Finding a lawyer you can trust to guide you through the estate planning process, decisions that will affect you and your family for years to come, is crucial. It can also be difficult to find the lawyer who’s the right fit. You need a lawyer who has a comprehensive understanding of the various issues involved in putting together an estate plan, such as minimizing tax liability, making sure your children are raised by whom you want in the way you want, and that your heirs receive their inheritance in a way that does not cause them more harm than good.
An estate planning lawyer should have extensive expertise beyond the preparation of a last will and testament. A last will and testament is a good fit for some, but one size does not fit all. An attorney that works in estate law in New York should also be familiar with complex estate planning devices, such as revocable and irrevocable trusts, asset protection, and their drafting and the process of trust administration and probate, which can include potential challenges to trust and will instruments. An estate planning lawyer must be able to appreciate the risks inherent in each client’s proposed estate plan, clearly and concisely explain these to the client, and suggest an approach that minimizes risks while ensuring a client’s goals are achieved.
Opting to work with a general practitioner rather than someone who has extensive experience in estate law could cause you and your loved ones to lose a great deal of money in the long run or even fail to put a valid estate plan in place at all. If you have tried to seek advice from a general practitioner, or worse an online resource trying to sell you on a one-size fits all approach, chances are something is lacking. Estate law is a nuanced area of the law, one that requires constant education and time to stay abreast of, and you deserve someone that has dedicated their life to it.
Although putting an estate plan in place is transactional in nature, there’s of course a signing after which you may forget about estate planning for a while, I hope to form lifetime relationships with my clients. Life changes fast and though the estate plans I put in place for clients are certainly designed to grow with them it’s imperative that we see each other every 2-3 years. These bi-annual meetings are simply an opportunity for us to catch-up and make sure that the plan we put in place for you currently is still a good fit in the future.
Are you wondering or worrying what would happen to your family and your assets if something unexpected or unfortunate happened to you?
The scary part is that if you don't have an estate plan, the State of New York has a plan for you and they'll have the final say in what happens to you, your assets, as well as who cares for your minor children if you're incapacitated or die without an estate plan.
The good news is that by putting in place an estate plan now you can regain the upper hand and have the final say in what happens to your family and assets.
We live in a world where being sued is all too common and those who have accumulated wealth or had professional achievement are likely to find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit at some point.
What can you do to protect what you have worked a lifetime for? Thankfully there are estate planning options, such as a domestic asset protection trust, that will allow you to protect your hard earned assets.
The key with this sort of planning is to work with an attorney well versed in the space and to do such planning proactively because once you're facing a creditor it's typically too late.
Probate is the court process whose purpose is to prove the validity of a Will and distribute assets in accordance with the Will.
If you've lost someone close to you, probate is the last thing you want to deal with. I understand this and it's why guiding my client's seamlessly through probate is so very important to me.
In New York, probate averages 9-18 months and can quickly get very expensive if managed improperly.
It's important to work with a lawyer who's able to smoothly and efficiently navigate through everything involved in probate.
Medicaid is one of two government-operated health insurance programs in America. Medicare is the other. While most seniors know they can get Medicare benefits and understand what it takes to qualify, there is more confusion and uncertainty when it comes to Medicaid.
While Medicaid can be a financial lifesaver when you or a loved one needs nursing home care, the problem is a lot of seniors have saved money or have paid off properties.
The assets seniors own could be disqualifying until they are spent on nursing care. Fortunately, Medicaid planning provides a way around this rule to allow seniors to keep their legacy.
Our mission statement is “we deliver inventive and effective solutions and counsel.” We did not arrive at this mission statement overnight, but rather it took nearly a decade of client-focused hard work and every word of it has meaning.
Inventive means that we understand that when it comes to estate planning one-size does not fit all. Rather, each estate plan must, if it’s to be worth the paper it’s written on, accomplish a client’s goals and address their concerns. Each of us and our families are unique. Each estate plan we put in place is unique and that is the foundation of what we do. A lawyer who understands your unique needs and can translate this into meaningful strategies and tactics for your future can give you the peace of mind that should something ever happen to you a clearly articulated estate plan exists, such that your loved ones do not have to worry about anything unnecessary in the wake of a difficult situation.
Some of my clients are parents of young children and what they care about most is not how to legally avoid estate taxes but rather how to ensure that their children are raised by who they want in the way they want. Other clients have adult children with substance abuse or marital issues. Their concerns have evolved from guardianship to ensuring that the money they leave their loved ones does not cause more harm than good. Still other clients have accumulated great wealth and what they care about most is ensuring that some litigious third party does not take from them what they’ve worked a lifetime for. For each of these clients arriving at an effective solution, one that accomplishes their goals and addresses their concerns, is of paramount importance to us.
With the ever-shifting nature of state and federal estate law, tax issues, and other relevant laws, you need someone who stays up to date on all of these topics and will help to keep you informed not just today, but well into the future. Forming a relationship with a knowledgeable New York estate planning attorney like Gabriel Katzner will help you to put together a plan that serves you for many years to come.
Gabriel Katzner brings a reputation for working hard, passionately, and compassionately on behalf of individuals and families who need assistance with their estate planning. Gabriel Katzner brings more than a decade of experience to his legal career: first successfully completing the certified public accounting examination, next working at an international law firm, and finally branching out and opening his own firm. He brings a personalized approach to the table that considers your unique needs when putting together an estate plan.
As the founding partner of Katzner Law Group, the law firm he started in 2009 after opening his own practice, Gabriel brings a modern and responsive approach to estate planning in a way that has garnered a multitude of outstanding public reviews (many of which you can read below).
There’s no shortage of estate planning attorneys in NYC. Let me take this opportunity to explain some of the reasons why Katzner Law Group is different.
I'm a parent to my 6-year old son and 3-year old daughter. I therefore know what your estate planning concerns are as a parent b/c, after all, our concerns are the same.
It's easy for an attorney to say "I'm great, my client's think the world of me." But is their statement true? Please check out my public reviews below and see what clients truly think of me.
I like to say that I'm "responsive to a fault." You'll be (pleasantly) surprised when I respond to your weekend email in an hour or schedule time to speak with you very early in the morning or late in the evening. I block out time each day to return emails and phone calls and it's rare when I'm not same day responsive.
Seemingly all of the estate planning work I do is on a flat fee basis. This makes you comfortable and it makes me comfortable knowing we'll never have to deal with a fee dispute.
Since graduating Fordham Law School in 2002 I've been a practicing attorney first in "big law" and since 2009 I've had my own practice. While I'm not one to say "I've seen it all" I'm confident saying that I've dealt with most every estate planning fact pattern and feel that I do a great job tailoring the estate plans that I put in place for my clients to each of their individual goals and concerns.
I understand that meeting with an attorney to discuss estate planning is not everyone's idea of a great time. I like to think that i bring a human touch and sensitivity to estate planning while at the same time making sure the plan we put in place for you does all it must to protect your family and loved ones.
We’re humbly one of the most loved estate planning law firm’s in New York City.
Our experience with Gabe was excellent. He was always available and responded quickly via email/phone anytime we had a question. For us that’s half the battle and we never had trouble getting in touch with him. In addition, he was able to explain complicated legal documents in a straightforward manner to us. He always went above and beyond what we asked and took the time to make sure we felt comfortable before signing anything. We would highly recommend him.
I came across Gabriel Katzner through a friend’s referral as she had heard nothing but good things about him. Gabriel made it seamless for me to get a will in place.Gabriel did a great job with laying out the different options (pros/cons) of doing a will vs. a trust and answered all of my questions in a timely manner. Timely, efficient and knowledgeable are a few of the words I would use to describe my experience with Gabriel.
Great working experience with Gabriel and his team on my estate planning issues, including a health proxy, power of attorney and many other legal documents. He walked me through everything and then mailed me a binder with tabs for each section…very professional, reasonable fee, and nice person too! Highly recommend! Thanks Gabriel!
We’re humbly one of the most loved estate planning law firm’s in New York City.
From start to finish, Gabriel Katzner made the uncomfortable task of writing a will comfortable. Years ago I actually purchased an inexpensive will (from a website) and figured I was covered, but my wife wanted a will from a real estate planner and I am glad she stuck to her guns. From start to finish Gabriel Katzner communicated with us on a regular basis. I highly recommend Gabriel Katzner for estate planning.
My wife and I engaged Gabriel for preparation of wills and related documents. Gabriel responded to all our questions promptly and completely, and we had full confidence in his advice. His client onboarding and document preparation process were straightforward and efficient. His office space and support staff were nice. I think Gabriel would be a great choice to consult for any individual’s estate planning needs whether simple or complex.
I could not be happier with my experience working with Gabriel Katzner. He is professional, accessible and clearly explained all my options. He patiently answered my questions and was thorough in his explanations. My experience with Gabriel was so positive I recommended him to several friends.
We’re humbly one of the most loved estate planning law firm’s in New York City.
With a baby on the way, my husband and I decided it was vitally important for our family to be secure if anything were to happen to either one of us. I was very impressed with the amount of time he was able to spend on the phone with me, completely patient with all of my questions, and there was no pressure to hire him. He was always knowledgable, professional, responsive, thorough, and patient. We’ve worked with other lawyers before and Gabriel has by far been the best.
Gabriel is very professional, prompt, precise, and courteous. He drew up our wills and healthcare proxies in a timely manner and was very thorough with his explanations of certain law lingo I didn’t understand.
Gabriel Katzner has taken me through a very difficult process. A large part of my estate is going to a university, in memory of a sibling. Gabriel Katzner was not only caring and very knowledgeable, but worked hand in hand with the Planned Giving Department, making the task less stressful. Today we signed the final documents, thanks Gabriel I couldn’t have done this without you guidance and patience.
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Like many things in life, estate plans vary widely in their quality and effectiveness. The LegalZooms and will-mill law firms provide very basic form documents, merely cutting and pasting your name and some personal information that leaves big holes in your estate planning. Sometimes clients are given a will when a trust would have been better because they did not get the proper advice regarding the benefits and disadvantages of each one. They were put into a product that served the company or attorney best, not what was best for them.
As part of our practice, we are often asked to review estate plans created by other companies or law firms. Some clients thought that they had a trust that would allow their estate to avoid probate, when in fact they actually just had a will. The lawyer just told them “yes, this will avoid probate.” These clients had asked for a trust and were told they had a trust, only to find out after my review that they had a will with a testamentary trust that only goes into effect after their death and does not avoid probate.
I have had clients come to me with plans that do not protect the money their children inherit from full public disclosure of the assets/liabilities, from potential claims of a child’s ex-spouse, or from their children’s creditors. Leaving a lump sum of money to children, especially young children, is asking for trouble (or the money to be spent quickly on wasteful things at best).
The decision whether to do your own estate plan is a personal one. I’m not a hard sell attorney. I can only advise you that the number of professionals, doctors, accountants, and other lawyers who do not practice estate planning who we do estate planning work for is large. These professionals are aware of the intricacies that estate plans contain and how sometimes in life we need to pay money to someone to properly protect ourselves. For example, life insurance premiums, homeowner’s insurance premiums, or legal fees for an estate plan. All money spent to protect yourself and your family. They ask me to do their estate plan because they believe that using an online provider, a cut-rate attorney, or doing it themselves would leave many holes in their estate plan and expose their loved ones to issues in the future.
Putting aside guardianship, which we discuss extensively throughout the site, if you have minor children, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is when, how, and under what circumstances your children will receive the money you leave for them.
If a parent dies without a trust in place, a judge would decide how much of your assets would go to them. The judge would rule that whatever amount of money your children are going to inherit would be inherited outright at the age of majority, which is 18 in New York. Take a trip down memory lane and think about 18 year old you. While most of us were nice young men and women, without drug or other serious problems, we were all certainly incapable of handling a lump sum of money falling in our lap. At best the money would be spent and wasted quickly. At worst it would lead us down the road to ruin.
When you have taken the time to put a trust in place you get to decide for yourself, as opposed to a judge making the decision for you, when, how, and under what circumstances your children will have access to their inheritance. Maybe you want them to get everything outright at age 18, which we certainly would not recommend. Maybe you want access to the inheritance triggered by certain life events such as graduating college, turning a certain age, getting married, or having children. What matters is the decision is yours and not that of a judge who doesn’t know you or your family.
You don’t see mention of a will above. That is because with a will all of the information, such as when and how much money your children will inherit, would be public. There are predators who review probate filings just looking for someone to rip off. These are not necessarily violent criminals, but rather sophisticated scam artists who know how to take advantage of the young and naive.
A properly drafted trust keeps this information private and allows your estate to avoid the time-consuming probate process.
No! It means exactly the opposite and this is one of the biggest misunderstandings I see (and why we are by and large a trust based practice). If you have a will, rather than avoid probate, it literally guarantees that your estate will need to go through the probate process. Wills get probated, that’s all there is to it.
That being said, as much as we espouse the benefits of trust based planning throughout our practice, having a written will is certainly better than having nothing at all. In the absence of a written estate plan, the court decides everything about your estate: who the personal representative is; who receives your assets; who the guardian is of your minor children; and when they receive those assets. These are some serious, life defining, decisions. The court is the last one that should be making them on your behalf. When you have a written will, you get to decide who you would want as your personal representative, who the guardian of your minor children should be, who you want to receive your assets, when you want them to receive those assets, as well as any restrictions and protections you want to place on receipt of those assets. This is particularly important when you have minor children.
There are downsides to a written will that a trust based plan avoids, the fact that your estate will still go through the probate process which means it will take 9-18 months, cost 3%-8% of the gross estate and be 100% public thereby exposing your loved ones to predators and scam artists. However, you at least get the benefit of knowing that your wishes are being met and everything is not being left in the hands of a judge.
Yes, there are ways to avoid or reduce estate taxes, commonly referred to as the “death tax”. In New York, for someone that passes away after April 1, 2017, estates smaller than $5.25 million dollars, including life insurance, are not subject to the death tax. There are ways to effectively double the $5.25 million exemption if you are married and use a special kind of trust. Many people, most really, fail to take advantage of this.
New York has a bigger estate tax problem than most because of what’s commonly called the estate tax “cliff.” In most states the estate tax is treated as such: the exemption is let’s say $1 million. Your estate is worth $2 million. You are taxed on the amount you exceed the exemption. So, in our example you would take the $2 million estate and subtract the $1 million exemption and pay tax on the $1 million difference. In New York, for someone that passes away after April 1, 2017, if their estate is worth greater than $5,512,500 their entire estate would be subject to estate tax! This is a draconian result and shows why it’s so important to do whatever is legally possible to avoid the New York estate tax.
If you would like to avoid or reduce the New York death tax, give us call at 646.736.7539 to schedule a free consultation to discuss protecting what matters most to you.
The rules for gifting change each year, and they have changed substantively since the American Taxpayer Relief Act. If you are wondering about gifting money, stocks, bonds, real estate, business interest, or other assets to your children, grandchildren, or others you have come to the right place.
I’d first like to note that the gifting laws can be more complicated than they at first appear. Gifting can have unintended consequences. For example, there are different rules for gifting money to your young child than your elderly parent in a nursing home. Gifting money to a young child is usually very easy and straightforward with no unintended consequences. Gifting money to a relative in a nursing home can have unintended consequences such as making them ineligible for Medicaid. So use the information here as a guide and get more detailed information from an estate planning attorney based on your personal circumstances.
Gifting in 2017:
Annual gift tax exclusion – inflation adjusted to $14,000 per person. This amount can be given to a child, grandchild, or other person. Furthermore, if you are married each spouse can gift this amount to each desired recipient. This means that a married couple can together gift $28,000 per year per individual recipient.
If one spouse has greater assets be sure to ask your CPA about split gifts and whether or not you need to file a gift tax return.
Lifetime Exclusion (unified credit): This is a topic of much confusion. In addition to the annual gift tax exclusion discussed above, each person now also has a $5,490,000 lifetime credit which can be used to make gifts to children and grandchildren and/or their spouses. You will be required to file a 709 gift tax return when making gifts larger than the $14,000 per year annual gift tax amount but you can use your lifetime credit. So what this means, and where the confusion lies, is let’s say you gift $25,000 to your grandchild. Since your annual gift tax exclusion is $14,000 you’ve gifted $11,000 in excess of this amount. But you don’t necessarily pay taxes on this $11,000. Rather, the $11,000 is simply decreased from your $5,490,000 lifetime credit.
Gifts of assets without a clear value, such as real estate or business interests, may require an appraisal. If you are considering a lifetime gift, especially one in excess of your annual gift tax exclusion, you may require the advice of legal counsel.
Gifting can be effectively used to reduce estate taxes in certain circumstances and should always be coordinated with your larger estate plan. The advice of counsel can therefore be both valuable and can save you and your heirs from later problems that might cost much more to correct.