Jeff Voelkl - Estate Planning

On Target with Penny Wolfgang
Sunday, April 9th

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

This is on target with penny Wolfgang a program that takes an inside look at what is happening in Western New York with news features and special guests. Now here's your host penny Wolfgang. Hello everybody. Thank you so much for joining me today I am your host penny Wolfgang you are listening to on target. Which we hope you do every week and we are going to be talking every week about subjects that we think our interest seeing an important in educational and we're going to be. Introducing you to guests who are making a difference here in western new York and we are going to be covering. All kinds of subjects that hour not even related to each other sometimes we're going to talk about health. We're going to talk about law enforcement we've talked about. Immigration law recently. We have not trying to think you'll when what else Jim did you talk about its toll a lesson he talked about the Revere theater which is really hit it interesting wasn't it. And be history museum. The history museum in buffalo and not too long ago we talked about the Amherst. History museum which is called something else you know they keep changing the name but it's basically this sheet music. But anyway so we are and cultural affairs and we're going to be talking about the theaters soon in canal side. Art park well you just name it. But of course when my favorite subjects and since I am the host I try to concentrate and a favorite subjects besides your theater in the arts of course as you don't know is the off. And we have recently discovered that a lot of people have misconceptions. About. How important to a will is too in their lives depending on their age in their circumstances and so many young people especially have said oh well I don't need a will or if I dude you will just go on the Internet. Carl just get a form neurologist do when they called it lawyer is RS thing we'd just do it. By yourself to yourself and we have found out by talking to many people. That this is not the way to do estate planning this is not the way to plan your future. Or your family's future for two to dispose of your state if you have to. You need an attorney can you need a lot of education and information before you can take care of this very crucial issue properly. So in the studio with the CA is that attorney that you need because he is very well known person here in western new York and also. A specialist in the field of what we call state plan. And you may know him as judge Jeffrey vocal. Attorney Jeffrey fogel also. And he is a partner in Russia and Vogel a very well respected law firm here in Western New York in Williams felt. So having said all of that you better prove you've been up prove me wrong. Danica light at all these things they said. Judge vocal well as my listeners really really upset. Well I I hope to live up to advanced an incredible build up their things over the rigorous right at expect out of a little things out. And she says you've been practicing attorney for our X amount of year or nearly 25 years I'll come and yes yes that perhaps. On my they've my anniversary for my school graduating so that's coming up this summer and it's been a terrific terrific career and there's a lot and I've learned over the past five years particularly in the field of estate planning. And the evolution you know it was it was a very different field when I first started practicing because. The Internet was just literally in its infancy and the idea of legal research and doing it online was in its infancy. In now. Everybody is doing everything imaginable online and I understand that I think that there is certainly. Any desire to come out a tie certain things in your life. But come out of Tyson your estate plan. By just getting some generic information online and doing it yourself is such a huge huge mistake to people I see time and time again. Particularly. In the last five to ten years of my practice that they're making that love to talk to you about that give you some examples. And why that type of strategy if you will. It is probably not the way to go. Real people diagnosed themselves that they can have like fatal illness for all we know. And they diagnosed themselves. What's wrong with them by going online and looking up their symptoms. Instead of going to a doctor or specialist and we know how that can go bad. You don't know may pigeon shoot doing match compare and and as you said doing your state planning. Without going to a professional to help you. Well hey you know that's a great example because I think that going around line in getting some background information so that when you meet with the professional. You can talk more intelligently about it. And have your questions home to better it's ours what you want to identify as being important I think the Internet is a great tool for something like that. But then to take it to the next step. Of performing surgery on yourself and right or preparing your own estate plan is probably a mistake because they're ours there's only so much information that you can really glean. Generically off the Internet that's gonna be of assistance to you. Even if you go to one of these legal zooms where there actually providing you with the documents there's a lot more that goes into it than just the basic fill in the blank form. And people that make those mistakes. Usually come to me after the fact and it's always far harder to correct that mistake and to get it right in the first instance I hope they come all the still alive. Well if that is really the problem the people are experiencing is that they don't have the problem because they're dead. It's your loved ones in your errors that are left with cleaning up your mistakes. Because you decided that you would save yourself a few hundred dollars by doing yourself online. And now you have created tens of thousands of dollars of problems for years errors it's exactly what you wanna avoid. You know this is the type of problem I always tell people if you only have a attend our life thing go ahead and get yourself a ten dollar state plan. But I think most people. Think that their lives have real value and certainly the people that are important in their lives and their loved ones. They have real value so why would you want to set up your loved ones. For that type of heart ache when you can do nothing about it because you are now gone. Well I'm sure that's very good advice I hope people heat we are talking to attorney Jeffrey focal today and and judged different vocal. And we are discussing. People's wills and estates and how they should go about. Taking care of this an important part of their life and to start with. I said a lot of people feel like oh I'm so young Knight I'm never gonna die I haven't the core I don't have any money anyway added him to stay in UA. But everyone should have the will. I think that you can say why but there are certain reasons why everyone should have a will no matter what age they are no matter what their assets are. That's exactly right you know nobody knows when. The palace control for them for starters and you know actuarial leave it makes sense when you're younger you don't think about these types of things. And more of my clients do tend to be older individuals. Most of my clients fall into the category of having three to four wheels in their lifetime. Usually don't get the client that has a will when they first become married. That's usually a bright. Time in their life when they say wow now I am really an adult I really have to buckle down into mature adult like things are better getting a state plan. Then they might update that plan when they become parents if they become parents now. There's someone else in their life that they ultimately have to be responsible for and take care of then I see people doing yet a third wheel in their lifetime. When they become older and grandparents and maybe want to create trusts her educational benefactors. For their. Grandchildren in the future. And then finally there can be a last will for people that are really looking at the elder loss strategies of becoming Medicaid qualified. War of creating trust to go on for multiple generations. Or if they are looking to blow. Take care of a second spouse or surviving spouse that's one of the other really huge areas that I'm finding in my state planning is that. We don't have nuclear families like we used to back in their forties and fifties now we have families that. Are out of their second or third marriage or perhaps never married and have created offspring her children. At different stages in their life with different partners L give your great simple example. I get clients who come in in my office all the time six years old. I'd like to leave everything to my spouse and if my spouse doesn't survive and survive me then to my children. That sounds terribly simple what could you possibly need a lawyer for. Well I question them and I say. Is this your first wife. And I'll say no this is my second life say OK fine so when we leave everything to your wife and if we presume that she survives you. What will happen when she dies. We'll everything will go to her children. And then you'd just just inherited. Your children the husband has accidentally. Just inherited his own children. And a lot of times just that simple example gets their minds thinking that wow. How would do why make sure. But I pass something onto my children I feel a duty to my second spouse a loved him dearly had been with them for the last thirty years. But I likewise. Love my children and I want to at least something to them. So that terribly normal natural bequest of leaving something to your spouse and then your children. Can be complicated by the modern times and society that we live and and that was a simple example so many of my clients come in and they don't have a simple like they may have a child from a previous relationship. And then a child by her first marriage and then even children from a second or subsequent marriage so. That's just one. Very bright line example of how complicated estate planning can become from a very simple normal type of life pattern that we seem society today. You know when I hate you hear about this on TV radio or books or something. In our whole life you always hear the term last will and testament districts like in the movies I guess. But when listening to you I'm thinking peeling them realize that. Dearest dearest more than when they can do more than one will I think people think oh less well you make one will that fit at doesn't necessarily hold true. You're very very true and you know. Being in a perfect world when you sign a last will and testament to your previous wills are destroyed. But a lot of times they're not particularly if you know you've not taken those precautions. Additionally. We've kept people who are improperly signing their last wealth because they. And they've gone in improperly acts acute that it. And now we've got the problem of same bogus document that you fought would be your last will and testament looks like it. Acts like it but it doesn't comply with the statutory requirements in their fork it is. Terminated or it's deemed invalid. It's not eligible for probate. In the Arizona host of reasons why wills ultimately. Fail. And are not able to be appropriated one is improper signing or what we call XQ shuttle was improperly XQ did. Another one was improperly witnessed. Another one is that it can't contains confusing or contradictory clauses. One of my favorites is that I give people all the time coming in in my office here is my father's last will and testament to what they hand me. It's a copy. And every say well where's the original law I don't know. I think we can't probate a copy of a well. So even things as simple as the location of the whale. You know it seems very very basic and fundamental to me but there're so many people out there that are under a misunderstanding. That. No photocopies. Faxes. Emails electronic transmit. Sure he's alone bring in their telephone and show and show it to you I'm not yet found a cell phone and say yeah here's my oil or fizzle out exactly you know so many people have gotten into electronic communications. As soon as the sole way of handling their life affairs in arming the bank online to do everything online. But will still requires an original signature. That's the document and that's the only document that can be offered to the Circuit Court. To be administered or probing did so without debt. You know you may as well out of don't know well and it's priced me how few people. You know how to safeguard that original document and protected to ensure that it does in fact get appropriated and that their wills and that their wishes to carried out. In the and I can't emphasize enough it's so important because. You loved the people that are in the document you want to do something good for them and too many people too many clients that I've encountered. Are. Leading bad memories. And heartache and troubles. And that's exactly the opposite of what they intended to do. There's a couple of things that you touched on that can happen in one is the person doesn't make have a will. What happens is. To whatever assets they have the state or some government or somebody is going to decide what happens to it knocked you right. Yes there is absolutely correct people that pass away without a will New York State is good enough under the senate and the legislature. Two of written one for you. They've written one for everybody and that may not be what you want. And where you want your things to go. In rates in that's one of the things that I find so interest in a lot of people say well I really don't have that much. And when I described them where they're assets will go in the event that they don't bother with the will and Nelson well I don't want it to go there and I'm like well. That's what the law says. In but you don't have to take what the law says you can easily do your own thing. The laws providing safeguard. And it's a logical safeguard we can certainly talk about and on another occasion of how the legislature. Came up with those ideas but. The reality is that you can interestingly the person wants hurting me and very easily avoided it what you want yeah. So I've I'm just trying so many of my clients now that are coming in. Who wish to also we don't contest a will. You know and and that's one of the other burgeoning areas of law because these wills are being done improperly. Either by attorneys who are not. Practicing in the area of the states or because it's wills by people were getting information. How liner to reading it during a themselves. And then there is a very unfair outcome as a result of this. Flawed document. And they're coming to mean saint can make challenged this well. Can I challenged the person who's nominated is the exact you terror. You know what can I do after the fact and the answer is yes there are definitely. Procedures and mechanisms in place and that is a huge portion. Of my law practice that I deal with on a daily basis. Is helping people. To contest those unfair. Outcomes or those unintended. Outcomes. That were the result of poor or a lack of a state planning. We'll also hear very often about people contesting the will it in this this is maybe more like television programs or. Books that people have read where they feel that's not fair I should I was there I was the favorite son. I deal list and another I should be getting a house or are and my sister influenced her unfairly. Boyer or their a spouse using I I Tennessee and YE. He would leave some money to so so be cool is he hated so and so what they didn't get along or that kind of thing. So that I don't know effective real life for plants we see will and what I see a television they murdered each other but other than that anything. Big to do probably have legal legal ways different to protest. But without a doubt I mean Tom. You so much of my practice as I said it has really gotten to the area of contesting and protecting wills from being contested. And you're right typically the client will come into me in the you'll save this is an unfair result I am being. Treated unfairly I am being excluded I'm being just inherited. And this was not what my age you know. Decedent father mother whomever intended that was not what they intended in the you'll explain to me. What they think the error is. Of how this bad result came about and that's my job to look at the documents and see if there is a legal basis. To infect challenged the will you know did the test cater half capacity. Did they have the mental ability to properly signed an ex keep the contract. Now and that country but the will so many people now are you know suffering from alzheimer's and dementia. And other debilitating mental diseases. And I will get to clients who will come to me and say I know dad signed that will eight years ago but. Twelve years ago when we were at the family reunion dead couldn't even identify the people in his own family or in his picture. You know and they will tell me about a diagnosis. But a lot of times things have not been properly diagnosed and they've come to me with this very sad and compelling story is no proof at times to. Well that is my job is to find that proof. And to help provide them with an objective basis in the court to find objective facts that in fact this was not. Of true last will and testament because the person didn't have that capacity in order to sign a make and knowing and intelligent decision. And producing those facts are producing their proof. He's extremely challenging but it's something that I've been specializing in now for years and can't be done yes. Again an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of relief. Have the proper safeguards being taken in the first place a lot of that this can be avoided. Yeah we are talking today and on target. With attorney Jeffrey Vogel and he is a partner in rapture and vocal C law firm in Western New York in Williams bill. And he is discussing one of his specialties with us today which is what he's calling a we're calling state planning but. Which ordinary people who are listening would call like wills and trusts in what happens when you died in what happens to property and that's kind of launch together in this fancy estate planning type category right. Exactly and readiness to hokey you know one of the most interesting things too little too is that these types of a state plans are not. Is something that is only happens to a certain group of people are certain type of test later if you come to my office you'll see that I have a wall of the rich and famous and their state planning mistakes. You'd be amazed from. One of the Supreme Court justices burger down to Michael Jackson to Leona Helmsley. To Babe Ruth you cannot imagine the type of estate planning mistakes. The people have made who did he have. Well intentioned incompetent advice from competent attorneys do it themselves anymore in and lying now or even worse they don't do anything at all I mean you know senators' Sonny Bono had no estate plan when he died. A more recent example. Prince everybody probably remembers and nose prints were still looking for his well now how can a person who surrounded by. Legal teams of lawyers on a daily basis. Not have gone and taken safeguards and now we've got all of these. Children were coming out of the woodwork for saying I it was an error. You know it's a good eye of the beneficiaries. That nobody knew that including prince. If yes yes aren't sure that there is more than prince whatever I admit her own up to. But you know these are the types of mistakes that are not something that is a result of someone who thinks. I don't have been a state worth having Wilfork or I don't have the money to properly prepare for. You know we're dying improperly preparing in a state plan. These are mistakes and errors that are made by the rich and famous as well as a person with the most modest estate but the reality is that doesn't have to be that way. You can get really good competent advice it does not have to cost an arm and a leg and I can assure you that. If you don't. After the fact trying to unscramble that egg. And undo those mistakes is far more challenging farmer expensive and the worst of all. You're not around to assist and make things right any longer because you've passed. And you mentioned before the word exactly there. But. I'm anxious you know Melissa is known that means but still if you have the right planning in new. Go to an attorney and make it will assert certain way you can decide. Why your life who is going to take care of matters for UF and you know after you die that otherwise as he says that. The state for. The court will do it. That's exactly right you know you can nominate senior or will. Who you want to be the CEO of your life you know I mean think about how complicated the average person's life is. Truly. You know we all have bills to pay we all have assets and things that we own we all have intangible things like bank accounts. And when you're gone if that's not properly organized. Someone's gonna have to organize that for you. If you have a willing you've nominated in exact order to do that job. I hope that you nominated the right person so many people are coming in my office. Will nominate the wrong person out of a sense of duty or obligation. I mean I can't tell you how many in my clients say well I'm gonna nominate so and sort of be my executive because that's my oldest child. And I'll ask them what is that the best choice. Well no probably not but you're the oldest. You know or while nominate multiple people to be the I've got two children around laminate both of them to be the exact year because I don't want there to be any hard feelings. And also were how they get along. Well they hate each other tough it is to popular multi are really gonna work yeah you're exactly right I mean that is not going to work well at all. So. You know to me it and I often will joke with my clients when they command and will do the estate planning and I wholesalers and I'm gonna. Ask you some questions. And we're going to have a dialogue and at some points this is gonna start to feel like a marriage encounter. Because I'm really asking a lot of thought provoking questions to get people going in a direction that perhaps there. They weren't anticipating or maybe even a little bit uncomfortable but. Now's the time to. Answered these hard questions now's the time to address and make these hard decisions. Because if you don't you're going to be leaving a path for her take after the fact. In and really estate planning in its most fundamental basic essence. Is is really a gift of love what you're trying to do is you're trying to not only pass on your wealth. To your loved ones in the next generation or whomever you choose. You're trying to do it in an efficient way that won't cost them heartache but it's your best chance to maintain those family ties that are important to you. If you. Set up in a state where it creates strife among your children. Believe me they will fight. It's amazing to me how sibling rivalry. Doesn't stop. When the meat Turk in the picture are gone it continues. On. And estate planning it's done effectively is one of the best ways the best chances. To preserve that family harmony. Even the best families that get along really well. With a poorly done a state plan there can create a lot of situations where there are. Hurt feelings questions animosity. Don'ts. And you can avoid that. In another thing is and if if there are children involved and depending on the age you might want to decide in in your will. Or leave for information about who should be take care to children who should be the guardian for the children. And if you don't happening you will who knows what's gonna have to. Exactly you know before my young parents out there were contemplating estate planning. I was talk about well who could be mom and dad if you were gone. Who would you tell us about that but it it's you know two tragedies can happen to be tragedies can end in my practice unfortunately all too often I've seen. Those horrible horrible situations of young parents who now. Are no longer there in have to have hopefully made a plan for who's gonna make sure that their child gets her hand down on the pillow you couldn't get stuttering he's. Tennessee and you can just see the times when some nieces my sister and my sister my mother my father I know you'll be as intolerable no mind. Now that would be the worst parent there is right right and then there is strategy has like when they brought up their own children now app I children. Well concede I mean let's face it no one's gonna cut to cross off their two kids spread quite the way that you know you do. You know any input there is real realities that you wanted to do and making an informed decision and I have a series of questions call coltart trying to guess people to death. So much to the entire. Area that would talking about estate planning and people as I'm sure they realize it to listening to. Today misspoke but we realize that it's something. He really can't do yourself and there's a lot to it and you do need. Professional advice and we thank you for sharing so much information with us. Thank you also listening to on target we hope you've enjoyed our conversation please join us again next week same time same place have a good week everybody. See you next week. You've been listening to one target with Kenny Wolfgang. A program that takes an inside look at Western New York in our community. Do you have any comments or suggestions. Please rate depending Wolfgang it's 500 corporate parkway suite 200 Amherst New York. 114 to six.