Feature Article … From New York
– By Edgar Henry.

Death, which is inevitable, keeps knocking at our doors. We do not know when our number will be called. Hence, we have to be prepared via the planning procedure. Getting ready for the time when we will not be around is something everyone needs to do; yet it is a task that is so easy to postpone.

Whether we own Real Estate or not, no one is pushing us to make future decisions; but we all like to think there is always “tomorrow.” It is probably not difficult for you to think of someone in your own family or that of a friend who waited until it was too late. Consequently, the remaining family members had to live with the emotional and financial damage that comes from a lack of planning. Too often, and in particular, people of color decline to embark in this area causing anguish and pain to those who are left behind. This allows room for state intervention and long drawn out costly procedures – all because there was no plan of action set in place.

A will is a legal document that protects your assets and helps minimize the chances of a contest over your estate. If you die without one, your estate would be distributed according to a rigid legal formula and perhaps not as you may have wished.

A Living Will is a legal document – also known as an Advanced Health Care Directive – that specifies the medical care you would like to receive if you are ever permanently unconscious or otherwise dying and unable to speak for yourself. For example, if medical treatment would only prolong your death, you may specify – or assign someone to make that decision – that treatment be halted.

A Living Trust

All your assets can be placed into a Living Trust Agreement, while you are still alive. When you pass away, your assets will automatically transfer to the heirs without going through the time consuming and expensive probate court system. You can add to the Living Trust or revoke it entirely at any time you wish while you are alive.

Avoid the Agony

Regardless whether you have done any planning in the past now is the opportune moment to make sure that the wicket is properly prepared as the batsmen and bowlers get ready for the future game plan especially with the technology and resources we have today. Will forms are easily accessible there are standard forms, which could be purchased from most legal stationery outlets, or forms that could be downloaded from the internet.

The question is asked, “Do you have an up to date will, durable power of attorney, power of attorney for health care, directive to physicians, or a living will?” Even if you are using a revocable trust as a will substitute, you will need a will for any assets that do not make it into the trust, and if you have minor children, to name the children’s guardian mainly for protection and safeguard to have some control over the unforeseeable future.

If you’re married, do both of your wills provide that everything passes outright to the surviving spouse? If so, and your combined estates are likely to exceed $650,000 (including the value of such assets as personal residences, retirement plans, and life insurance policies), the estate of the surviving spouse is probably needlessly going to owe estate tax (that starts at a 37% rate and goes as high as 55%). The most common way to reduce or eliminate this problem is to provide in each spouse’s will for a so-called bypass or credit-shelter trust.

Do most of your assets, such as retirement plans and life insurance policies, have a named beneficiary; or perhaps are they held as joint tenants with right of survivorship or in some other manner that causes them to pass outside the control of your will? If so, even though your will provides for a bypass trust, it may not work as intended because of a shortage of assets under the will’s control that can be used to fund the trust.

If your estate will likely exceed $650,000 (or yours and your spouse’s $1.3 million), have you considered additional planning techniques such as making gifts to family members; transferring life insurance policies to an irrevocable life insurance trust; or setting up a family limited partnership, charitable trust, or qualified personal residence trust to reduce or eliminate the estate tax that will ultimately be due?

Register and attend our real estate and banking seminar on July 25th at the For Goodness Steak & Seafood Restaurant in Brooklyn where you will receive information on Deeds to coincide with your will process.


Are you maximizing the tax-free or tax-deferred advantages of your Roth IRA, traditional IRA, and other retirement plan accounts by carefully choosing who you name as primary and secondary beneficiaries? I could go on, but you probably get the idea. It cannot be denied that each person has his or her own needs, and situations vary from individual to individual. The point is there are numerous opportunities to save potentially tens or even hundreds of thousands of tax dollars. However, it’s up to you to take the first step. Call your family attorney for further in depth professional advice before it is too late.

Stop procrastinating. Think wisely as the clock of life keeps ticking and ticking and ticking. Remember that time and tide waits for no man. “It is always better to have information and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

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