Revising your estate plan after a divorce

When it comes to estate matters, a number of unexpected hurdles can create challenges. For example, you may be facing hardships following the loss of your spouse or a person who was granted power of attorney. However, you may need to make revisions to your estate plan after you and your marital partner split up. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we understand how upsetting these experiences can be for New Yorkers, but it is pivotal for people in this position to address any estate issues that arise after a divorce.

There are various reasons why revising our estate plan following a divorce could be so important. For example, if you granted power of attorney to your former spouse, you may need to revoke this designation. Or, if you and your spouse owned property, or had children, this may necessitate taking another look at your estate plan.

For many people, divorce can be an incredibly difficult time and people may feel overwhelmed afterwards. However, it is essential to make sure that all responsibilities are handled and that your assets are protected. Unfortunately, some people have failed to go over their estate plan in a timely manner after splitting up with their spouse, which can lead to all sort of different challenges. For example, their former spouse may continue to have access to their estate in the event that they pass away.

On the estate administration section of our site, you can read about more estate legal issues and other considerations related to this area of law.

Do you need to challenge the executor of an estate?

There are a lot of things to worry about when someone passes away. Whether it was a predictable passing, such as from a progressive disease, cancer or an accident, there are financial and legal issues that arise after a death. Someone will need to pay off and close accounts, such as utility accounts and credit cards. Then, there’s the process of handling the actual estate and distributing assets in compliance with the wishes of the deceased. You may feel like there is less to worry about because the person who passed away left an estate plan or last will. Sadly, that won’t prevent serious financial or estate issues.

An estate plan is only as strong as the executor appointed to carry it out . The sad truth is that we are often blind to the worst qualities in the people we are closest to. It’s very possible that someone you loved and respected named an unqualified or unscrupulous executor. The person who passed away probably believed that the executor named was the best selection. However, now that it’s time to handle the estate, it looks like there are a lot of issues. Whether funds and assets are just disappearing or the executor doesn’t seem to know how to handle probate court, you may need to take action.

You can ask the courts to replace an executor

If you have reason to believe that the executor named in the last will or estate plan is not fulfilling his or her duties, the courts may intervene. Probate court can remove an executor who has failed to handle an estate properly. The courts can also name a replacement executor. That individual gets tasked with correcting the issues caused by the previous executor and completing the last wishes of the deceased. Believe it or not, it’s actually very common to challenge an executor. Many estates, especially those with a lot of assets, end up in probate court because of how an executor handles things.

Typically, in order to remove an executor, you need some kind of evidence that the executor can’t or isn’t handling the estate properly. In some situations, public statements like Facebook posts could be used to show an individual intends to profit off of an estate or defraud other heirs. Other times, you may have to carefully review the estate plan or last will and compare it with what has gotten dispersed from the estate. It can be a difficult and protracted process. Unless you contest how the estate is handled, the executor could end up spending, wasting or improperly dividing the estate assets.

Wanting an estate to get handled properly doesn’t make you contentious or greedy. It makes you someone who respects the last wishes of the people you love. If you believe an executor isn’t doing his or her job, you may need to challenge him or her in court.

Granting someone power of attorney

A variety of questions may arise during the estate planning process, such as trying to decide between different types of trusts or being unsure of how to distribute assets among beneficiaries. In Jamaica, and other cities around New York, some people may be trying to decide if granting another person power of attorney is the right move. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we have firsthand knowledge of the different issues that may arise when it comes to power of attorney.

If you are thinking about granting power of attorney to someone, you should familiarize yourself with the process and have a solid understanding of what their responsibilities may be. Should something happen to you, the person who you have designated to have power of attorney will be able to act on your behalf. Another question you may have to ask yourself is who to grant this power to. Often, people decide to grant power of attorney to a close relative, such as a spouse or a child. However, you may decide to grant power of attorney to someone else.

Regardless of the estate-related decisions that you make, it is essential to take a careful approach and thoroughly go over any of your options. After all, estate matters can have a significant impact on your loved ones after you pass away and it is essential to find the right solution. If you visit our estate administration section, you can read more about subjects related to power of attorney  and other estate matters.

Heir claims he was cheated out of $70,000

With regard to probate, there are many issues that executors, heirs and decedents may want to take into consideration. For example, heirs should be aware of any wrongdoing during the probate process , which leaves them with a smaller amount of assets than they were entitled to. Unfortunately, this takes place too often in New York and it can be very hard for people who are alerady going through emotional pain.

A man who was listed as an heir in Michigan alleges that he was cheated out of $70,000 after he was unsuccessful in a public auction over a home. He accuses a group of attorneys and a real estate broker of wrongdoing during the probate process, alleging that they sold his mother’s home at a public auction without notifying him.

He claims that he was never informed that the home was gbeing foreclosed on and that a relatively minor amount of money was still owed on the property. The heir also says that this group has targeted other estates, which results in heirs receiving a small portion of what they were entitled to.

Sometimes, heirs are cheated out of property they should have received due to an executor’s violation of his or her duties. In other cases, they may face troubles in court. Regardless of the nature of probate problems people are experiencing, it is essential for them to stand up for their legal rights and press forward. For some, consulting a legal professional who knows how to work through these situations has been very beneficial.

Source : WXYZ, ” Metro Detroit dad says probate scandal nearly cost him $70,000, ” Heather Catallo, June 7, 2017

What should I know about estate tax?

If you are preparing to set up your estate plan, there may be many different types of questions you have, such as determining how to divide your assets between beneficiaries. However, you should be aware of other topics that may impact your estate, such as estate tax. In Jamaica, and in other New York cities, you should try to prepare for any potential hurdles that may arise during the estate process, such as how estate tax is calculated.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, estate taxes  are placed on the transferral of property from one person to another after they pass away. Various types of property may be subjected to this tax, such as trusts, business interests, cash and real estate. When determining how to tax an estate, assets are evaluated for their fair market value, which may differ from the amount someone spent to purchase an asset.

Generally, a simple estate with modest assets may not have to file an estate tax return. That said, estates which have taxable gifts and assets in excess of $5.49 million in 2017 must file an estate tax return. If you have significant assets and surpass this threshold, then it is very important to be aware of how taxes could affect your estate and your family members after you pass away.

Fortunately, by planning ahead and having a clear understanding of the best route forward, some people are able to simplify these types of issues for their loved ones. You should also understand that this post does not represent an alternative to legal advice.

Talking with loved ones about probate

When it comes to estate matters, a myriad of issues could affect you, whether you are in the early stages of setting up your estate plan or are struggling with your duties as an executor. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we can sympathize with people who have encountered these challenges in all parts of New York. Unfortunately, they can create a rift between family members, which can be even more devastating after a loved one has passed away. As a result, you should try to work with your loved ones to lock in a positive outcome, regardless of the nature of your complications.

Whether you wish to remove someone who has been named the executor of an estate because you believe they have not lived up to their fiduciary duties or if you are accused of not managing an estate properly, it may be helpful to discuss things with your family. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially in cases where families are pitted against each other over probate topics or any estate matters. While family members who are close to one another (such as a spouse or children) should try to reach an agreement amicably, if possible, these issues can bring in others who may not have been as close to the decedent (such as a niece or cousin).

By finding a resolution peacefully, families may be able to prevent additional difficulties from arising in court or afterward. On our page dedicated to probate law, you can read more information about legal issues involving the probate process .