible for paying an inheritance tax – it’s not the estate of the deceased, are it’s levied at the federal level. There is a federal estate tax and a state estate tax in some states.

Since 2013, the IRS estate tax exemption has been indexed for inflation; but it took a big jump for 2018 due to the new tax plan that President Trump signed in December 2017. The current federal estate tax rate is 40%.

If your estate is within the estate tax limits, and your intention is to leave the maximum amount of your assets to your heirs – some thorough estate tax planning is needed.

If you want to minimize the amount of your estate tax, you may want to get professional guidance as to how to reduce your assets, such as through a charitable donation (to be deducted at tax time), and giving to your heirs. If you give up to $15,000 a year, it is considered the annual gift tax exclusion. Each single filer or member of a married couple can give up to $15,000, to as many people as they want. If the gift amount is more than $15,000 to any one beneficiary, then the federal gift tax rate has to be paid, which is 40%, the same as the estate tax rate.

There are cases where the estate of a deceased accumulates income, known as Income in Respect of Decedent (IRD). It can be for a property sale that hasn’t gone through by the time the owner dies. If the estate is large, it might face double taxation at the federal level – first, the regular estate tax and second, the income tax on the IRD. The estate tax deduction ensures that the same assets are not taxed twice.

The federal estate tax affects cash, real estate, stock, or other assets that are transferred from a deceased person to his or her heirs.

Certain U.S. states, including New York, are levy estate taxes, which means that the estates of people who live there and whose assets are above the threshold for taxation will be taxed at both the federal and state level.

If you live in one of the states that have its own estate tax, less money will go to your heirs – so your beneficiaries have even more to gain from thoughtful estate planning and advanced gift making.

If you’re the person who’s in charge of paying estate taxes for someone who passed away, you may want to consider hiring a tax accountant and an estate lawyer to help you handle it the best way. In addition to estate taxes, separate income taxes may need to be filed for the deceased if his or her estate is generating income above IRS limits. To file a U.S. estate tax return, you’ll need to know the federal Taxpayer Identification Number (or TIN), which will be either an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for estate and trust returns or the decedent’s Social Security number (SSN) for his or her final Form 1040.

If you need to open a bank or brokerage account for an estate, you will need to apply for a TIN; this alerts the IRS that a new trust or estate exists – and tax returns from that entity will be expected even if there’s no obligation to file one.

You can wait for an IRS notice asking for a tax return and send a letter explaining that the estate did not have enough income to file; or, to avoid receiving such a notice altogether, prepare and file a return showing no income.

Seeking advice on when to file may be beneficial, because depending on how much income and when the estate stands to receive, using a different year-end could make a considerable difference in the total income tax. This is especially the case when the estate’s administration takes more than 12 months from start to finish. Creating a schedule of when and how much income you anticipate the estate to receive is a wise thing to do. An estate may select the last day of any month as its tax year-end, as long as the first year includes no more than 12 months.

Tax considerations are a very important issue to consider, since a properly prepared will can minimize tax liability.

It is always advisable to consult with a professional regarding your estate, inheritance, and gift taxes on both the federal and state levels.

At the Levin Law Group, our experienced wills and trusts lawyers in New York will assist you in advising and preparing a wide range of wills and estate planning documents.

Take steps today to ensure your wishes, interests and assets are protected – contact Levin Law Group New York wills and trust attorney regarding estate law.

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What Are the Most Common Types of Business Entities in New York?

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When preparing to launch a business, there’s a myriad of things to do, such as raising money, hiring staff, developing a marketing strategy, as well as highly important business and legal issues to consider. Choosing among the types of business entities is one of them, and it’s a decision that has very real legal and financial implications.

Thorough preparation is crucial for starting a new business – here are the most common types of entities in New York State and what you need to know about them:

C Corporation

A C-Corp is an independent legal entity. The company’s owners (shareholders) have control over the corporation, but one person in a C-Corp can fulfill the roles of a board of directors and officer.

There are many regulations and tax laws that the company must comply with, and it’s advisable to seek legal advice regarding methods for incorporating and required forms.

Pros of a C-Corp include: owners/shareholders don’t have personal liability for the business’s debts and liabilities; more tax deductions than any other type of business; lower self-employment taxes; ability to offer stock options.

Cons of a C-Corp: The company pays taxes on the corporate tax return, and then shareholders pay taxes on dividends on their personal tax returns; owners cannot deduct business losses on their personal tax return; corporation formation and maintenance can be complicated

Owners who invest profits back into the business as opposed to taking dividends are more likely to benefit under a corporate structure.

S Corporation

An S-Corp also has the limited liability, meaning owners (shareholders) don’t have personal liability for the business’s debts and liabilities; profits and losses pass through to the owners’ personal tax returns, and there’s no corporate-level taxation. There’ll be corporate formalities to comply with, such as creating bylaws and holding board and shareholder meetings.

Pros of an S-Corp: It’s a pass-through entity, so no corporate taxation and no double taxation. It can be a good choice for businesses that want a corporate structure but like the tax flexibility of a sole proprietorship or partnership.

Cons of an S-Corporation: may be more expensive to create; requires registration with the state; more limits on issuing stock vs. C-Corps.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC takes positive features from each of the other business entity types. It offers limited liability protections – owners don’t have personal liability for the business’s debts or liabilities.

You can choose how you want the IRS to tax your LLC and treat you as a corporation or as a pass-through entity on your taxes.

An LLC also requires registration with the state.

LLCs are popular among small business owners because of the ease of a sole proprietorship or partnership with the legal protections of a corporation; so if you’re a freelancer, this may be the best route to register your business.

Once you are certain which route to take, register your business as a Corporation, Limited Liability Company, or Limited Partnership with New York State. People may spend thousands of dollars and years of effort to develop a business, only to find out that it was not properly registered in the first place – so it’s wise to seek legal and business advice first.

One of the first steps towards assuring you are doing everything to protect your business is choosing a reputable and experienced business law attorney, corporate attorney, or LLC law firm to assist you in the intricate process of starting a business and to see that your legal bases are covered.

Careful planning and legal assistance could help you avoid mistakes leading to catastrophic financial and legal consequences – let our business attorney guide you through the process of selecting and registering a business entity and preparing business agreements between you and your partners.

Our proficient corporate lawyers are well equipped to assist you with business laws and customs and provide support with legal challenges when planning, structuring, and conducting business transactions within a wide range of industries.

Take steps today to set yourself up for greater chance of success in NYC and NY with a peace of mind from day one knowing your rights and interests are protected – contact Levin Law Group today.

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Gift Ideas for New Homeowners

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For most people, purchasing a new home is the most expensive transaction they’ll make in their life. For first time homebuyers, especially, it can be difficult to save money and energy for buying things for their new home – which is something that may need to wait until much later, or be a lovely gesture for their friends and family to give them.

If a friend or family member has recently purchased a new home, help them make a smooth transition by giving them a nice and useful gift – here are 8 ideas to choose from:

  1. Fix It Kit

Every home needs a collection of handy tools – and this portable, compact, kit has all the basics. The carry-on suitcase comes with a Hammer, LED Flashlight, Long-nose Pliers, 1M/3 Foot Tape Measure, Slot Screwdriver, Interchangeable Handle, 4 Sockets, 10 Assorted Screwdriver Bits, and Socket Extension. The tools are heat-treated and chrome-plated to resist corrosion.

Photo via uncommongoods.com

  1. The Echo

Help a new homeowner get the info they need at their fingertips, such as forecasting the weather or finding a local restaurant, and have their own “personal assistant” that will order a pizza, read an audiobook, or tell a joke, with the Echo or Echo Dot.

  1. The Home Owner’s Manual

Here’s a truly practical and useful gift – The Home Owner’s Manual by Dan Ramsey. This book is packed with tips, troubleshooting, and home-keeping advice on everything a new homeowner will need to know, with a good dose of humor!

Image via amazon.com

  1. Monogrammed Gifts

What better way to make new homeowners feel at home than with a monogrammed gift!

Go for an elegant Monogrammed Carafe for serving a bottle of their favorite wine, or give them a Monogrammed Doormat that will welcome other guests into their new home.

  1. Smart Phone Valet and Planter

Everyone has a smart phone nowadays, and having a practical yet esthetically pleasing charger is going to be welcome in any home. This smart phone valet features modern style and everyday usefulness – a home for a medium-sized succulent or another plant, and a vase for fresh cut flowers or a plant.

Photo via uncommongoods.com

Handmade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Heather and Myles Geyman, this ceramic phone dock with a clear gloss glaze holds your phone upright while it charges, and has modular design so that a vase and a pot can be used separately and the base becomes a storage for pens and pencils, keys, thumb drives, etc.

  1. Robot Vacuum

Give your friends or family the housewarming gift that will make a difference in their home life every day – clean floors that a robot vacuum will do for them!

iRobot Roomba Robot Vacuum comes with Wi-Fi Connectivity and compatibility with Alexa, and works well with pet hair, on the carpets as well as hard floors.

  1. Fire Extinguisher

Help keep your loved ones and their home safe – gift them a safety device that every home should have, but is often overlooked until much later (or when it’s too late!). Even though many new homes come with smoke detectors, it’s always wise to have a fire extinguisher on hand. Also, a safety ladder may be a good idea if there are 2+ stories.

  1. Hang-o-Matic Picture Hanging Tool

Finally, most new homeowners will have some (or lots) of photographs and art to hang, so giving them a tool that will make hanging a row of pictures straight an easy task is surely going to be appreciated! The Hang-o-matic will mark the exact spot on the wall where the nail needs to go, plus it comes with a built-in level and tape measure.

Buying a first home can be very exciting, and also stressful, since there is a number of complex steps and potential pitfalls – our real estate lawyers at the Levin Law Group, are here to help you or someone you know navigate the complicated waters of buying a home.

To ensure your interests are protected – contact the Levin Law Groups experienced and dedicated real estate attorneys today.

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Famous People Who Died Without a Will

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There is never an ideal or perfect time to think about your death, but planning for your death by talking to a wills and estate attorney and creating a will is crucial. You might not think you have a lot of material items, but families in their grief can fight over who was supposed to get what heirloom or inheritance.

According to Forbes in a survey of those who do not have a will in place 60% indicated they simply haven’t gotten around to making one yet while 27% don’t feel that it’s urgent. Another survey conducted found that 64% of Americans don’t have a will. That percentage is higher for younger Americans, aged 45-54, than for older Americans, aged 55-64. But death can be unpredictable and come at any age.

Prince Rogers Nelson

(Better known as Prince) was 57 years old when he passed away. His death made headlines when it was made known that he did not leave behind a will since his property estate is worth over 300 million dollars.

By having a will, you can minimize your estate taxes for whomever you entrust your home and belongs to. The value of what you give away to family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.

While Prince’s family seem civil to each other during this tragic and anguish filled time, not all families are the same.

Jimi Hendrix

Died of an unfortunate overdose in 1970 and he too did not create a will. For decades after his death, members of his family participated in legal fights over his 80 million estate. Recently in 2009, his siblings went to court over the rights to the musician’s iconic image.

Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul and first women in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, left no will when she passed away in her home in Detroit, Michigan on August 16, 2018, at the age of 76. Her four sons filed a document at the Oakland County Probate Court, calling themselves interested parties concerning her massive estate, estimated to be worth $80 million. Michigan law dictates the estate of an unmarried person must be divided equally between their children. Her decision to leave out an official will may have song collaborators and distant relatives fighting for a piece of the inheritance.

Abraham Lincoln

Did not have a will in place when he was assassinated in 1865. Following his unexpected death, the family enlisted Justice David Davis of the United States Supreme Court to take care of his estate. Davis went on to petition the court to declare that the President’s $85,000 estate be divided by his wife and two living children.

A will contains more than just your assets and who shall receive what. Guardianship information for minor children and pets, selection of an executor (person that will manage your affairs after death) and burial or cremation instructions are included in the will.

To avoid the added stress on families during an already emotional time, it may be wise to meet with an estate planning lawyer to help you draw up a basic estate plan at the minimum, before it’s too late.

Our knowledgeable attorneys represent clients in both New York and New Jersey, including all 5 boroughs of NYC (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island), Long Island (both Nassau and Suffolk county), Westchester, Orange and Putnam counties as well as North and Central Jersey.

Our lawyers look forward to helping you. Please give us a call today at (800) 517-5240 and allow us to serve you.

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What You Need to Know About Elderly Guardianship

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If you have an elderly person in your life who is no longer able to care for himself or herself, there are some legal things to consider.

Elderly guardianship, or elderly conservatorship, is a legal term for a relationship between a court appointed individual caring for an elderly person who is no longer able to do so for himself or herself.

An appointed guardian has certain duties and responsibilities to the elderly person, so it’s wise to get educated on the process and the factors to consider.

Here are some things you need to know about Elderly Guardianship, when to consider it and how to get it:

When an elderly person becomes unable to care for himself or herself, which could include not remembering to take necessary medications, maintaining regular hygiene, or properly managing finances, it may be in his or her best interest if a court appoints a guardian.

Different states have different guardianship processes and requirements, but generally speaking, the following people or entities can petition a court to designate a guardian for elderly conservatorship:

• The elderly person
• A spouse or domestic partner of the elderly person
• A relative of the elderly person
• A friend of the elderly person
• A state or local government agency

As far as the duties and responsibilities of a guardian, they all start and end with that the guardian putting the interests of the elderly person first. They may include deciding where the elderly person will live, how to keep the elderly person as healthy as possible, how to prepare a budget based on the elderly person’s finances, and how to handle recreation and social contact.

The elderly guardianship process can be extensive and complex. This is understandable, since this means the elderly person will lose some vital rights and have his or her care entrusted to another person.

The process usually involves the following:

• Filing a Petition for Appointment of Conservator form
• Informing the elderly person, along with his or her relatives, of the petition for guardianship
• A court investigator determining whether the proposed guardianship is necessary
• A court hearing so the judge can review the guardianship petition and determine whether the elderly person lacks the ability to care for himself or herself, and decides whether to grant the petition

Guardianship petitions are usually expensive, and can involve numerous forms to fill out, many procedural requirements, and several court hearings – and become even more complex and with significant consequences if there’s any opposition to a proposed guardianship.

Depending on the state you live in, possible alternatives to elderly guardianship include:

• Living Trust
• Representative Payeeship
• Power of Attorney
• Standby Guardianship

All of these possible alternatives involve the elderly person willingly assigning his or her rights to another person, but if he or she is unable to do so because of mental incapacity, they are no longer available.

If you’re considering an elderly guardianship for yourself or for a loved one, or if you’re thinking about serving as a guardian, you should consult with an experienced and trustworthy lawyer.

When searching for top New York State and New Jersey real estate law firms, trust the Levin Law Group to assist you with a wide spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions.

We invite you to contact us today and receive a free consultation with our skilled and dependable wills and estate attorney and probate attorney.

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What to Consider When Buying a Property with In-Law Quarters

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Buying a property is a big financial investment and one of the most complex transactions. 

If you’re thinking about buying a home with a mother-in-law apartment, a mother-in-law suite, guest house or in-law quarters – weighing the pros and cons is a great way to start.

Guest homes typically include a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living space and a separate entrance from the primary home. If it’s a secondary housing unit completely independent of the main house, it may be considered an official accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, which can be attached or detached and are often rented out to tenants.

While having an attached or detached guest home has many benefits, understanding the potential hassle and costs involved is essential – so you can make an educated decision if this is the right direction for you (and your family).

Benefits of Having In-law Quarters

The top reason why people opt to have a mother-in-law apartment on their property is to house a live-in nanny, aging parent or other family member(s), as it’s a great low-cost alternative to having to pay for costly housing expenses.

One of the most common benefits is also the convenience of having a family member or a nanny in such close proximity, allowing everyone to live near each other while still retaining their own separate living spaces.

Having a separate dwelling on your property also means you can host guests, without having to share your own home space. If you often have visitors, having a separate guest home will certainly make life easier – since everyone will have complete privacy.

Another benefit to a property with another dwelling is that it offers additional storage space, especially if you don’t have a basement or a garage to store extra furniture, sports equipment, seasonal stuff, etc.

Finally, there’s the potential rental income, which can be an excellent way to earn additional passive income on a monthly basis. If you are able to rent out your in-law quarters, it can help pay for home renovations, family vacations and general day-to-day expenses.

Cons of Having In-Law Quarters

One of the main downsides to having a separate guest home is the high utility costs – higher water bill, as well as higher energy bills.

Also, you may need to deal with the insurance costs, so first check whether or not your current homeowners’ insurance policy will also cover an accessory dwelling unit. If you’re renting the guesthouse to tenants, you may need to get additional insurance to properly protect your home.

Another drawback is that there will be more day-to-day upkeep – from in-house cleaning to clearing gutters and other home maintenance, which can be time consuming and expensive. And if you become a landlord, know that it takes a lot of work, performing repairs and maintenance plus finding the right tenants can surely become burdensome.

If you’re planning on building a mother-in-law suite, you may have to deal with city zoning regulations and strict building codes, and if your home is located in a historic district, it’ll make the addition even more difficult to accomplish.

Bottom line: If you can be with the drawbacks, having a property with an attached or detached in-law quarters is a great way to accommodate your aging parent, another family member, a nanny or a guest, increase the value of your home and improve its resale potential.

As with any complex transactions, a lot can go wrong with a home purchase, resulting in long-term financial consequences, so consider working with an experienced real estate attorney who is up to date in current real estate laws of your state.

At the Levin Law Group, our real estate lawyers are here to help you navigate the complicated waters of buying a home. Take steps to ensure your interests and assets are protected – contact the Levin Law Group’s experienced and dedicated real estate attorneys today.

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What You Need To Know When Starting A Business (Infographic)

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If starting your own business has crossed your mind, there are a few things you should know. We show you this information in an Infographic:

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What to Do After a Loved One Dies

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Facing the death of a loved one can be daunting; losing a loved one is extremely challenging, and often the most painful kind of experience. Having to handle some important decisions can only make it even more overwhelming.

As one starts his or her own grieving process, in addition to making funeral plans and notifying friends and family, there are also several critical financial items that need to be addressed. During such difficult time, it’s helpful to know which steps exactly one needs to take, and knowing what to do with finances can at least bring some comfort and order to the survivors.

We put together a list of things to do after a loved one passes away to help guide you during such emotionally and otherwise hard time:

Obtain Death Certificates

Your first step is to contact the Vital Statistics office in the state in which the death occurred, and possibly through the funeral home, and request several certified copies of the death certificate. You will need a copy for each of the entities listed below, and most will require an original certified document.

Locate The Will 

You need the original will, as the court will not accept a copy. Once you have the original, register the will at the local probate office.

Probate The Estate

If your loved one had a will and you are named executor of his or her estate, you have a long list of additional responsibilities. You may want to consult an estate attorney to help you through the probate process, as you will need to obtain letters testamentary giving proof that you have a right to handle the deceased’s financial affairs.

If you are not the named executor, the actual executor may need your help carrying out final wishes and distributing property.

If there was no will, state law will typically provide a list of people who could serve in this capacity.

Notify Financial Institutions

Once you have the death certificates and the letters testamentary, the next step is to contact any insurance company where your loved one had a policy, such as employer-sponsored plans, individually owned policies, mortgage cancellation plans and policies issued by associations, banks and credit card companies. Some of these policies, may only provide benefits if the death resulted from an accident, while others may provide an additional benefit for accidental death.

Take steps to fulfill any outstanding liabilities.

Next, you’ll need to notify all savings and investment companies where the deceased had an account, including both individually owned accounts and joint accounts.

Upon receiving the notification of the death, the company will most likely freeze the accounts, so plan accordingly to avoid any hardship. Once you provide a death certificate and letters testamentary for each account, new accounts will be set up in the names of the heirs so that the assets can be received.

Mortgage companies and other loan providers and credit card companies need to be notified, as these debts are now obligations of the deceased’s estate and need to be paid off by the assets of the estate. If the decedent was married, the responsibility may transfer to the spouse.

Note: it’s wise to contact the credit bureaus and report the death to prevent identity theft after their passing, and request a copy of the deceased’s credit report.

Notify Government Agencies

Contact appropriate government agencies to start and/or end benefits, such as: a one-time $255 death benefit from the Social Security Administration potentially payable to the surviving spouse or children; survivor benefits available for children under age 16 (or disabled children of any age) and to spouses or ex-spouses (if they were married to the deceased for at least 10 years).

Additionally, if the deceased served in the armed forces, there may be Veteran’s Administration survivor benefits for the spouse and/or the children of the deceased. These benefits are fairly complicated so it’s best to contact the VA to determine if they qualify.

Notify The Person’s Employer

If applicable, contact your loved one’s employer, as you will need to handle retirement plan distributions, employer-purchased insurance payouts and ensure that any vacation pay due goes to beneficiaries.

Otherwise, contact any pension providers to see if the pension benefit includes survivor payments.

Contact Service Providers

Utility companies and other service providers need to be notified so they can discontinue or change the service. You may want to review bank and credit card statements to identify other less obvious monthly recurring charges, such as gym memberships, home security systems, etc.

Take steps to fulfill any outstanding liabilities.

File Tax Returns

Federal and state income tax returns, and possibly estate tax returns, will need to be filed. Typically, a federal estate-tax filing is required for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $3.5 million and due within nine months of the death; state estate tax rules can vary.

Consult An Estate Attorney

Finally, whether you’re not comfortable handling an estate, or you just want to ensure you are properly completing all the tasks, consulting an estate attorney can give you a peace of mind, and save you a lot of time and headaches.

Since the laws vary from state to state, it’s wise to consult with a knowledgeable estate lawyer. 

We invite you to contact us so we can help you take steps to ensure your wishes, interests and assets are protected, and to assist you in handling an estate of your loved one – contact Levin Law Group’s trustworthy estate attorney today for a free consultation.

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What To Know About Writing Your Will

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Do you keep putting off writing your will? We don’t blame you, writing a will is a way of admitting our mortality, and no one wants to think about passing away. However, it is very important to have a will written properly to ensure your final wishes are carried out when that does happen.

Here are top 7 general things to know about writing a will:

What Is A Will?

It’s a legal document in which you, the testator, declare who will manage your estate after you die.

The person named in the will to manage your last wishes and estate is called the executor. Your estate can consist of anything from a big mansion or a vacation home to trinkets or photographs that hold sentimental value. You can declare who you want to receive specific items that you own, and the person designated to receive any of your property is called a beneficiary.

A will can also state whom you wish to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents.

All wills must meet certain standards such as being witnessed to be legally valid.

Note that some types of property, including certain insurance policies and retirement accounts, generally are not covered by a will.

You should list your beneficiaries when you take out the policies or open the accounts. Make sure it’s all up to date, since what you have on file when you die should dictate who receives those assets.

What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

When there’s no valid will, your estate will usually be settled based on the laws of your state that outline who inherits what. That’s called intestate.

Probate is the legal process of transferring the property to the rightful heirs.

When there’s no named executor, a judge appoints an administrator. This also happens if a will is deemed to be invalid. Requirements vary from state to state.

Since an administrator will most likely be a stranger to you and your family, and they may make decisions that wouldn’t necessarily align with your wishes or those of your heirs.

Do I Need An Attorney To Prepare My Will?

You are not required to hire a lawyer to prepare your will, although an experienced lawyer can provide useful advice on estate-planning strategies such as living trusts, and make sure that your will meets the legal requirements of your state. Consider seeking an estate lawyer free consultation.

While you’re creating or updating your will, think about preparing other essential estate-planning documents, such as financial and health care powers of attorney to ensure that your wishes are carried out while you’re still alive.

Who Should I Name As My Executor?

Your spouse, an adult child, or another trusted friend or relative could be named an executor of your will.

However, if your affairs are complicated, you may want to consider naming an attorney or someone with legal and financial expertise. Also, you can name joint executors, such as your spouse or partner and your attorney.

One of the most important things your will can do is empower your executor to settle any bills or debt you may have, so it’s crucial that your will clearly allows for this.

Where Should I Keep My Will?

It’s important to keep your will in a safe yet accessible place, especially since a probate court usually requires your original will before it can process your estate.

If your will is kept in a bank safe deposit box that only you have access to, your family might need to seek a court order to gain access. A good alternative is a waterproof and fireproof safe in your house.

Also, your attorney or someone you trust should keep signed copies. This would help in case the original is destroyed to establish your intentions; however, the absence of an original will can complicate matters, leaving no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you’d hoped.

How Often Does A Will Need To Be Updated?

It’s really up to you – that your will may never need to be updated, or you may choose to update it regularly.

The only version of your will that matters is the one that is most current and valid at the time of your death.

It may be a good idea to revisit your will at times of major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary or executor, a significant purchase or inheritance.

Also, you might still need to name guardians if you have any disabled dependents.

Just to be safe, review your will every two or three years.

Who Has The Right To Contest My Will?

Contesting a will means challenging the legal validity of all or part of the document, and a beneficiary who feels slighted by the terms of a will could choose to contest it.

Also, depending on the state, a spouse, ex-spouse or child who believes your stated wishes go against local probate laws may contest your will.

Other reasons a will could be contested include that it wasn’t properly witnessed; you weren’t competent when you signed it; it’s the result of coercion or fraud – and it’s commonly up to a probate judge to settle the dispute. The best defense is always a clearly drafted and validly executed will.

It is never too early or too late to begin thinking about a last will and estate planning, and making one is usually a rather simple and inexpensive process, especially considering that it can give you peace of mind, and save your family time, money and grief.

At the Levin Law Group, our experienced wills and trusts attorneys in New York will assist you in advising and preparing a wide range of estate planning documents. We have supervised and probated thousands of wills for families just like yours.

We invite you to contact us so we can help you take steps to ensure your wishes, interests and assets are protected. Get a will prepared by a trustworthy trust and wills attorney in NYC.

For an estate lawyer free consultation – contact Levin Law Group today: 1-(800) 517-5240.

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Our 13 office locations are listed below.  We have 11 offices in New York (6 offices in New York City, 2 in Long Island, 3 in Lower Hudson Valley) and 2 offices in New Jersey.

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BROOKLYN OFFICE°°°
2620 E.18th Street, Suite 2
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 989-9629

BRONX OFFICE***
2010 Williamsbridge Rd.
Bronx, NY 10461
(347) 923-3880

MANHATTAN OFFICE (DOWNTOWN)***
222 Broadway, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10007
(212) 365-0934

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New York, NY 10027
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QUEENS OFFICE***
3537 36th Street
Astoria, NY 11106
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STATEN ISLAND OFFICE***
307 Sand Lane
Staten Island, NY 10305
(718) 554-5687

LONG ISLAND

NASSAU COUNTY OFFICE***
1225 Franklin Avenue, Suite 325
Great Neck, NY 11021
(516) 558-0045

SUFFOLK  COUNTY OFFICE***
445 Broad Hollow Rd., Suite 25
Melville, NY 11747
(631) 306-0057

LOWER HUDSON VALLEY

DUTCHESS COUNTY OFFICE***
42 Catherine Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 208-9238

ROCKLAND COUNTY OFFICE***
3 E Evergreen Road
New City, NY 10956
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WESTCHESTER COUNTY OFFICE***
199 Main Street, 4th Floor
White Plains, NY 10601
(914) 274-2045

NEW JERSEY

ESSEX COUNTY OFFICE***
16 Orange Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Telephone #: (732) 474-6410

MONMOUTH COUNTY OFFICE***
50 US Highway 9 North 125
Morganville, NJ 07751
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