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Trusts & Estates ARTICLES

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Digital Article: Too Busy To Die

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

“Separation is very important,” Kestenbaum said. “Don’t tie these people together. Utilize neutral persons in roles if there is a concern with disputes. If there are multiple parties involved with competing interests, then perhaps a neutral party should be the one overseeing the estate. And if it’s not a neutral party, put it in dispute resolution. So if there is an argument or a dispute, there could be provisions in the documents to decide how the disputes are resolved.”

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Trusts & Estates: Preventing Morbid Litigation

By: Amy F. Altman

Amy F. Altman discusses why you should ask clients about their funeral arrangements. For some, this topic may be overwhelming, morbid and an issue they would rather avoid. Not surprisingly, some clients may reason that the individual nominated as executor will also be responsible for the disposition of their remains. In some jurisdictions, the nominated executor may not […]

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Trusts & Estates: Don’t Be Afraid of Questions

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

An article by Avi Z. Kestenbaum. January 2017

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WSJ Podcast (Audio): Should Children Inherit Assets Jointly or Separately?

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

Wall Street Journal’s Veronica Dagher interviews Avi Kestenbaum to discuses how to best go about managing your children’s inheritance, and whether they should receive assets jointly or separately. http://www.wsj.com/podcasts/should-children-inherit-assets-jointly-or-separately/92C0338F-5BB7-489F-8C7B-A289637A6DB2.html  

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Die and Let Live! – A Review of Don DeLillo’s novel Zero K

By: Jeffrey A. Galant

Jeffrey A. Galant, Counsel in our Trust & Estates group, gives a fascinating review of Don DeLillo’s novel, Zero K. “We are born without choosing to be. Should we have to die in the same manner? Isn’t it a human glory to refuse to accept a certain fate?”

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WSJ Podcast (Audio): What Prince’s Death Teaches About Estate Planning

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

When Prince died without a will, it raised a lot of questions about his estate. Meltzer Lippe’s Avi Kestenbaum discusses why people put off estate planning and what the death of Prince can teach us about how to prepare for the future.   Click here to listen: http://on.wsj.com/1TfFN1E

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Avi Z. Kestenbaum & Mary P. O’Reilly: “Stepping-Up” CLATS, a Win-Win for Beneficiaries and Charities “

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Mary P. O'Reilly

“With today’s high federal income tax rates and the estate tax applicable to relatively few estates and at lower rates, there has been an increased focus in estate planning to achieve a step-up in income tax basis at death. However, in most cases moving assets outside of the taxable estate and receiving a step-up in […]

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Have We Got It All Wrong?

By: Amy F. Altman and Avi Z. Kestenbaum

Trust & Estates Magazine published this article in their February 2016 issue, authored by partner Avi Z. Kestenbaum and associate Amy F. Altman. It asks the question, “Would you prefer to pass as much wealth as possible to your descendants? Or, would you rather give your heirs the greatest chance of truly being happy, well-adjusted, […]

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What Happens to My Debts When I Die?

By: Stephen M. Breitstone

Sarah Max, author from MONEY Magazine interviews partner, Stephen M. Breitstone to find out what happens to your debts after you die. What happens to your debts after you die depends on the type of debt, whether anyone cosigned the loan, where you live, and the size of the estate you leave behind. If you […]

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WSJ Podcast (Audio): How to Speak to Your Parents ABout Their Estate Planning

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

Watching Your Wealth: Meltzer Lippe’s Avi Kestenbaum joins Veronica Dagher with tips on how to talk to your parents about their estate plan. Click below to listen: http://on.wsj.com/1ksrxIp

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Why the Buffet-Gates Giving Pledge Requires Limitation of the Estate Tax Charitable Deduction

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

The article raises interesting issues regarding the policy, theory and history behind the charitable deduction and the estate tax.

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New Inheritance Rights for Children Conceived After Death

By: Amy F. Altman

Laws are often unable to keep up with issues that arise from devloping bio-technology. This is especailly true for the advances in assisted reproductive technologies and the lag of state inheritance laws to address the rights of children conceived after the death of a parent.

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Memento Mori: Death and Wills

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

While the process of estate planning should, by its very nature, include the contemplation of our mortality and personal legacy, it often doesn’t. In fact, despite modern society’s general fascination with death and affinity for all things macabre—like zombies and vampires—the personal estate-planning process and documents, such as wills, often are designed to avoid the direct mention of death.

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Practicing in the Age of Instant Gratification

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

Living and working in today’s age of instant gratification impacts us all in our personal lives and our professional worlds. Many of our clients expect instantaneous responses to their questions, immediate solutions to their concerns and have unrealistic expectations that the estate-planning process will consistently be smooth and the end results will be excellent.

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Navigating the Discussion of Business Succession Planning

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Christine K. Kitson

How to better address this sensitive issue with our clients. With business succession planning, there are many components and moving pieces involved, as well as tremendous obstacles. The most successful multigenerational family businesses share a commitment to charity and community development. Download the PDF for the full article.

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The Public’s Interest in Charitable Trusts: Unsettled Issues

By: Amy F. Altman

Amy F. Altman of Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone and Kristin Booth Glen of City University of New York School of Law discuss three cases involving cy pres and charitable enforcement issues that raise important questions about who can protect the public interest in charitable trusts, and perhaps as important, when.

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Avi Z. Kestenbaum & the Family Business Succession Planning Crisis: A Call to Action

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

The statistics are shocking and sobering. Very few family businesses successfully transition to the next generations. Estate planners may be unaware of the true reasons for this and therefore may be unable to properly help our clients.

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Revisiting John Ward’s Perpetuating the Family Business

By: Jeffrey A. Galant

John Ward's Perpetuating the Family Business is not about saving taxes, rather it is about saving the family and its business. The book, a self-help guidebook to family business owners, is a synthesis of Ward's experiences in advising such owners here and abroad.

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Faulty IRA Beneficiary Designations Explode Estate Plans

By: Stephen M. Breitstone

In our practice and in the real world, it is usually easier to purchase real estate than to sell real estate. This often presents real world difficulties for businesses seeking to take advantage of the "like-kind" exchange provisions under section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Know the Differences – Why All Charitable Contribution Deductions Are Not Equal

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

Many tax and estate planing professionals are aware of the basic tax rules governing dedications for charitable contributions.  They know the general distinctions between the limits on income tax deductions for contributions to private foundations, and for contributions to public charities.

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Popular Estate Planning Techniques Can Cause Income Tax Horrors For Real Estate Owners

By: Stephen M. Breitstone

The real estate wealth created over a lifetime (or over generations) can be lost absent tax and succession planning. For the large real estate portfolio, liquidity is usually a major concern.

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Planning Beyond the Galaxy of Exemptions

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Mary P. O'Reilly

Besides focusing on saving transfer taxes, there are many other areas where estate planners can help and provide real benefit to their clients.

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Portability – A Dramatic Estate Tax Change

By: Howard M. Esterces

Recently enacted “portability” provisions authorize estate of decedents dying in 2011 or later to elect to transfer their unused $5 million exemption from federal estate tax (increased for inflation) to a surviving spouse.

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Integrating Self-Management With Estate Planning

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Christine K. Kitson

Succession planning is often the most complicated piece of the estate-planning puzzle. While tax planning has specific statutory rules and court precedents that must be followed to achieve a successful outcome, there are no official rules in succession planning and, often, no perfect solutions.

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The Virtual Clone Trustee

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Mary P. O'Reilly

Imagine your client has an identical twin who acts just like him, likes and dislikes all the same things, shares his precise values and goals and reacts and makes decisions in the exact way your client does...this isn’t just your client’s twin, but your client’s clone…wouldn’t this immortal being be the perfect candidate to serve as trustee of your client’s trusts?

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Lapsing 2012 Estate Planning Opportunities & large Estates Holding Businesses and Real Estate

By: Stephen M. Breitstone

Stephen discusses lapsing 2012 estate planning opportunities for large estates holding businesses and real estate. Stephen also explores some of the lesser-reported implications of the Obama administration’s 2012 proposed budget.

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Estate Planning for Negative Capital

By: Stephen M. Breitstone

A solution for real estate owners when the debt owed on a property exceeds its basis.

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Default in Argentina, Repercussions in New York, Self-Settled Trusts and Choice of Law

By: Jeffrey A. Galant

A choice of law provision in a trust agreement, as is the case with any contract, may not be enforceable against persons who are not parties to the agreement. This point was recently reinforced by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in EM Ltd., et.al. v. The Republic of Argentina which involved the validity of a self-settled trust created outside of the U.S. by parties who have basically no connection to the U.S. in terms of domicile or residence.

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The Quarterback Dilemma

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

Estate plans originate in  a number of ways, but in every one, early on in the process, the client interacts with at least one "estate planner" who may be an accountant, insurance professional, financial advisor  or attorney.

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The State of Estate Planning

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Jeffrey A. Galant

On Dec. 17. 17, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the Act).  The Act significantly impacts the estate planning that advisors will recommend to their clients, as well as the way planners will practice now and in the future.  This article, briefly describes the Act's key estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax changes, since many other Trusts & Estates articles have previously covered these topics.  Our focus is on the Act's current and future influence on estate planning practices.

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Reckoning With New York’s Marital Right of Election

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Stephen M. Breitstone

Throughout history, many cultures have imposed restrictions on the right of an individual to freely bequeath assets. The historical basis of forced heirship was to require land to pass down to one's issue—frequently giving priority in distributions to the eldest son. Today, most U.S. jurisdictions permit one to freely disinherit their descendents....

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The Beneficiary’s Defective Inheritor’s Trust: Is It Really Defective?

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Jeffrey A. Galant

Over the last few years, there have been several articles written, as well as the issuance of Private Letter Rulings, regarding the potential benefits and tax consequences of the Beneficiary Defective Inheritor's TrustTM.  Briefly, the BDIT is an irrevocable trust, which is structured to be a "grantor trust" with respect to the beneficiary and not the grantor, yet allows the trust assets to be accessible to the beneficiary in this "best of both worlds" planning approach.

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Risk Assessment: Do It At The Outset of All Estate Planning

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

Financial professionals do it. Insurance professionals do it. Actuaries certainly do it. Yet we, as tax and estate planning professionals, all too often recommend techniques and strategies without doing it. And that “it” is risk assessment.

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It’s Personal

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

The important role Trusts & Estates attorneys have as family counselors is the topic of this New York Law Journal article.

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True Counselor

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

The important role Trusts & Estates attorneys have as family counselors is the topic of this New York Law Journal article.

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Prop. Regs. Reduce Many Required Minimum Distributions

By: Howard M. Esterces

Howard Esterces, a member of Meltzer Lippe's Estate and Trusts Group, discusses that those who have already begun receiving required minimum distributions from IRAs and qualified plans may be able to reduce their annual withdrawals—thereby increasing their tax deferral.

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SCINs Are Still Useful Tools Despite Recent Decision

By: Howard M. Esterces

A SCIN typically arises through the sale of shares of stock or an interest in real estate to a family member

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Rights of Surviving Spouses To Pension Benefits

By: Howard M. Esterces

REA mandates payment of retirement benefits as a qualified joint and survivor annuity with a spouse (QJSA), and payment of a qualified pre-retirement survivor annuity death benefit to a surviving spouse (QPSA). These payments may be waived by a spouse who is not a member of the retirement plan under certain conditions.

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Use Disclaimers to Add Flexibility and Hindsight to Estate Plans

By: Avi Z. Kestenbaum

The disclaimer can be a helpful tax and estate planning tool if used correctly. Often, the disclaimer is employed as a postmortem remedial device to fend off adverse tax repercussions and other unintended consequences of an estate plan gone awry. Other times, the anticipated use of the disclaimer is consciously incorporated into the estate plan by its drafter to preserve tax and distributive flexibility at the decedent’s death. Although, this article focuses on the application of the disclaimer in the estate tax context, significant non-tax objectives may also justify its use.

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