The Secure Act

On December 15th, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law legislation substantially amending the New York General Obligations Law, which is the law that governs powers of attorney in New York.  Effective June 13th, 2021, the new law, among other things, modifies the form of a power of attorney.  The new form must be used beginning June 13th, 2021, however, a power of attorney drafted prior to the effective date is still valid.  This article provides a brief overview of the key changes made by the new legislation.

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Dear Mr. Di Costanzo: Should I prepare an estate plan before I leave for college?Congratulations to everyone headed off to college.  My favorite Animal House quote is when Belushi says “seven years of college down the drain”.  Although college should be stimulating from both an academic and social perspective, try not to be there for seven years. Read more

The Perils and Pitfalls of Owning a Co-op

As many of you know, I practice as a tax accountant as well as an elder law and estate planning attorney.  This blog is an example of the interdisciplinary nature of my practice.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden enacted the American Rescue Plan (“ARP”).  Oddly, certain provisions of the ARP relate back to 2020 and may have an impact on your 2020 income tax return.  Under the ARP, the first $10,200 of unemployment compensation, received in 2020, is tax-free so long as your 2020 adjusted gross income is less than $150,000.  If you are married, both you and your spouse may each exclude $10,200.00.

Seeing that two-thirds of the tax filing season has elapsed, this relief creates somewhat of a tax filing headache for those of you who have already filed your 2020 tax returns.  Unfortunately, you will need to amend your 2020 tax returns to obtain this benefit.  If you are in the process of preparing your 2020 tax returns with an accountant, you should remind your accountant that you have unemployment compensation since this is crunch time for accountants and many may be unaware of this retroactive law.

Dear Mr. Di Costanzo: Can my spouse access our jointly owned safe deposit box after my death?

It is common practice in New York for banks to “seal” a safe deposit box upon the death of an owner.  Surprisingly, this practice applies even in situations where there are joint owners.  Many people who own safe deposit boxes as joint owners, for instance a husband and wife, mistakenly believe that the surviving owner has free access to the contents of the box after the death of the first owner.  This is not the case in New York.  Unlike joint bank accounts, there is no right of survivorship feature with safe deposit boxes. Read more

Under New York State law, a spouse is considered a legally responsible relative which means that you are financially responsible for the support and care of your institutionalized spouse.  Absent any planning, you will likely be required to privately pay for the cost of the nursing home which could exceed $15,000 per month.  To minimize this financial catastrophe, one should consider Medicaid eligibility using the planning technique commonly referred to as “spousal refusal”. Read more

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