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Is a Last Will probated in the County of my domicile?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney, asset protection attorney, guardianship attorney in New York. Today I’m continuing with giving you information as to what provisions should be in a Last Will and Testament. So why do we need certain provisions? Well, we’ve gone to increase the clarity of a Will. We want to avoid ambiguity and we want the testators wishes to be followed that’s why we include certain things.

So yesterday I started with, I started with the beginning and the beginning is the title, right. Last Will and Testament of name of the person. We also want to include an address, where the person resides. It’s not a requirement. It’s not a requisite. I do think it’s important and the reason for that is is a Will is probated wherever the testator had a domicile, where they were domiciled, right. Either that or where they have property. So, if a person lived in Queens County, you would probate the Will in Queens County. If they had a property in Jackson, New Jersey, you would also have to do a probate there and that’s how it goes. Domicile and every location where you have property.

Something else that should be mentioned is whether or not the person is married or single. It’s a good idea to have that in the Will. I’m a single person, and these are the people I would like to leave X, Y, and Z. I’m a married person. I leave everything to my wife. And then you want to name the children. You really should name each child this way. No one, a person later on can’t say that you forgot a child. You didn’t mention this child and that’s because, you know, sometimes I’ll have a situation where people this just happened this week. Someone had three children, has three children and they were only providing for two children in the Will, and the reason is but at first it took a few questions to find out that they even had a third child.

Seems to be that the child, that third child is living in another state and hasn’t had any contact with the parents in at least 10 years, however, should the parents pass away at some future point could that child come back and say, “Hey, my parents, you know, left me out of the Will and it was based on fraud, duress, mistake, dementia, incapacity.” Later on, something and they could attribute the fact that, listen, I don’t know if that person would even have a persuasive case, but if you mentioned the person, I have three children, right? John, Jim, and Sue I am specifically not providing for Jim for reasons, best known to me, or I’m going leave Jim a small sum of money or something like that. But if you just say I’m leaving everything to John and Sue, later on, Jim could come back and say, and at least challenged the validity of the Will in some way.

So that’s it for today. I will keep giving you some provisions that really should be in a Last Will. If you have questions for me, want to speak about your situation, please go to my website frankbrunolaw.com.

What are some common provisions in a Last Will?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today, I’m going to start a series of videos on common provisions that are in a Will. What a better, how would I say this? There’s no better way to start than to start at the beginning, the Last Will and Testament of Frank Bruno.

So actually, I probably jumped ahead and I should have, should not have started there. I’ll give you some general information about the Will. A Will can have, the format is flexible. We’ll start there. However, you need certain prerequisites in the Will to make sure that it could get admitted into probate. It should be in writing, we should have two witnesses, should name an executor, but then there’s a number of common provisions that should go into a Will, and I’ll go through them in a series videos and I would say an overriding principle, if I don’t mention it as a specific item is to eliminate ambiguity.

Right, we want to make sure that the Will has a clarity and a focus and lets the people that survive you, know what to do with your estate. How to get what you have to those that you love or whoever you want it to go to. Meaning charitable organizations, or close friends, religious institutions, hospitals, wherever you want it to go.

I did say we’re going to start at the beginning in a rather typical format, format, I guess. The Last Will and Testament of Frank Bruno. Now some people, my Wills start out that way. That’s the first opening top line of the page. Some people have, you know, followed the trend of this Last Will of, with the belief that Testament doesn’t really mean much. I’m a traditionalist and for the sake of a tradition I use Last Will and Testament of the person’s name.

So, what else would I be in that first paragraph? I would say this is my name. This is my address. I think it makes sense to have the address there. And then I declare it to be the Last Will and that any previously written Wills, any prior Wills are vacated, they are rescinded, revoked, terminated, ripped up, get rid of the old and in with the new that’s all for today.

Can a financial institution be an Executor in a Last Will?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney. Speaking about executors, can a bank or financial institution be an executor in your Will? Yes, they can. So, in my entire career, I have never either counseled a client to use a bank or a financial institution and I’ve never had anyone request for a bank or a financial institution to be the executor.

So, it’s probably not advisable why? Well, there’s going to be an impersonal service. There’s going to be costs and fees associated with a bank or a financial institution, but I see why you might want that, right. That’s in an outsider, an entity that’s has no personal involvement with the family.

They can be detached so if you need to keep family harmony, if you have siblings or children that you think are going to be disagreeable or adversarial. You may want to pick someone that’s not a beneficiary, that’s not a relative, that’s someone separate and apart, an outsider if you will. Could be an attorney, it could be a friend.

So that person is not a family member, not a natural beneficiary, not an heir. So, it could be a friend, a trusted confidant, just someone other than the family that’s other than the beneficiary. That person may be the one that you’d like to be the executor.

If you have any questions about who can be the executor, reach out to me, send an email, schedule a phone call, frankbrunolaw.com.

Can my beneficiary be my Executor?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. You know, I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic, can a beneficiary be the executor of a Will? Yes. A beneficiary can be an executor of the Will, and in fact, it’s a common occurrence. I have seen a range of different situations and considerations by people,

and actually, I’ve had people prepare Wills where they have one child. That child is both the executor and the sole beneficiary. I’ve had, you know, five children be the beneficiaries with one of the children being the executor, who was chosen out of the five people. Right, in the example. Well, it follows a few patterns.

The oldest, sometimes people do pick the oldest person, the oldest child to be the beneficiary, to be the executor. Sometimes they pick the person by skill or acumen. Maybe one of their children is an accountant, or an attorney or just has the the mind for numbers is responsible person lives, close proximity.

Like all of those are the reasons that you might pick someone. I had a situation today spoke to a prospective client on the phone and in sharing the circumstances of the Will. There were three children and all three children are co-executors. That’s not a common one person or even two co-executors is a common plan.

Having three, having three children, three siblings as co-executors to my understanding is quite uncommon. I think that’s apparent that did not want to have any hurt feelings. So just set up all three of them. So, let’s see how the plan goes. Those three co-executors actually have to retain a lawyer to probate the Will.

So, if there’s a unan-, a unanimous decision, then I guess it would have worked out okay. If the three co-executors want to hire different people or don’t want to, or don’t have a common accord and that plan wasn’t that good. So, if you want to discuss possible options, please reach out to me frankbrunolaw.com.

Who can I choose to be my Executor?

Who do I choose as my executor? So, the most likely candidates are going to be your spouse, your children, or a sibling, maybe even a trusted friend. Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney. And we’re discussing the executor. An executor has the role within your Will to follow the instructions of the Will, and there’s a whole host of duties. I just completed a series where I identified 15 principle tasks or duties or obligations of the executor.

So today is who would be the likely person. Now your spouse is a good candidate. However, your spouse is probably around the same age as you no guarantee of that. But if you’re an elderly couple you probably age together, and does your spouse have the physical capability to take this task? What about if they’re stricken with grief, if they’re too upset, if they don’t have the mental headspace to be the executor. So, you have to weigh the pros and cons.

A child is a good candidate, but if you have more than one child, is it gonna, is it going to create a discord? Maybe for family harmony, you don’t pick a child. But overwhelmingly I either have spouse or child as the prime candidates for being an executor. Siblings quite often, someone will have a trusted sibling, brother or sister. And again, for family harmony, maybe for pick one, unless there’s a real tight relationship, but it’s something to consider.

And after everything I’ve mentioned the last potential candidate, although I guess there’s more people under the face of this earth and some that we could pick a trusted friend, if you have a, if you should be so lucky as to have a trusted friend, you can choose that person. You don’t need to be a beneficiary. You don’t even need to be relative. I should’ve said it that way. You don’t need to be a relative or even a beneficiary to be the executor. Just need to have trust and faith in that person.

If you’d like to speak to me about your options and you can always pick an attorney, right. The attorney that drew the Will, that’s a potential candidate. If you’d like to speak to me about your situation, please go to frankbrunolaw.com.

Should my Executor live in New York State?
Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! Today’s topic, should an executor live in the state where you’re probating? So, I’m a lawyer in New York only, greatest place on Earth, right. I probate throughout the city of New York, right? Nassau County, Suffolk…Does an executor have to reside in New York? No, they do not. I’ve represented executors that have been relatives in Europe, in other states, I’m working with someone in Canada right now, Trinidad and Tobago. Now I went far-field and I told you about other states, other countries in both places. If you are not a citizen then you need someone in the state, probably the lawyer involved to be an executor or a joint executor or an executor CTA, to assist. So, when I represented the daughter of a person that lived in Queens and she was residing in actually France. She was a citizen, but that’s where she was permanently residing and employed. I did assist by putting my name on the paperwork and attending a closing and capturing the money and then, you know, paying the bills that were here. Paying the obligations, the taxes, everything here. I had to do an accounting. I had to file a report with the Court and with my client as well. And so that’s one thing that you should think about when you’re considering appointing an executor to your Will. Proximity, even though the daughter was able to be the executor and she lived in Europe, most of the work was done by me, which is fine. I mean, I’m the, I was the attorney for the estate and I was able to do it in conjunction when I did it. We weren’t as facile with zoom, there was no zoom, so it was telephone calls. And overnight now, as the world is getting smaller, I can only imagine that it will be a little easier. So, make your executor, someone that lives far away, challenge me. If you have such a situation, reach out to me, we’ll discuss it. frankbrunolaw.com.

Is there a jury trial in guardianship?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic, trial practice. So, trial practice is where you have to advocate on behalf of your client and the position of your client in a courtroom.

So predominantly the work that I conduct is bench trials, jury trial. I don’t do jury trials, so I’ve done hundreds, if not thousands of trials in the Family Court and Supreme Court, where I had to direct cross opening, closing statements and written work, but always before a Judge or a referee or a magistrate. Not a jury, the area of guardianship in Supreme Court and probate and any Will contest or probate contest is also in front of just a Jurist, right.

We call that a bench trial sometimes you know, and really watching TV, you’ll see a trial like Law & Order, and they speak to a jury, the lawyers and the Judges there as a, I don’t want to go so far as to say a figurehead, but the Judge has to listen to the determination of the jury, but when a jury is not around and depending on the type of case, there are many cases that you can have just the bench trial: divorce, Family Law custody, support cases, guardianship cases what else? Criminal court, you can also waive a jury trial. All of it’s a person’s right.

If you want to speak about trial practice, about having a trial in the Surrogate’s Court or in Supreme Court for guardianship, please reach out to me, frankbrunolaw.com.

What should you look for in an Executor for your Last Will and Testament

What are you looking for in an executor? Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. You’re looking for three things, really someone that you trust, someone that can do the job, and someone that’s willing to do the job.

And the principal qualities that you’re looking for in an executor is someone that you trust, someone that has excellent organization skills, someone that has great communication skills and perseverance, right. They have to forge through, through the bills, through the tasks of being an executor, filing a tax return, gathering the bills, marshaling the assets. So, perseverance is something that I think is important.

What else? Really, I think the main thing is someone that you trust. I’ll get into in another video, you know, potential candidates and who you can pick. But the three things really are someone you trust, someone that you think can handle the job, someone capable, right? Someone you think is capable and can handle the job and someone that wants to do it. And then honest, trustworthy, skillful, organized, a great communicator.

If you need any assistance in who to choose, how to pick, and what that person needs to do please take a look at my website, frankbrunolaw.com.

How can I pass on this important family heirloom?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic, family heirlooms. I had a consult today with a, by phone, a conference call with a mother and daughter. And it was, I answered a series of questions about estate planning and elder law and whether or not a Will or a Trust was the you know, the type of strategy that should be employed.

And we also started speaking about some of the personal belongings and items of importance in the household, and there was one particular item that there was some thought put into it and some conversation and the mother and the daughter put forth an idea to me, and it could very well work in this family.

The father of the household had passed away and he had been a in his past a decorated Marine, and there was a flag that was, that is in the home and it has sentimental and it has importance and value to the family. And the daughter thought that perhaps what could, what could happen with this flag that had belonged to the father, and it’s now in the possession of the mother, is that upon the death of the mother that memorial flag could go to the eldest child and then the eldest child upon her death or at some future point, give it to the second eldest child and then in succession. And they could all keep that intern as a in memory of the father.

So, I hadn’t heard of that strategy before. And the issue might be, you know, what happens when the oldest daughter or oldest sibling, I don’t know who the oldest was. The child that I spoke to was not the oldest. She was like 39. So, you know, there’s some coordination that could be that could take place with that. It’s an idea that had not been presented to me before I had not thought of it, and it’s something I’m going to think about.

If you have any strategies for this type of heirloom, please reach out to me, frankbrunolaw.com, and I’d love to hear any suggestions that you have and might be some way that you’ve addressed such a scenario in your own family. Be well!

How does an Executor get compensated?

I have a crazy question for you. That’s how my telephone consultation started today. Believe it or not many people think that their situation is the craziest that I’ve ever heard. And it really isn’t, you know, I guess occasionally, I’ve encountered a crazy situation, but overwhelmingly people in circumstances, people in circumstances tend to repeat themselves.

So, this particular crazy question was a potential client called me and asked if a deed that was given to other family members a number of years ago, like 40 years ago. I think even a little bit, actually longer than that, if that deed could be rescinded. And basically, it was because the fact pattern was such that under duress many years ago, the family had really convinced or cajoled or pushed her dad into transferring the property to the names of all of 10 members.

And could you do that? You know, if it was 40 years ago, you probably 39 years too late memories, witnesses, observations, the persons that participated in it, right? The attorney that did the Will, the notary, the memory that anyone that’s still living would have really so, it’s not the craziest situation I’ve heard because I’ve had other similar fact patterns. So, by all means and I can’t do that, I can’t help this person in the way that she had envisioned, but the circumstances of her fact pattern are such that I can do something for her now.

So, when you call me, you may have a situation and you envision a plan or a method to resolve it, but that may not be grounded in the law or fact, but I might be able to come up with a situation or a remedy for you.

So please reach out www, three w’s, frankbrunolaw.com.

Is this a crazy question?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! Are executors entitled to compensation? So, in a Will, a Last Will and Testament, that’s probated in New York an executor is entitled to compensation. And across the country executors are you know, they’re permitted to be compensated and the methods to pay executives vary, by state. Some states are hourly, some states are the compensation is determined by a Judge and in New York compensation is a percentage of the estate.

The, what do I want to say about this, the compensation it’s paid for by the estate, right. So, any fee, the estate’s worth a hundred thousand and the executor’s entitled to compensation, I would say 5%, the $5,000 would come from the estate and then $95,000 would be available to distributor.

All right. I blanked out a little bit. This is late at night. I needed to get this recording in before the night ends. So, is it a little later than usual? Maybe. Some people in their Will, if they have a few children and any one of their children is an executor, some people choose to waive the fee. So, the decedent, the person is making the Will, testator, may choose to just remove compensation from the executor because they don’t want to develop or ferment bad blood between the siblings.

But if the state is rather large, you may not want to do that because there’s a lot of work for the executor, less work if they hire my law firm. And if you’d like to do that, please give me a call me or reach out to me through the website, frankbrunolaw.com.

How do we plan for the expected unexpected?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic back to the basics of estate planning. So, estate planning runs the gamut of legal issues for seniors. It involves financial and elder planning issues. It butts up against with tax planning, wealth legacy transfers, and it interplays with people with disabilities.

So, there’s a larger number of topics that can be discussed and need to be planned for. This can be termed the expected unexpected. What do I mean by that? Well, we know we’re getting older. We know we’re having issues with certain diseases, culturally, right?

Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS. We have more people diagnosed with issues of special needs and concerns.

We are aging as we always have, but we’re living longer and we’re living with conditions that had never before been in existence to the extent that we have people are physically strong, able to live well into their, into their nineties, but with a mental infirmity. So, we have to plan for that, think ahead and do all of this with dignity and humility and patience and care.

If you’d like to speak to me about any of these issues, please go to frankbrunolaw.com or you can call my office (718) 418-5000.

What is the fourth method to avoid probate? From the series six methods to avoid probate

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York and today I am continuing my series the six methods to avoid probate. Today I am on the fourth method. The fourth method to avoid probate is by using payable on death or transfer on death accounts, POD or TOD.

So, there are a great many benefits to using this. Well, New York will allow you to have a POD or a TOD account through regular banking institutions and all of your Chase Manhattan bank, TD bank, Bank of America. You can utilize transfer on death or payable on death accounts also in your brokerage account, your equities.

So, this is the way to go. If you would like upon your death, your asset bank account to go to one individual, one person where the benefits it’s cheap. Free to do another benefit is the person that as the payable on death, recipient has no access to your bank account. While you’re alive and you could spend down all of that money, you can use all of that money cause it’s your money.

Let me think, before I move into another topic, what else did I want to tell you about. Payable on death, the transfer on death. Yeah, I think that’s all I wanted to say. I’ll end on a final note. Cheap, easy. It’s easy because you ask the brokerage or bank for the form, just like you would with a beneficiary designation and you can make it. You make your account a POD or TOD and I’m going to say that a lot, turn this video as opposed to a joint account.

Because a joint account can be good if that’s what you want, but the joint holder has access to all of your money and you can’t terminate it at any time without the approval of the other joint tenant. POD, TOD account, you can close it at any time. And the final benefit that I want to tell you today is really the first benefit the money passes upon your death automatically without probate.

So that’s the fourth method to avoid probate.

Does New York have a transfer on death deed?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York.

Today’s topic, a continuation of my series on how to avoid probate. I’ve identified six methods and I’m just giving a brief little snippet of information, bite size nugget, to help you go about your way. Transfer on death deed is the third method. Now many states, or at least a number of states, allow this New York is not one of them.

We do not have a transfer on death deed. Two States will have something called a lady bird deed. We don’t have that either, it is the closest approximation of a transfer on death deed. So, I figured I’d mention it to let you know what we don’t have and to differentiate the laws in different states. I’m only admitted in New York and in New York, we can use a life estate deed to avoid probate.

So, if I’m the owner of a piece of property, I can say that I would like this one person, John Smith, Aida Jones, whoever it might be. I could say that I’m leaving, while in my life I’m going to allow what did I say? Aida Jones to have this property for all of her life or no, the reverse would be true.

Oh boy. Can’t seem to get it straight today. I will live here for the rest of my life and then on my death, it will go to, Aida Jones. Now, if it went to Aida Jones, whoever that may be that would not make my wife happy. But nonetheless, it would avoid probate and she might not have that much to say, so a life estate is where I would retain a life interest in the property, and then it would go to someone else.

Oftentimes, we’ll see this with parents in their advanced years would like to do this for a child. They want to give a property to their adult child, and they want to be able to stay there for the remainder of their life.

So, if you would like to speak to me about this or any other issue affecting our senior population or estate planning, elder law estate planning, guardianship, the number of things that I do please go to frankbrunolaw.com.

Do siblings fight to stay in the house?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today I conducted an estate planning webinar. I’ve been conducting them for some time now. 2019 through the beginning of 2020, I had in-person estate seminars at a restaurant, a hotel, different places. I did that nearly every month.

And I took a hiatus during lock that in place COVID-19 restrictions and just culturally, culturally, I didn’t, I didn’t want to conduct the webinars. Even, you know, even by Zoom, although I could have. I did resume in I want to say August and I’ve had them maybe July, July did something and I’ve had them every month since, and I conducted them, conducted one tonight.

And, you know, I, part of what I explain, or I give a, when I can a colorful story to explain and highlight a situation. And in doing that, I realized that I have three sets of adult siblings that are in the current roster of clients. I represent one sibling or an executor where we have three different cases that in each of these instances.

One of the beneficiaries to the estate did not want to leave a residence two-family home occupying one family and a multiple family, an apartment in a multiple family. Some of the fact patterns earlier this week, I shared with you that we secured an ejectment. That’s a proceeding similar in nature to an eviction, but it takes place in either Supreme or Surrogate’s Court and we did secure a decree of an ejectment. And as you can imagine, like an ejector seat, right, on a plane, an ejectment pushes someone out of the property. But really without proper planning, you subject yourself your family, right?

Without planning, I mean, you’re not around. So, it’s your family that absorbs the time and emotional conflict and baggage and, and just, it can really tear apart a family. So, think about proper planning so that you don’t have a situation where one person is trying to stay in a property just so they could wrest W R E S T, get a little more money, from the estate.

So, if you’d like to speak to me about a situation like this, or any issue affecting seniors, please go to frankbrunolaw.com.

How can we divide the real estate that we inherited?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law, probate attorney, and estate planning attorney. Today’s topic… huh, how do I frame it? It’s the interplay between three siblings, inheriting a property and trying to sell a house.

Oh boy, I represent one of three siblings that inherited a property and what they did was after the probate – I was not involved in the probate – after the probate, the property that was inherited from a parent, went to the three siblings equally. Now A, B and C are on the property together. It’s a property in New York City that has rental income and for the past two years, one of the siblings has been managing the property, collecting rent, paying bills, hopefully keeping a ledger.

I represent a sibling that is not quite sure what’s going on with the money, the rental income and the distributions. My client has some awareness of repairs that were necessary and has a partial list of you know, what the rents had been or should be, right. So, the reason I became involved is because say, you know, the person is now my client was not provided this information and really needs an accounting.

So, it’s not a Surrogate’s Court proceeding any longer and that’s because the property was distributed to the three of them. And they’ve been placed on title it’s now an entirely different process. What’s going to bring this to a head, is that the house is up, the commercial properties up for sale.

And, you know, once we have a buyer, I’m going to represent the one third owner in the contract negotiations, in the discussion, and then ultimately determining what rents, you know, all of the information related to like the ledger. What was the rent collected, the expenses made, and what distribution should be made?

This is really me seeking and accounting on behalf of the client. So, if you need that type of assistance, please reach out to me frankbrunolaw.com.

Can I use a post-nuptial agreement to protect a child from a prior marriage?

I’m going to dive right in! Post nuptial agreement for estate playing. Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney. I was contacted by a prospective client that will be getting married very soon and this person had children from a prior relationship. It was going to be her second marriage and she owned a home, and she had some other assets.

So, this was a phone consult and she wanted to you know, have a prenuptial agreement prepared. And I explained to her about the prenuptial agreement and, you know, the circumstances in which it would be valid and what would make it a good document and what would undermine the document and the fact that the wedding was planned, and it was going to be in just a couple of weeks.

That really in my professional opinion was problematic for the prenup, but she did in fact, want to have the house that she previously owned go to her child from a previous marriage. Prior relationship and, you know, with the new marriage effect that if her second husband and she resided in that home, and especially if she were resided that they resided, there was a couple for a significant length of time, what would happen?

In the discussion, we came upon a plan. So, it was my plan and she agreed with it. We’re going to do a Will for her, and that Will will leave the house to the child. We’re also with a number of other things, and we’re also going to do a post nuptial agreement. So, the marriage is going to take place after the marriage, we will have postnuptial agreement. It’ll be a written contract and it will specify assets and disclose assets and there’ll be you know, we’ll cross our, wait how does that go, we will dot our I’s and cross our T’s.

So, if you need me to be a grammarian for you, please reach out to frankbrunolaw.com.

How can I avoid the accusation of undue influence?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic, how can you avoid an allegation of undue influence? So, what does that even mean?

Well, in the preparation of a Will, it should be between the testator and the attorney drafting the Will. And what sometimes happens is that after a Will is brought to probate, a sibling, a relative, someone that’s not maybe getting what they believe to be their fair share of the estate of the decedent. That person can allege, if they want to contest the Will, they can allege undue influence, undue influence.

Now, what does that mean? Well, the allegation would be that a person that was ultimately named in the Will, the beneficiary, somehow inappropriately influenced the behavior, conduct, and the choices that the testator made. So how do you avoid that?

Well, I’m trying to find where my eyes are going. Sometimes I can never find where I’m supposed to look. I don’t know. It’s the silliest thing.

Well, if you have a person that you’d like to favor in your Will, maybe give them a higher percentage, more money, a certain asset should go to that person exclusively. A good course of action would be to eliminate that person from the process completely.

Don’t have them take you to the attorney. Don’t let them sit in on any meetings. Don’t let them be there at the Will signing. Don’t let them schedule your appointment. Keep them out of the process so that they’re not actively engaged and later on, should there ever be a will contest? They can really answer the questions that “No, I didn’t schedule an appointment.

I wasn’t there. I didn’t meet with the lawyer. I didn’t know what was going to be in the Will.” Right. You want them to be, you want to put them in a position where they honestly answer those questions in that manner. That’s what I have for today. Be well, be safe!

What does my executor do? Part 1

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic, it’s the first of a series of videos I’m going to have on what does your executor do? So generally speaking, an executor takes care of the affairs of the person that passed away. They manage and

probate the will, they collect assets, they distribute them to beneficiaries, they deal with third parties to hire lawyers, right. So, all of those tasks at the very least are what an executive does, and I’ve identified at least 15, and you know, as in many things in the law, I can expand that number to probably 19 or 20 or break it down to, you know, six or seven, depending on how finally, you know, the gradient in which I go.

So we take a like say a piece of bread and we make slices. We can go very thin on our slices and that’s what I’ll do to a certain extent so that we can figure this out and work through the issues. So the first duty that an executor has, is to locate and file the Will with the Surrogate’s Court.

Again that’s a big task, so do we want to start there or would the actual task be to locate the Will, the original Will, and then bring it to an attorney to create and draft a petition for ultimately obtaining letters of administration. So I’ll leave it here as the first task is to locate the original will.

Then either file it in the Surrogate’s Court or bring it to an attorney. Now, since I’m an attorney, I’m thinking you should bring it to my office. If you would like to speak with me about this or any issue related to probate or to our senior population, please go to my website frankbrunolaw.com.

What are the principal duties of an Executor?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. Today’s topic, a continuation, what are the principal duties of your executor? An executor is the person named in the Will and that person is responsible to probate your Will in New York, the Will has to be taken to the Surrogate’s Court. So yesterday was the first day. On this topic day two, the executor has to secure death certificates of the decedent.

The executor also has to gather all documents necessary to probate the Will. What does that mean? Well, each case will be different. Each circumstance is different. You need the original Will, you need information about the assets of the decedent, you need information related to beneficiaries or heirs, so gather up documents.

I think that’s all we’ll get to today. I identified 15 principal duties of an executor. Yesterday I gave a couple, today I gave two. I’m going to continue the series today’s day two, we’ll march on tomorrow. If you need to speak to me about your case, your situation, go to frankbrunolaw.com.

How can I use beneficiary designations to avoid probate?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today is a continuation of the series, the six methods to avoid probate. Today’s method, beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. It’s a really simple and effective method to avoid probate.

Before I expand, if you’d like to give me a call and discuss your situation, please go to my website, frankbrunolaw.com. You can schedule an appointment. I’ve been doing a 15, 20-minute telephone calls and if there’s an issue that I can help you with, we can schedule an in-person appointment. I also conduct zoom, in-person, and telephone appointments.

So, beneficiary designations. Life insurance proceeds, and retirement accounts, such as 401k or IRAs, a person has the ability to put a beneficiary on. So, that on the death of the holder of these accounts, any monies in those respective accounts or life insurance policy will be transferred directly to the beneficiary. They just needed to produce a death certificate. There’s pros and cons to this method. If you have a life insurance policy or the accountant actually will give information for both of these categories.

If you put one person on as a beneficiary, but you have three, four or five children, or you would like to split that asset up among a few people, a beneficiary designation may not be the way to go. You might want to have that asset be made payable to the estate of, and then it could be distributed. Also, if you have a beneficiary designation, the person will get a lump sum of money. Whereas if you put it into your trust, you could have that money dispersed over a longer period of time.

And you could assist the person, if you know that this is the type of person that maybe has a drug or alcohol problem or they’re a spend thrift, or they’re not good with money, or if they had a large sum of money, they might spend it on one venture and potentially be out the money. Whereas you might want to give them a lifetime of security by having the money, dispersed to them over a longer period of time.

These are different strategies that we could discuss, if you would like to discuss this or any other topic affecting the senior population, elders, or transferring wealth to the next generation. Please reach out to me, frankbrunolaw.com.

Why do you need a power of attorney?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Why you need a power of attorney? You need a power of attorney, ah! Before I get to that, if you’d like to speak with me about a power of attorney or any issue dealing with elder law please go to frankbrunolaw.com. Why would you need a power of attorney?

Well, in the event that you had some condition that prevented you from acting on your own behalf, it is good to appoint a trusted advisor, a person that can act on your behalf, an agent. So in the event, the power of attorney is a document that you name a person to step into your financial and legal position to act on your behalf.

It’s a great document to protect the person in the event that you have dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, or become incapacitated in some way. If you have that condition, the power of attorney and specifically a durable power of attorney will survive your incapacity. Now, some people are concerned about the document.

There are steps we could take. We could do a power of attorney prepared for you and put language in that it won’t be released until an eventual incapacity, or it would only be released specific direction, a power of attorney can be revoked at any time provided the maker has capacity.

So really there’s much more I could say about the power of attorney, but you really should think about having that document and you should create the document before you’re faced with that any incapacity of some kind, because then you can’t recreate it. You can also have it and not need to use it, but if you’ve never made it and you need it and it doesn’t exist, then your family will have to go through a guardianship proceeding, costly, lengthy, time-consuming, anxiety ridden. So, please reach out to me at frankbrunolaw.com.

Why should you sign a health care proxy?

Welcome Frank Bruno law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic, I saw question posted with a weird angle. The question was, why you should sign a healthcare proxy? Yes, that’s, how it was, why you should sign a health care proxy, not as if the question is posed from a just a regular consumer person typing in questions to the internet, you know, why should I sign a healthcare proxy?

It’s “why” no, not “why don’t”. Yes, “why you should.” Okay, basically enough. I wasn’t sure that I really saw the answer to that, why you should. So, a healthcare proxy, once you sign, it allows someone else to access your medical records and dialogue with your doctor. Right? So, make medical decisions for you, speak with your doctor, access medical records in the event that you can’t.

I guess why should you is because if you can’t do those things, you would like a representative, a person on your behalf that’s very concerned about your wellbeing. Right? You’re going to have this be a person that really is looking out for your best interests your deepest, closest relationship, your best friend, your spouse, an adult child that doesn’t have an in for you.

That’s why you should do it. You should do it because if you can’t speak for yourself, you need a champion in your corner. I could be that person for you. Why should you call me? Well, you should if you need answers, if you need assistance with your circumstances. Please go to frankbrunolaw.com, make an appointment.

We’ll have a conversation. We’ll figure things out.

Can a guardianship proceeding stop a divorce?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today’s topic, I’m going to discuss a court appearance and a court assignment that I was given in the area of, at the interplay between article 81 guardianship and divorce. So, there was a case that predated my involvement.

Where a husband and wife were getting divorced, and this is really in the area of a gray divorce, right? A senior couple getting divorced and someone in the proceeding, again I wasn’t there, identified that one of the spouses, husband or wife, I want to leave it a little mysterious.

One of the spouses required a guardian. So, the divorce was halted, and a petition was made for the appointment of a guardian and a hearing was held. And as a result of the hearing, I was appointed the special temporary guardian of this individual. Now I represent the person I represent, well, I do represent, let me, let me explain this.

I am now the guardian, special guardian of the person and I’m counsel to the special guardian. So, I have both the role of guardian and I’m the lawyer for the guardian. And the reason I need to be my own lawyer, well a lawyer for the guardian of this individual, is that I am in the midst of the defense and prosecution of the divorce.

So as people age, it’s not always with age, but as people age, we may have to confront the issues of or variety of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body syndrome, there’s more than 140 recognized forms of dementia. And in this instance, the divorce could only continue after the introduction of a guardianship case and the appointment of a special guardian.

So, if you have any issues like this, maybe your parents are getting divorced. If your spouse has some issues you may need to call me, and we can work through the issues. I can be reached through my website, frankbrunolaw.com.

Can I Use Gifts To Avoid Probate?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Today is the last day of my series, the six methods to avoid probate. I might have one more, actually, to summarize these, but for today, this is method number six and it is lifetime gifts. You can give your money away during your life.

You can give to any one individual, the sum of $15,000 per year, gift tax free. Say you have three children, you could give to child A, B and C $15,000 each. In my example, you can remove $45,000 from your probate estate by giving that money to your children. If you have seven grandchildren, you could give away $15,000 to each of the grandchild every year.

Right? Let’s do the math 15,000 times seven. 90, 105 maybe? I didn’t do the math but, you get rid of it. Now, gift tax and the world of Medicaid do not speak to each other. They follow different rules. So, if you’re in or around the five-year period prior to the need of nursing home, they may not know. Medicaid will look at any gift, not $15,000. They’ll look at any gift over $1,500. The actual number right now is $1,200. Any gift over $1,200 has to be explained. Any disbursement within the five years, the 60 months before applying for Medicaid has to be accounted for; you have to state $250 to go to this wedding or $300 to pay for this room being painted, etc.

Whatever your situation is you have to account for every disbursement, from the bank accounts. The gifts made during your life, if that person is healthy, robust, young, and they want to give away the money, it reduces the probate estate and you get the benefit of seeing the person enjoy the money during your life.

Let's talk about Beneficiary Designations

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I am Frank Bruno. I am an elder law and estate planning attorney in Queens, New York. I’ve been serving Queens and the surrounding counties for more than 20 years.

Today I would like to speak to you about beneficiary designations. Before I do that, I’d like to let you know if you want to meet with me, if you have a question, if you’d like to speak with me on the phone please check out my website www.frankbrunolaw.com and you can find my scheduling page at  www.callfrankbruno.com.

Beneficiary designations, what are they? Well, life insurance policies, annuities, and retirement accounts allow you to designate a beneficiary. That means upon your death, the sums of money within those financial instruments goes directly to your beneficiary. There is a pro to that. The pros are, you avoid the cost and the delay associated with probate. It’s also not a public event, all the beneficiary has to do is produce a death certificate provided to that institution and the money will be given directly to them. Now there’s a con, the con is that the beneficiary designation will defeat your will or trust. It happens by operation of law; meaning it’s automatic. Now it is a very useful technique within a larger estate plan. You may very well want to avoid probate and the costs associated but you have to determine within the grand scheme. What you want to do and how you want to do it?

Now who can be a beneficiary and who can you designate? Well, it could be your spouse, it could be your children, it could be your charitable organization, it could be your significant other. It could be your own trust or whoever you want to name. I will tell you that you should keep your beneficiary designations up to date and some of the milestone events in your life like births, deaths, remarriage. You would be in significant trouble if you left your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. I don’t think too many people would want to do that.

Again, if you need to speak with me, if you’d like to speak with me, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. Thank you!

How do I create a trust?

Welcome to Frank Bruno law! I am Frank Bruno. How do we create a trust?

How do we create a trust? Well a trust is created by a settlor, s-e-t-t-l-o-r or we call that person a grantor. The settlor creates the trust and takes property and money or physical real property and places it into the trust. The settlor names a trustee. The trustee acts on behalf of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries. What else could I say about it? If money or property is never placed into a trust, then it’s not funded and the trust really is a useless document; so we have to fund it. It’s created from a settlor, you have a trustee who manages the trust and the affairs of the trust and then you have beneficiaries and those are the three-party participants, or the people involved in the trust.

What else? A trustee can be compensated, a trust can be an individual person, or it could be a corporate trustee. The trustee has a fiduciary responsibility. So that’s how you create a trust. If you would like me to create a trust for you, please reach out to me. If you have a trust and you want to discuss amendments or discuss how your trust works within the context of your comprehensive plan, please reach out to me at www.frankbrunolaw.com. Thank you!

What is an Estate?

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I’m Frank Bruno. Today I’d like to speak with you about your estate. What is an estate? What can I let you know? If you have a question, if you’d like to set an appointment, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. Set a time, we can speak on the phone or in person.

Well, what is an estate? We hear of estate planning, what are we planning? Well, an estate consists of all your personal property such as jewelry, comic book collection, baseball cards, Hummels, figurines, all those personal items, real property, the personal residence that you live in, any investment property that you may have, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, any kind of investment account, 401k, 403b, any retirement accounts that’s part of your state.

Cash, money in the bank, green cash, gold cash, gold nuggets or regular checking or savings account, annuities, insurance policies, and all your stuff that consists of your estate. Again, if you need to speak with me, if you’d like to set an appointment, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. Thank you!

Who Needs an Estate Plan?: The Butcher, The Baker and The Candlestick Maker

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and estate planning attorney in New York. Today I want to tell you about two conversations that I had yesterday that I think people would benefit from. Before I get to that, if you’d like to book an appointment, to speak with me in person or on the phone, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com

Yesterday, I had a telephone call with a gentleman I know from the real estate industry and he said Frank I’ve been watching your Facebook videos both me and my wife. He said I’m 68 years old, is this for me? So I said yes. Yes you’re a young, vibrant 68 years old, you’re still in the workforce, you’re healthy. Yes! You need to plan now, and it is for you. We had a little conversation and he told me that he had a Will and gave me some specifics about the Will, and I said that really could be a fine plan. It could really be good but it does not anticipate any need for long-term care so he and his wife are going to come in and we’re going to go through the ins and outs and the challenges that may be ahead. 

Later in the day, I had a 29-year-old single woman with two children come in and she also needs a plan right? She doesn’t need the same plan, but she needs a plan specific for her and for her children. Both of her children are under 18, they’re minors, so yes she also needs a plan. We all need a plan! The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. If you would like to speak with me, if you have any questions, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. Like and share this post, give me a like, I think you could like my law office that would be helpful, and I look forward to speaking to you soon!

Safety Deposit Boxes

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I’m Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and estate planning attorney in Queens New York. I’ve been serving Queens and the surrounding counties for the past 20 years. Today, I want to speak about an interview that I conducted yesterday. The situation that came up that I think many of my listeners could benefit from. But first, if you have a question for me, if you’d like to have a consultation, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com and schedule an appointment. 

Yesterday, I conducted an interview with a woman. An elderly woman and her adult daughter and we reviewed some documents that she brought to me including a photocopy of her will. I reviewed the will and we discussed what had changed and what her present needs were. Along the way, I asked where the original will was and the original will is in a safe deposit box. I’d like to mention; you really need to have either another person be a co-owner of the safe deposit box or you should take the Will out of the safe deposit box and place it in another safe location or home. Maybe a fireproof box. 

When the time comes that the original Will is necessary upon the passing of the Will holder, the original has to be produced and that original Will be difficult to get from the safe deposit box if you don’t have a co-owner. It will involve a proceeding in Surrogates’ Court. We make an application to have the Box opened. It’s a proceeding that comes at a time when you don’t really need to have any extra effort, any extra time spent, it will be a delay and there will be a cost associated with it. So please safeguard the Last Will at home. If you have any other questions, if you’d like to meet with me, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. Thank you!

Estate Planning for Unmarried Same-Sex Couples

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I’m Frank Bruno. I’m an estate planning and elder law attorney located in Queens, New York. I’ve been serving the community for more than 20 years. Today, I’d like to speak to you about an interview I conducted today with a same-sex couple. An unmarried same-sex couple but first if you’d like to make an appointment with me, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. If you’d like to see my website, take a look at my blog posts, and articles that are written, please go to www.frankbrunolaw.com

Today, I interviewed a couple. An unmarried couple that wanted to plan together. Well, it certainly is possible to have the desire and the reasons to want to plan together but an unmarried couple cannot have a joint trust. We talked about a number of other things that they could do such as beneficiary designations, leaving each other in the will, putting each other as trustees of a trust, but singles have no set person that’s identified as their partner and therefore they can’t be holders of a joint trust. We also discussed the health care proxy power of attorney, living Will, and trusts. 

This among many other things can be discussed at my office. If you have a question, if you’d like to speak with me, if you’d like to set an appointment, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. Thank you!

First Post in a Multi-Part Series on Trusts

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I’m Frank Bruno. I’m an estate planning and elder law attorney located in Queens, New York. Today, I’d like to start a multi-part series on trusts.

What is a trust? But first, if you’d like to set an appointment with me, if you’d like to speak on the phone, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. What is a trust? Well, I’d like to give you some information about this area of the law. I will tell you that it’s a very broad and deep area of law. It’s an area that I’ve studied for years. I’ve gone to many trainings, week-long training sessions at a time, and have practiced in this field for a long time so we can’t get everything at once and we’re gonna take small little bites and together, we’ll explain a little bit about trusts and have you learn a little bit more so that you can make a sound decision about your own situation. Well, what is a trust?

The legal terms for trusses, it’s a contract between the grantor, the trustee, and the beneficiaries. A grantor is a person that owns the asset. The trustee is the person that controls the trust. In certain trusts, it could be the same person. The beneficiaries, are the people that receive benefits from the Trust.

There are two broad categories of trusts. One is called a testamentary trust and another set of trusts are called living trusts and we can describe those by thinking about a testamentary trust is created upon your death and a living trust is created while you’re living. A testamentary trust is created within your will and I want you to think about it like this. We call the title of the document, a will. It’s a last will and testament. So, within that document upon a person’s death, there can be created a testamentary trust. 

Now that Trust has no effect during the life of the person. It is created upon the person’s death and after an executor goes to surrogates court and has the will probated. So the situation with a testamentary Trust is that it’s not a useful document for disability and it’s not a useful document to avoid probate because it requires probate to exist. So that’s a testamentary Trust. There are more things I could say, it’s more detailed and complicated than that but as an initial discussion, that’s what I’m going to leave testamentary trusts. The other very broad category are living trusts. As the name implies although it’s not always intuitive. It’s created while you’re alive, while you’re living you create either a revocable or an irrevocable trust. Revocable means you could rip up the trust, you could revoke it whenever you wanted to. 

If you wanted to, there are consequences to that and circumstances but broadly that’s what revocable means. And there’s an irrevocable trust. That means once you put any assets into the trust, they can’t get back out of the trust without some difficulty. Alright, there might be a way that we can explode the trust or break it up or ultimately end it but really very concretely revocable can be revoked. Irrevocable cannot be revoked unless certain circumstances exist. 

If you have any further questions about this or any other related topic to elder law and estate planning, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com. You could also look at my website www.frankbrunolaw.com. I’m open to questions, comments, phone interviews, and in-person meetings. Thank you very much for your time and this is just the first of a multi-part series on trusts. Thank you!

Third Post of a Multi-Part Series on Trusts –SNT

Welcome to Frankl Bruno Law! I’m Frank Bruno. I’m an estate planning and elder law attorney located in Queens, New York. Today is part 3 of my series on trusts and if you have any questions on trusts or want to reach me, please go to www.callfrankbruno.com.

Today we’re going to detour into the world of special needs trusts. There are two broad categories, pooled special needs trusts which are run by charitable organizations, and private special needs trusts. SNTs can also be called supplemental needs trusts. This is when a person either classified as disabled or with special needs either presently has or seeks to obtain government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid food stamps, house shelter allowances.

Housing those government programs have strict resource limits and what a person needs to do is if they have large assets in their name, they need to put open up a special needs trust, put the assets into the special needs trust either continue with their government benefits or apply for government benefits and then use the assets within the special needs trust to supplement not supplant basic necessities.

The money within the special needs trust cannot pay for food or shelter but it can pay for things like vacation education certain medical needs that aren’t covered by insurance and upon the applicant’s death there is a recovery by the government up to the amount of the asset that’s within the special needs trust. So, if you have any questions on special needs trusts or the area where to look, please reach out to me at www.callfrankbruno.com. Thank you!

Second Video in a Multi-Part Series on Trusts

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law! I’m Frank Bruno. I’m an estate planning and elder law attorney located in Queens, New York.

Today will be part two of my bite-size series on trusts but first I can be reached at www.callfrankbruno.com for telephone or in-person consultations. Yesterday we learned that a trust is a contract. It’s a legal contract between a grantor, a trustee, and a beneficiary and that’s the legalese of the document. A trust is a legal document or a legal instrument created by an attorney and it’s similar in nature to a corporation in that it’s a separate entity that can own, hold, buy, or sell property according to a specific set of instructions.

Now, it’s the specific set of instructions that sets a trust apart. The instructions is like a rule book, like an instruction manual for how a trustee will manage the trust. Now the grantor can set conditions for when the trustee can distribute assets to the beneficiaries. A set of conditions can be something like “upon my death, all of my assets go to this beneficiary or these series of beneficiaries ABCD”, however many different conditions that a grantor can set and dictate for a trustee to follow is “upon my beneficiary reaching the age of 25, I want this sum of money or this percentage of money to go to that person”, “upon the age of 35 I want the remaining sum of money to go”, or whatever the grantor wants to put into the trust. It’s specific and as unique as individuals are. Now that would be for either a revocable living trust or an irrevocable trust. The takeaway for today on a revocable living trust is that it’s a private document, it’s not open to public scrutiny, and that it doesn’t provide asset protection for the grantor during their life. It could provide asset protection to the beneficiaries so upon the grantor is death but that’s the key takeaway for today. A revocable living trust does not provide asset protection for a grantor. Okay, if you need to speak with me, I can be reached at www.callfrankbruno.com. Thank you!

A Durable Power of Attorney Cannot Limit the Actions of the Drafter Transcription:

Welcome to Frank Bruno Law. I am Frank Bruno. I’m an elder law and probate attorney in New York. Why you need a power of attorney? You need a power of attorney, ah! Before I get to that, if you’d like to speak with me about a power of attorney or any issue dealing with elder law please go to frankbrunolaw.com. Why would you need a power of attorney?


Well, in the event that you had some condition that prevented you from acting on your own behalf, it is good to appoint a trusted advisor, a person that can act on your behalf, an agent. So in the event, the power of attorney is a document that you name a person to step into your financial and legal position to act on your behalf.


It’s a great document to protect the person in the event that you have dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, or become incapacitated in some way. If you have that condition, the power of attorney and specifically a durable power of attorney will survive your incapacity. Now, some people are concerned about the document.
There are steps we could take. We could do a power of attorney prepared for you and put language in that it won’t be released until an eventual incapacity, or it would only be released specific direction, a power of attorney can be revoked at any time provided the maker has capacity.
So really there’s much more I could say about the power of attorney, but you really should think about having that document and you should create the document before you’re faced with that any incapacity of some kind, because then you can’t recreate it. You can also have it and not need to use it, but if you’ve never made it and you need it and it doesn’t exist, then your family will have to go through a guardianship proceeding, costly, lengthy, time-consuming, anxiety ridden. So, please reach out to me at frankbrunolaw.com.