A Trusts and Estates Attorney in Staten Island, New York Helping You Plan
Preserving your family’s wealth for future generations
Whether you’re planning the parameters of your future medical care or establishing support for loved ones upon your death, the Law Office of Gina-Marie Reitano can help with all aspects of trusts and estates issues, including:
Securing your legacy
You work hard for your family, so knowing that you have planned for their long-term well-being and financial security can bring you comfort. I thoroughly analyze your estate and strategize the best means of transferring your assets, minimizing taxes, establishing guardianship for your children, caring for your pets, supporting personal philanthropic causes and protecting your loved ones. There are many available aspects of planning that can be done before death, such as Irrevocable Trusts, which can secure your property in the event you need Medicaid. These Trusts can also provide for an orderly distribution of your assets at death. Lifetime transfers of title to your home subject to an estate for the term of your life can also assist you in avoiding unfavorable results should the need for a nursing home arise.
Drafting your living will and last will and testament
A will is essential at every stage of your life. Your living will sets the parameters for medical intervention should you become incapacitated. This assures that when you are most vulnerable, your wishes will be honored.
Your last will provides the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes upon your death. A will is necessary if you intend to leave property to a person or entity other than a blood relative, such as a domestic partner, a friend or a charity. If you die without a will, the court determines how your property is distributed, who cares for your children and even what happens to your pet — making decisions that might not reflect your desires. I can draft valid wills that ensure your intentions are honored.
Changing your will
As your life changes, so may your estate plan. You may want to update your will throughout your life. I draft valid codicils that address changes in your financial situation, marital status, number of children, philanthropic interests and general lifestyle decisions.
Appointment of guardianship
If you have minor children, your will allows you to make decisions about their future care. This is especially crucial if you are a single parent or if both parents die in a common incident. If you do not name a guardian, the court will appoint a guardian for your children and can make decisions adverse to your ultimate parenting goals. You can also make arrangements for your pets’ care in your will, including naming a guardian to take responsibility for your pets.
Litigating disputes after your loved one dies
The death of a loved one is always a painful occurrence. Unfortunately, that pain is too often compounded by problems in the estate that cause disputes among heirs and beneficiaries. If you suspect that a will or its execution does not reflect the wishes of the deceased, you have a right to challenge the proceedings in probate court. I have represented aggrieved parties in probate cases for 27 years. I am ready to assist you in inheritance controversies arising from:
- Lack of capacity
- Undue influence
- Breach of fiduciary duty
Preventing exploitation of the elderly
Many probate disputes stem from suspicions that a particular individual took advantage of the declining health or dementia of the deceased to insinuate himself into the will to the detriment of the rightful heirs. I am familiar with such cases and know exactly what kind of evidence is necessary to make a showing of undue influence or lack of capacity. If a caretaker or family member manipulated an unfair change in the will, that change can be invalidated.
Demanding accountability and fairness
The individual chosen to be the personal representative of the estate or to hold power of attorney has a fiduciary duty to dispatch his obligations professionally and in accordance with the wishes of the testator. Any deliberate fraud or negligence in accounting for assets can and should be challenged in probate. I have vast experience dealing with estate matters and can form a quick and accurate appraisal of whether matters are being handled competently and honestly.
Don’t expect success if you handle objections yourself
Many beneficiaries hesitate to hire an attorney because they trust the probate court to do what is fair or wish to keep a family dispute within the family. However, there are things you should consider before attempting to handle a probate issue yourself. The court is not an investigative body. Just because you bring up an issue does not mean the judge is obligated to search for supporting evidence. You can present allegations, but without the firm basis a professional attorney can provide, your suspicions may receive little consideration. Moreover, a seasoned attorney who has been through probate negotiations before is likely to produce a settlement that satisfies all parties and allows the proceedings to move forward at less cost to the estate.
Contact an estate planning lawyer in Staten Island, New York who can help you protect your family
For estate planning services in Staten Island, call the Law Office of Gina-Marie Reitano at 646-741-6556 or contact me online to schedule a consultation. There is a consultation fee of $350 that is applied to a retainer.