Author Archives: George Bischof

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About George Bischof

George Bischof is a trusts & estates attorney, partner at Bischof & Bischof PLLC in New York, New York.

EMAIL: george@bischoflegal.com

BIO: About George

PHONE: 212-867-9120

Could Your Divorce Benefit from an Insurance Trust?
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Authored by , re: Family & Divorce, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
Could Your Divorce Benefit from an Insurance Trust? | George Bischof

{3:15 minutes to read} An insurance trust is a trust designed to hold insurance policies. Like traditional insurance, the policy will create a death benefit if the insured dies, which creates a source of funds. Anyone can benefit from using an insurance trust. Two major benefits: 1) the insurance death benefit is not taxable as part of your estate, and 2) you can control what happens with the money. A standalone insurance policy will name a beneficiary,

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Estate Administration: Think the Tortoise, Not the Hare
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .
Estate Administration: Think the Tortoise, Not the Hare | George Bischof

{2 minutes to read} Just as in life, after death, nothing happens instantaneously. The period during which an estate is being administered can last anywhere from several months to several years. During that time, the value of the estate can increase or decrease depending upon whether it’s held as stocks, cash, securities, real estate, or other types of assets. The reasons for which an estate may have to be kept open for a period of months or years can vary substantially and may include:

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Standby Guardianship: What Every Parent Needs to Know!
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Authored by , re: Financial Planning & Insurance, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
Standby Guardianship: What Every Parent Needs to Know | George Bischof

{3:20 minutes to read} Standby guardianship is a role that can come up where a parent is not dead, but for some reason is unreachable or unavailable. For example, the parents are vacationing in the Caribbean and the children are with trusted neighbors; then a hurricane rolls through, and because of damage/blackouts, the parents are unreachable. Or consider an out-of-town car accident that results in the parents being hospitalized and unreachable.

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What Every Gun Owner Should Know About Including Firearms in Their Will
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Authored by , re: Financial Planning & Insurance, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
What Every Gun Owner Should Know About Including Firearms in Their Will | George Bischof

{2:45 minutes to read} While the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms, no one lives forever. Make plans for the ultimate transfer of firearms when the time comes. Firearms are property. If you legally own them, you can legally dispose of them. For the person doing the planning, and who owns firearms and wants to dispose of them by will, there are a lot of things that an administrator or executor may not be aware of, some of which have short deadlines.

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Latest Changes to New York Estate Tax
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Authored by , re: Financial Planning & Insurance, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
Latest Changes to New York Estate Tax | George Bischof

{4:25 minutes to read} In the New York State budget for 2015-2016, the state legislature updated New York’s estate tax law again, but some hoped-for “fixes” were not included. Last year at this time, New York’s estate tax underwent significant change. The legislature raised the exemption from one million dollars per person to just over two million per person. They also proposed that exemptions increase an additional amount each year, for several successive years, until they match the federal exemption --

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Frozen Eggs, Sperm & Embryos, Oh My!
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Authored by , re: Financial Planning & Insurance, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, on .
Frozen Eggs Sperm & Embryos Oh My | George Bischof

{2:45 minutes to read} You know that estate planning involves (among other things) appointing fiduciaries and dealing with property. But what exactly is “property”? It’s not always so clear. For most purposes of wills and estates, “property” is defined state-by-state. (We’ve seen that play out recently in some of the state law that’s evolving around “digital property.”) Issues surrounding “genetic material” is another area where state law defining “property” is rapidly (but unevenly) evolving:

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What to Look for in an Estate Planning Attorney
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .
What to Look for in an Estate Planning Attorney | George Bischof

Time to read: 4:40 minutes} Keep these factors in mind when shopping for an attorney. Qualification The more complex your situation, the more you’ll want someone with planning expertise. But note that the need for expertise isn't just a function of how much money you have; it’s really more about issues like selecting the right executors/guardians/trustees; planning for special needs children; addressing the treatment of a non-US-citizen spouse, or handling property out-of-state or overseas. You want to make sure your planner can do all the drafting you need.

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Stalwarts of Country Music… Divorce
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
Stalwarts of Country Music... Divorce | George Bischof

{Time to Read: 2.5 minutes} The real trigger for reviewing one’s estate plan should not be when a divorce is final, but rather when the divorce process is under way.

Let’s state the obvious: Divorce is clearly a trigger for doing a new round of estate planning. It’s a major life change. But what may not be obvious is the value of reviewing estate planning choices on the front end of what may be a multi-year process.

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Choosing a Non-Resident Alien as Guardian
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Choosing a Non-Resident Alien as Guardian | George Bischof

{Time to read: 3.5 minutes} In New York State, the mechanism of using a local co-fiduciary enables the courts to give effect to the parents’ choice, to use a non-resident as guardian of their children, while still maintaining their institutional connection to the situation. Sometimes people want to name as a guardian for their children a person designated as a non-resident alien - a person who is not a United States citizen and who does not live in the United States.

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It’s Time to Set Your Estate Planning Resolutions
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
It’s Time to Set Your Estate Planning Resolutions | George Bischof

For families who have taken the time to do estate planning, year end is an appropriate time to take stock and put any new changes on your new year to do list.

The following checklist may seem basic, but will provide the peace of mind estate planning is meant to bring.

#1: Do you know where your estate planning documents are?

 Many attorneys will provide a binder or a special file for people to keep their estate planning papers in, but it is important to check where the originals are - especially the original wills.

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Ensuring Your Estate Plans Don’t End Up in the Wrong Hands
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Authored by , re: FINANCIAL ARTICLES, Financial Planning & Insurance, on .
Ensuring Your Estate Plans Don’t End Up in the Wrong Hands | George Bischof

It is relatively simple to ensure certain persons are not considered as fiduciaries of your estate. Mechanically, it’s simple to prevent someone from serving as a fiduciary in your estate plan: In the section where you nominate those people who should serve, you include an instruction that a particular person should NOT serve or be considered by the court. You can use strong language such as: “They should not serve in any circumstances.”

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When to Use a Trust or LLC to Hold Real Property
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

To determine whether to use a trust or an LLC to hold real property, one must understand the characteristics and effects of each.

An LLC is probably easier to set up on the front end and will give you more flexibility in terms of using it for business or investment purposes, but an LLC will likely involve greater ongoing time and attention. A trust may involve more attorney time to set up initially.

For most purposes, owners are going to prefer an LLC - a limited liability company. An LLC is better for commercial purposes if dealing with third parties, such as tenants, and can be more convenient if the owner plans to make gifts of minority interests in the underlying property. Generally it’s easier to make a gift of LLC shares than to amend a trust to include a beneficiary. For some situations, such as (i) a personal residence or vacation property, or (ii) when it’s clear who should inherit the property when the owner dies, a trust may be both sufficient and simple to establish initially.

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Estate Planning Pitfalls for Non-U.S. Persons
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

When we talk about estate planning for married couples, the principal drafting tool is the “marital deduction,” which lets the first spouse pass assets to the surviving spouse on an estate-tax-deductible basis. Is there a limit to how much? For U.S. citizen spouses, there is no limit at all. BUT, not everyone realizes that the marital deduction does not apply to spouses who are not U.S. citizens.

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Three Areas You Should Consider in Your Digital Estate Plan
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

Digital estate planning is the aspect of estate planning dealing with non-physical property, especially online or in the cloud, or in electronic accounts.

There are three areas of digital estate planning:

The first area is online assets that have financial value.

For example, a brokerage account that is only accessible online; an online bank account; an eBay account; or a sales account from a business where the value of it is only accessible online. Where there’s a financial value - something that can be measured readily in dollars - then that obviously has a value, and the executor or administrator would have a duty to collect it.

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Which State To Trust?
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

A variety of factors determine the “situs” of a trust - where it is administered - with all kinds of legal, filing and tax consequences. Unlike corporations, the typical estate planning trust is not created by filing papers with a government agency. This type of trust is created when:

  1. A trust instrument is signed;
  2. The person creating the trust transfers property to a trustee; and
  3. The trustee accepts the property in his role “as trustee.”

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Looking for a “good” trustee? Consider the beneficiaries first!
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

What makes for a “good” trustee depends a lot on where the beneficiaries are in life. There are four phases of a beneficiary’s life that call for slightly different trustee skills:

  1. The Beneficiary is a Minor
Parents of minors must name both guardians and trustees. The guardian cares for the minor - dresses her, gets her to school, teaches her to drive. During this period, the trustee distributes funds to satisfy the immediate needs of the child’s upbringing, all while saving and investing for college and beyond. Working hand in hand with the guardian, a good trustee offers wisdom and insight into the child-rearing process and prudently balances the immediate financial needs of the child with the future needs of adulthood. The paradigm is check-and-balance.

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After New Law, Estate Planning Triggers Unchanged
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

You've seen the headlines regarding New York's new (as of April 1, 2014) estate tax exemption amounts, especially the good news that many, many New York families no longer have to worry about their exposure to New York’s estate tax. Nevertheless, even if your estate falls below the new, higher thresholds for estate taxation, reaching out to an estate planning attorney is a smart move. The reasons to prepare a will and ensure your estate planning matters are in order are the same now as they were before these complex provisions became laws:

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What is a Living Will and Why Is It Important?
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

A Living Will, like a Health Care Proxy, is an important estate planning document to have in advance of a medical crisis.

Sometimes confused with a Last Will and Testament, which dictates who gets what property and who is responsible for it after your death, a Living Will is important at the end of life before you die.

A Living Will expresses your wish about the standard of care you wish to receive at the very end of life.

A Living Will might say: “If I am at the end of my life, when the only care I’ll be receiving is to prevent or prolong death, and I have no chance of recovery or improved quality of life, then there are certain things I do not want.” Items that people typically want to refuse when in a terminal state are:

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Why We All Should Have a Health Care Proxy
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

For people who want to be fully prepared for what life throws at them, the Health Care Proxy is a key legal document.

I sometimes call this “the document you need when you get hit by a bus and you don’t die.” In a best-case scenario, you can talk to your doctor and make your own decisions regarding your care. But in the medical emergency/accident scenario, it’s quite likely a person won’t be conscious or able to make his/her own decisions. In those situations, a Health Care Proxy is the tool for the job.

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Governor Cuomo Proposes Changes to NY’s Estate Tax and Gift Tax
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

New York is one of only fourteen states that tax estates. That means in addition to the federal estate tax, a New York estate could be paying another 9% - 16% to Albany - a fact that some believe is leading to a migration from New York to other states. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new budget proposes several major changes to New York’s estate tax.

First some background: The federal estate tax applies to people who have an estate of $5.34 million or more, and they typically pay a rate of 40%. So the federal system has a big exemption, but a high tax rate. New York’s system affects many more taxpayers because the personal exemption of $1 million is so much lower, notwithstanding the lower 9% - 16% rate.

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Who will be my Guardian?
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

In the administration of a decedent’s estate involving minors, one of the most important roles to cast is the Guardian.

A guardian is a person appointed to take care of another person, as in cases which include minor children who have survived their parents.  

Many of the parents who come in to see me have children below the age of 18. Most already have some general ideas about family/friends who would be a good choice for this role, but often there are questions about geography (where will the kids live?), guidelines (is there a religion question?) or qualification (selection might be contingent on that person remaining married). And even when these “qualifying questions” aren't on the lips of prospective clients, it’s a good planner’s job to spot these issues.

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How to Name a Good Executor
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Trusts, Estates & Elder law, on .

When the time comes for the judge to read your will and decide who’s going to be in charge of handling your estate, you’ll want him or her to have guidance for a variety of contingencies.

Think you’ve got a fantastic estate plan because your whip-smart attorney brother will be your executor? That’s a good start, but it may not be enough. What if he’s not around?  What if your other attorney brother would be a horrible choice? The difference between a good estate plan and a great estate plan can turn on making sure you have a good roster, not just a star center. After all, your fabulous siblings aren’t going to live forever, either.

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