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Latham New York Legal Blog

Elder law: Keeping an eye on seniors' brokers

Most senior citizens have worked hard for their savings. Elder law in New York works to safeguard seniors who are vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals and that can mean brokers hired to look after those savings. Family members need to take stock of what is happening with any investment accounts their elderly loved ones may have.

For instance, when a New York resident had to move her mother out of a Manhattan apartment and into an assisted living facility due to the onset of Alzheimer's disease, she was counting on using the money that had accumulated in an investment fund her father had opened years back. Money was being drawn on that account to care for the woman's father who was already in a home. However, upon closer examination of that account, she noticed something very wrong. The account was minus $100,000 in one month.

Responsibilities in becoming a guardian of your parent

As your parent ages, you notice their health and hygiene deteriorating. You believe they cannot properly care for themselves, and you worry about them making sound decisions with their property and finances. In the state of New York, you may legally obtain guardianship of your parent if he or she proves incapacitated.

Applying for guardianship constitutes a selfless act. You want to ensure that your parent receives proper care, and you hope to provide them security in knowing their medical and financial decisions lie in your hands. Guardianship offers the opportunity for you to care for your parent as he or she may no longer have the ability to do so themselves. When applying for guardianship, you may wish to hire an experienced attorney to help you in developing a sound case for your guardianship rights.

New York elder law: 3 crucial documents regarding elder care

Not just anyone can make decisions for their elderly loved ones. Elder law in New York has very definitive rules about protecting seniors' rights and their welfare. So, for adult children or any family members caring for elderly loved ones, there is some documentation necessary to give them legal authority to act. It is better to see to these things sooner, rather than later.

Many family members don't realize that they can't just step in and make decisions for their elderly loved ones. If those documents aren't in order, a family court petition to obtain guardianship may be necessary. One of the first orders of business is to fill out a Health Information Portability and Accountability Act authorization form, which will let a health care team share medical information about a person with family members. The form states that the person allows this information to be divulged.

Estate planning and administration: Taking care of digital assets

The 21st Century has put an additional spin on planning for the future. When it comes to estate planning and administration, New York residents need to take into consideration their digital assets as well as concrete assets. Failing to do so means that an estate plan is not yet finished. 

Digital assets could include items that have financial value, like bank accounts, or credit cards that amass points, like air miles, or they may include those assets that are more emotional like family videos or digital photos. If people don't make mention of these types of assets in their wills or other estate planning documents, it may give family members the added burden of doing so amidst dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. As well, giving out passwords doesn't mean the law will look favorably on the person who is informally dealing with these types of assets. No one wants to be charged with fraud or unlawful use.

Real estate: What it takes to sell a home in New York

Selling a home can be both exhilarating and frustrating. But real estate transactions don't have to be intimidating when New York residents are armed with some tips to help selling a home to be an exciting and pleasant experience. Selling and buying are very different from each other and may be accompanied by different emotions, but the bottom line is getting the most out of the sale.

For a home to be competitive on the market, it needs to be priced and marketed correctly. An experienced real estate agent or a real estate appraiser may be able to help in this regard. Sales of comparable homes will be analyzed to come to a sale price. Once a price has been established, it's important to have the home looking as neutrally decorated as possible, so it might be a good idea to have the home professionally staged for the biggest impact. Removing personal items also goes a long way to helping to get offers.  

Avoiding estate planning and administration headaches

When people take the time to plan their estates, they likely want to avoid any major errors or pitfalls. Estate planning and administration in New York can be complex, so having some information while on the planning journey may save a lot of time and possible headaches down the line. Even if a revocable trust is part of the plan, there are some ways to avoid some common mistakes. 

Even when trusts are comprehensive, they should not take the place of a will. Naming the right executor, trustee or fiduciary to manage the estate is part of a good, overall plan. The right person for that task doesn't necessarily have to be a family member. The person will be responsible for all the assets of the estate and for paying the debts. Choosing one child over another may cause hard feelings, while choosing more than one child can cause turmoil, so it may be best to have someone else handle the duties. 

Revocable vs. irrevocable trusts: what you need to know

When you are looking at estate planning, creating a trust is vital. Most people use trusts as a helpful tool to distribute their estate after they are gone, especially if they have a considerable one. However, there are differences between the two main types of trusts, and it is good to know which one is for you.


Commercial real estate sellers make common mistakes

Commercial real estate is fast becoming an efficient way to invest for the future. Adding real estate to one's portfolio creates diversity and added security. However, selling commercial property has inherent complications that residential transactions do not include. This can lead to expensive and risky mistakes by property owners.

A New York commercial property owner who has tenants in the building he or she is trying to sell would be wise to disclose as much information as possible to potential buyers. This includes which tenants may be paying rent month-to-month instead of having a long-term lease and those who are in default on their rent. These factors can make a difference to a buyer's lender, and the buyer has a right to know in advance.

Estate planning and administration for the small business owner

New York small business owners make important decisions on a daily basis. They decide who to hire, what products and/or services to offer to customers and even which vendors to do business with. These decisions take care of the day-to-day business; however, the prudent business owner also recognizes the need for estate planning and administration concerns to be addressed.

Most will begin addressing their estate planning needs by drafting a will. In addition to this document, some find that creating a revocable living trust is also a wise business decision. This type of trust allows business assets to be placed in the trust. The business owner can continue to manage the business in the role of the trustee; a successor trustee can also be appointed to step in if the owner becomes incapacitated or dies. The revocable living trust can allow the business to continue with little to no interruption and may even offer protection from creditors.

Recognizing signs of elder abuse and what to do

Mistreatment of the elderly is a painful thought to grapple with. It is something that happens, though, and more often than we’d like to think.

The onus of protecting the older generation falls to the younger generation when they can’t protect themselves. That is why it’s so critical to know how to identify the signs of abuse or neglect, and what you can do next.

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