ELDER LAW is an area of law that emerged in the mid 1980s in response to the ever-increasing needs of an aging population, bringing together several disciplines in the practice of law to address the concerns of senior citizens. Those concerns revolve primarily, but not exclusively, around the challenges of asset preservation and the smooth transfer of those assets from the older generation to the same or younger generations. In many instances, the challenge arises from the sudden onset of a long-term health care crisis which can drain the middle class senior of his/her modest wealth and limit what can be passed on. It is important to plan ahead for these eventualities, and we are prepared to assist with our knowledge of several areas of law (Estate Planning, Trusts, Real Estate, Tax Law, Contract Law, and Public Benefits). Medicaid planning is one way to protect assets, and we have, on staff, Medicaid experts who will explain the process and assist with the Medicaid application.
We began working with clients in the area of Elder Law before it became a recognized practice area of the Bar. In cooperation with the Cayuga County Office of the Aging, we have been privileged to provide programs to educate seniors and about-to-be-seniors about their rights and to recognize the importance of consulting an experienced and competent Elder Law attorney.
ESTATE PLANNING AND ADMINISTRATION
The firm has provided clients with ESTATE PLANNING services spanning three generations of attorneys and over six generations of clients. The estate tax laws have changed over time and will continue to change, and our commitment to lessening the tax burden for our clients has remained steadfast. Our comprehensive approach to planning for the transfer of assets and wealth from one generation to the next includes a number of options. A plan may be as basic as the execution of wills, powers of attorney, and health care directives. A more sophisticated plan may involve living trusts, trusts under wills, asset preservation trusts, lifetime exempt and discounted gifting, family business succession planning, charitable gifting, generation-skipping transfer tax trusts, life insurance trusts, and IRA planning to stretch benefit payments, including the use of pass-through (conduit) trusts. One plan does not fit all, so we welcome the chance to discuss your and your family’s situation and your goals.
The natural extension of Estate Planning is ESTATE ADMINISTRATION, or the proper distribution of assets following the death of a loved one. As important as the legal and technical aspects of estate administration are, we are well aware of the emotional component and are available at any time to answer questions and provide guidance. The actual process of administering an estate is dictated by law and more specifically by the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the deceased lived. The process differs somewhat depending on the manner of ownership of the assets. We prepare all documents necessary for the administration of the estate and distribution of assets. Should there be a dispute regarding the assets, we are experienced in Estate Litigation in Surrogate’s Court.
Whether our clients are first-time home owners or experienced at buying and selling real property, they depend on our many years of expertise in this area. We have a dedicated staff ready to assist our clients with home and commercial purchases and sales, mortgage financing/refinancing, tax and assessment negotiations, or with commercial development and leases. Our firm also has a long history of representing banks in residential and commercial mortgage financing. We are proud of our background in real estate law, and our attorneys place a strong emphasis on this work.
CORPORATIONS and LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES (LLC)
We are committed to the continued growth of businesses in the central New York community, whether that business is already established and plans to expand, or it is the dream and then reality of an entrepreneur. Our first obligation is to assist a client in the determination of the most appropriate entity within which to operate a newly formed business. There are several aspects to consider in this determination including control, ownership participation, profit distribution, licensing and taxation. The two broad categories of the more popular business entities are Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLC). Depending on which entity is most appropriate for the client, we will prepare and file the organizational documents with the Department of State as well as work with the client to determine policies and procedures for the operation of the Corporation or LLC.
Our firm has the skill and experience to represent our clients in the acquisition and sale of businesses. The transaction, whether it involves an asset purchase or a stock or membership purchase, requires a due diligence review of the business and its assets to insure the transfer of good and marketable title. The circumstances presented may also require bulk sales tax review and potential environmental and personnel issues. Our goal is to aid the client in achieving the desired outcome from the transaction and to avoid the potential for future conflict over unresolved issues.
We provide quality and cost-effective attorney representation of individuals and businesses in pre-litigation negotiation and in-court litigation of lawsuits. Because litigation can be stressful, costly and time-consuming, we recognize that negotiation, legwork, and cost management are as important as courtroom skills in making certain a lawsuit doesn’t burden a client’s life or business.
We have considerable litigation experience in contract, business, commercial leasing, and real estate disputes, tax assessments, land use and zoning issues and public sector matters. Further, we are experienced in estate litigation in Surrogate’s Court related to will contests, trust disputes, beneficiary claims, fiduciary liability claims, estate and trust mismanagement, and probate matters.