Will, Trusts, Estate Planning, Tax Law, Probate, and Estate Administration

Recognized as a leader in wills, trusts, tax and estate law, New York Attorney Robert Adler develops estate plans designed to meet your unique goals and financial situation. Adler employs the most sophisticated estate planning strategies that protect your assets and minimize taxes. Federal taxes on gifts and estates can be among the highest assessed on any financial transaction. In addition, New York state has its own estate tax. New York City estate planning attorney Robert Adler has been protecting families and their assets for over 30 years. Call Attorney Adler today for a free consultation regarding Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, or are helping someone who has, we know this is a challenging time. Attorney Adler is here to help you with New York probate, estate administration, and the inheritance process. He guides executors, trustees and beneficiaries through the probate and estate administration process, assists them in the transfer of assets and resolution of claims, as well as implementing the decedent’s estate plan.

Call New York City trust and estate Attorney Adler today for an initial consultation regarding Probate, and Estate Administration issues.

Wills and Trusts

A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of your minor children after your death. A will is among the most important legal documents that you will ever sign.

When you create a will, you will be able to designate how your estate should be divided, determine who will receive your property, set up trusts, and designate a guardian for your minor children.

If you die without a will, state law will determine the distribution and management of your estate. This is known as the law of intestacy. Through these laws, each state, in effect, draws your will for you – determines “who gets what” – according to what seems most equitable for the greatest number of its citizens. The problem with these laws is they are designed for general application and rarely suit individual circumstances. Preparing your will assures that your property will go to the people you choose.

One of the basic purposes of most trusts is protection. It may be the protection of a spouse, child, parent or dependent that is desired. It may be the protection of a beneficiary against his or her own possible errors of judgment in the management of the trust property. Trusts can also be used to reduce New York State Estate Tax and Federal Estate Tax. Trusts also play an important role in planning for families with children from previous relationships.

New York estate planning lawyer Robert Adler has over 30 years of experience. He represents clients throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Queens, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester Counties. Contact Adler at (212) 843-4059 or use our online form.

Probate and Estate Administration

Probate and estate administration involve court proceedings in which an individual is appointed to manage the estate of a deceased person and ultimately transfer the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Attorney Adler will prepare and explain the necessary documents the Executor, Administrator and/or Trustee needs in order to acquire the legal authority to act as fiduciary. If the deceased individual died without a Will, we file an administration proceeding in the New York Surrogate’s Court. If the deceased individual died with a Will, we will file  a probate proceeding in the applicable New York State Surrogate’s Court Executors and Administrators are responsible for protecting all estate property until debts and taxes are paid. In general, Executors and Administrators have three responsibilities: (1) Collect, inventory, and appraise all the assets of the estate, (2) Pay the bills, taxes, estate expenses, and creditors of the decedent, and (3) Transfer property to the beneficiaries according to the Will or, if there is no Will, then according to the New York State laws of intestacy.

We know how difficult coming to terms with the death of a loved one is, so we endeavor to make the probate and estate administration process as easy as possible. When questions arise over the distribution of property or when you have any concerns, Attorney Robert Adler will be at your side to advise you with compassion and patience.

Estate and Gift Tax

While virtually every American is familiar with the federal income tax, the U.S. Internal Revenue Code contains another system of taxation related to individual wealth: the taxation of the passage of wealth through gratuitous transfers of property by individuals. This overall area of federal taxation is embodied in three separate, but interrelated “taxes”: the estate tax, the gift tax, and the generation skipping transfer tax. For wealthy families who are affected, these taxes can be significant.

The federal estate tax applies to the transfer of property at death. The federal gift tax applies to transfers made while a person is living. The generation-skipping transfer tax is an additional tax on a transfer of property when a generation is skipped with respect to the collection of the estate tax. For wealthy families who are affected, these taxes can be significant, and their ultimate impact can often be reduced by careful planning.

New York State also has an estate tax that applies to the estates of New York residents and non-residents who own real or tangible property sited in New York State. Estates with a value below the “estate tax exemption amount” will pay zero New York State estate tax. The New York estate tax exemption amount in 2024 is $6.94 million (as indexed) and is phased out for New York taxable estates valued between 100% and 105% of the exemption amount, with no exemption being available for taxable estates in excess of 105% of the exemption amount. This phaseout of the exemption is commonly referred to as the “estate tax cliff.” The top New York estate tax rate is 16% for estates over $10.1 million.

Unlike the federal estate tax, New York State estate tax does not have portability, which means that any unused portion of the New York State exemption of the first deceased spouse cannot be transferred to the surviving spouse’s estate for New York State estate tax purposes. New York State imposes a “clawback” provision, meaning that taxable gifts made within three years of death are included in the calculation of the New York State estate tax. This provision is designed to prevent taxpayers from making death bed gifts.

High Net Worth Estate Planning

Attorney Adler develops estate plans that meet the complex personal, business, financial, and tax goals of high-net-worth families. He helps high-net worth individuals and their families preserve wealth through sophisticated estate plans that shield assets from estate taxation through multiple generations. Attorney Robert Adler creates generation-skipping trusts in tandem with overall estate planning to safeguard wealth for future generations. His decades of experience working with high-net-worth individuals and their families gives him a deep understanding of the issues involved in preserving and maximizing wealth. 

Estate Planning for Blended Families

What are blended families?

  • Married couples in which one or both spouses have children from a prior marriage. 
  • Families with children who are in second or subsequent marriages and who have children from prior marriages.
  • Families with children whose spouses have children from prior marriages

Blended families face unique estate planning challenges. Typically, individuals in blended families want to provide for their spouse as well as the children from the prior marriage. In some cases, they also want to provide for the children from their spouse’s prior marriage.

Two common estate-planning challenges that arise in blended families are: (1) The potential for children to be disinherited, and (2)  delays in the children’s receipt of inheritance until after the death of their parent’s spouse. Without careful planning conflicts can arise.

New York attorney, Robert Adler has more than 30 years of experience working with blended families. He represents clients throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Queens, as well as Kings, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester Counties. Contact Robert Adler at (212) 843-4059 or use our online form.

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people. It specifies the assets and liabilities that each party brings to the marriage and determines what each party’s property rights will be in the event of divorce. Prenuptial agreements also play a role in determining marital property rights after the death of a spouse.

Couples who do opt for a prenuptial agreement usually do so for one or more of the following reasons. If any of these circumstances apply to you a prenuptial agreement may be advisable:

  • You Are Significantly Wealthier than Your Spouse — A prenuptial agreement can protect your existing wealth.
  • You Earn Significantly More than Your Spouse — In many states, a prenup can be used to limit the amount of spousal support (alimony) that is payable following a divorce. It should be noted, however, that if a judge considers your spousal support arrangements to be punitive or unfair they can can be thrown out by the court.
  • You are Remarrying — Without a valid prenuptial agreement in place your children from a previous marriage may not be provided for according to your wishes.
  • Your Estate Planning Requires It — A prenuptial agreement can ensure, that following your death, your assets will be distributed according to your wishes and not subject to default state property and marital laws that automatically earmark certain amounts to a surviving spouse.

Deciding you want a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean that you do not love your partner or that your planning for the day that you will want to leave them. Prenuptial agreements are simply financial management and estate planning tools designed to protect you and your spouse, and by extension your family.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a will?
A will is a written document that allows you to designate:who will receive your probate estate after you die;who will raise your children if you and...
What if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, state law will determine the distribution of your estate. This is known as the law of intestacy. Through these laws, each...
Can my will be challenged?
Yes. A person can attempt to prove in court that:you were under duress or undue influence when making your will;you were incompetent or unable to...

Adler & Adler Blog

Executor May Advance Distributions to Beneficiary An executor may voluntarily make an advance distribution to a beneficiary in need. If an executor refuses to help a beneficiary who has demonstrated...

Importance of Executor Record Keeping The executor is the CFO of the estate. The executor’s responsibilities include: 1 – the preservation of estate assets; 2 – the...

What Happens if a Will is Lost? A lost will may still be admitted to probate if: (a) It is established that the will has not been revoked; and (b) Execution of the will is...

Wills and Trusts: The Estate Planning Process

Initial consultation

The estate planning process begins with a free initial telephone consultation. The initial consultation provides an opportunity for us to get to know each other and speak genreally about the type and scope of planning that may benefit you and your...

Planning stage

Gather information, discuss options for organizing and managing your affairs, and design an estate plan that reflects your wishes and meets your objectives. The number of meetings depends on the complexity of your situation.

Drafting stage

Create the legal documents (wills, trusts, etc.) necessary to implement your plan.

Document Review

Review your draft documents with you and advise you of any additional steps that you need to take to assure your estate plan operates correctly, such as changing beneficiary designations on insurance or retirement benefits, and (where applicable) the...

Document Execution

Execute (sign) your estate planning documents and assure that all legal formalities are met.

New York Probate and Estate Administration

Initial consultation

The estate administration process begins with an Initial Telephone Consultation. When a loved one passes away, it is important that the fiduciary (Executor, Administrator or Trustee) seek legal counsel for guidance through the estate settlement...

Fact finding stage

Assist the fiduciary (Executor, Administrator or Trustee) in gathering the information needed for the preparation of various documents required for the administration of the estate or trust of the deceased.

Opening the Estate

Prepare and explain the necessary documents the Executor, Administrator and/or Trustee needs in order to acquire the legal authority to act as fiduciary. If the deceased individual died without a Will, file an administration proceeding in the...

Managing the Estate

Executors and Administrators are responsible for protecting all estate property until debts and taxes are paid. In general, Executors and Administrators have three responsibilities: (1) Collect, inventory, and appraise all the assets of the estate...

Settling the Estate

The final step of the process, the distribution of assets, occurs after the executor or administrator files an accounting with the court showing the inventory, value of assets and all money paid out of the estate up to that point. Once the court...

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