Estate Planning Matters - April 2016
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National Pet Day!

Do you have a pet? Did you know that Monday, April 11th, is National Pet Day? National Pet Day was founded to celebrate the joy pets bring to our lives and to encourage adoption. I read an article recently that said an estimated 70 to 80 million dogs and 74 to 96 million cats are owned in the United States. That doesn’t even count birds, fish, and other domestic pets. If you have a pet, have you addressed how your pet will be cared for in your estate plan? Whether you are a dog person, a cat person (or another type of animal person), you should make sure your estate plan addresses what happens to your pet when you are no longer able to care for them.

When we prepare an estate plan, we often include provisions to make sure your pets are cared for. In case of disability, we have added a clause in most of our Power of Attorney forms that allows your Attorney In Fact (the person you appointed in the Power of Attorney) to take care of your pets, including dealing with the Veterinarian. (If you did your Power of Attorney with someone else, you may want to have it checked, and possibly updated if you have a pet.) In addition, your planning documents should also address what will happen to your pet(s) when you pass away.

In New York, pets are treated as personal property. As such, you can leave a bequest in your Will directing who will receive your pet when you pass away. Some people even leave that person some money to help cover any costs associated with the care of your pets. In this case however, you should know you are simply relying on the person named to take care of your pet.

However, there is a better way. Did you know you can also set up a Trust for the benefit of your pet? New York State’s Estates, Powers and Trust Law specifically allows for an “honorary trust for pets” to be set up so you can make sure your pets are properly cared for. In many cases, this is superior to just leaving your pet to someone in your Will. In fact, the Trust can be drafted in a very flexible way to make sure your pet gets treated the way you would like after you pass away, including checks and balances to ensure your wishes are carried out..

If you think a pet trust may be right for you, call me and we can help make it happen.


Patrick J. Roth, Esq., CPA

Article Index
National Pet Day
Another Major Change To Social Security Change
Planning For Your Pets
Get To Know Benjamin J. Palladino
Monthly Recipe


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Another Major Change To Social Security Change

Last month we discussed a major change to Social Security related to File and Suspend (check it out here if you didn’t get a chance to read it). This month I am covering another strategy that many married couples have been using to maximize their benefits that is also being eliminated as a result of the federal budget deal that President Obama signed into law in November. This strategy is known as the “Claim Now, Claim More Later”. The “Claim Now, Claim More Later” strategy was available in the past for seniors who wanted to claim benefits at their full retirement age. Under this strategy, a higher-earning senior could file and claim only spousal benefits, while delaying claiming benefits based on his or her own work record. Then at age 70, the senior could switch, discontinuing the spousal benefits and claiming benefits on his or her own record – which would be larger because the senior waited to claim them.

This technique was known as "claim now, claim more later." It is also being eliminated by the new law.

However, if you were at least 62 years old at the end of 2015, the good news is that you will not be affected and you’ll still be able to use the technique.

As for individuals who were 61 or younger at the end of 2015, when they apply for spousal benefits, Social Security will assume that they are also applying for benefits based on their own work record. These workers will be eligible for whichever benefit is larger, but they will not be able to just take the smaller spousal benefit and allow their own benefits to keep increasing until age 70.

Importantly, this change does not apply to survivor's benefits. A surviving spouse will still be able to choose to take survivor's benefits first, and then switch to retirement benefits later if the retirement benefit is larger.

Again, this could be a very good time to contact your lawyer to see if your retirement strategy needs to change as a result of the new rules.

Planning For Your Pets

In my introduction I talked about some things to consider when planning for your pets. For even more information, check out our free resource that deals with this topic in even more depth. Our in depth article deals with providing for pets upon your death, how to fund pet trusts, terms you may want to consider and identification. To get your full copy, just click on this link (Planning For Pets) and follow the instructions. After you have had a chance to read it, let me know what you think. Thanks. .

Benjamin J. Palladino
Marketing Coordinator | Legal Assistant | Technical Support

As someone with a background grounded in technology and design, Ben never really considered working for a law firm until he was approached by Patrick – but both of them are thrilled that he took the job. Ben has been able to greatly expand his knowledge in a number of different areas of the law, and he’s discovered a passion and knack for marketing. Patrick has a legal assistant who’s also able to serve as the firm’s marketing, tech, and design guru.

Ben considers himself something of a movie buff; so if you’re curious about the latest releases or looking for something in a specific genre, feel free to stop by his desk when you come in. Ben does a lot of graphic and web design in his free time to practice and expand his knowledge including; staying up to date on the latest SEO practices, software, and many other industry standard changes... READ MORE

Recipe Corner - Fruit Delight

Whether you've celebrated Easter or will celebrate Passover later this month, this fruit delight recipe is sure to delight you and your friend's appetites when dining together!


  • 1 1/2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1/2 Cups of Sugar
  • 1/3 Cups Melted Butter or Margarine
  • 1 Cup Softened Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Milk (For Cream Cheese Mix)
  • 3 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 3 1/2 Cups Whipped Topping
  • 2 Pints Desired Fruit (Strawberries, Ba11pxnanas, Kiwi, etc.)
  • 2 Packages Instant Pudding (Desired Flavor)


  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of sugar and melted butter/margarine.

  2. Press firmly into bottom of a 13x9 pan.

  3. Set aside and chill.

  4. Beat cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk until smooth.

  5. Fold in half of the whipped topping and spread into pan.

  6. Using 3 1/2 cups milk; prepare pudding as directed on the package.

  7. Chill several hours.

  8. Shortly before serving, spread remaining whipped topping over pudding, and garnish with additional fruit.

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