How financial trends  could affect estate planning

We live in a dynamic world where trends are bound to rise and fall. When we talk about financial trends, people envision the stock market or perhaps their investment portfolio. For estate planning attorneys, the goal is always to maximize assets that are passed on to their heirs. If you’re curious to learn about these emerging financial trends, by all means, read on.

1. Federal estate and gift tax exemption

Most people are wondering if there will be a change to the federal estate and gift tax exemption in 2021, and it all depends on the administration of the new government. However, it seems a couple of other things are taking the spotlight, like beating the pandemic, tackling unemployment and economic recovery. We’re hopeful and will keep monitoring for any development. But an ideal change could potentially be deferred until 2022.

2. A change to the Connecticut estate tax exemption

One of the impacts of COVID-19 was crippling the economy, and it is uncertain when the economy might pick up again. However, many are afraid that this might lead to tax revenue being raised. Many expect Connecticut to dip its hands into a "rainy day" fund to offset some deficits incurred by the pandemic. 

According to a recent report by the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, they are likely to consider some proposals that could replace the revenue lost, and one of these proposals could include postponing or the reversal of tax policy. For the moment, there is no recorded change yet.

3. Low-interest rate to continue in 2021?

Another financial trend that could affect estate planning is the ongoing low interest rate. Some economists are speculating inflationary pressure. However, there is no empirical proof that shows that the interest rate will rise in 2021. It presents estate planning opportunities to taxpayers, and this trend is most likely to proceed till 2022.

4. Emphasis on state estate law planning

To families who have their properties in several states, federal estate planning will no longer be an option. It is because state estate and inheritance taxes are now entering the spotlight. In some states in the US, the exemption is as slow as $1 million, while state estate rates are over 16%. If you think about it, a $10 million estate will pay no dime to any federal estate taxes, but pay over $1.44 million to state estate taxes.

Wrapping Up!

Every year, trends are what we look for to better prepare for the inevitable. If you’re yet to update your estate plan, you should hire an experienced attorney. They will help you consider the current trend and analyze opportunities that you can leverage. If that sounds good, take a minute to give us a call 718-667-1301 or fill the contact form.

You never want to think about a tenant dying in your building. However, knowing how to handle the disposition of housing of the deceased can make things easier for you and your tenant’s family during this challenging time. It can also save you any confusion when it comes to legal matters.

Are You Responsible for Housing Disposition?

As a landlord, you have an agreement with your tenants that covers your responsibilities and theirs. That lease should include any action taken in the event of their death.

Unless the deceased has an executor or administrator of their estate, no one can legally claim or dispose of their personal items. Therefore, the responsibility can fall to you as the landlord.

Eventually, you must either terminate the deceased tenant’s lease or let it expire. Without an estate administrator or executor, no one can take possession of the apartment.

When Can You Terminate the Lease?

After three months, you, as the landlord, can take measures to evict the deceased tenant. You must serve the notice of eviction to one of the following people as they are related to the tenant, in this order and as available:

As of September 2019, lawmakers introduced Senate Bill S6714. While this bill is still in committee, it would allow executors and administrators to terminate the lease if passed.

Sometimes, the tenant will not have any surviving relatives, or even a will stating who should take possession of their home after they die. At this point, the Public Administrator can help you determine the best course of action.

What Are Your Options When a Tenant Dies?

When a tenant dies, you may need the help of an experienced Staten Island real estate lawyer. At DDC Law, our attorneys know how to navigate cases involving deceased tenants with compassion. Call us today at 718-667-1301 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

Illegal Acts and Evictions in New York State
Whether a tenant is not paying rent or violating their lease, there are certain guidelines landlords must adhere to when evicting them in New York State.

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way landlords must respond to tenants who might, under other circumstances, be evicted. Now, it is especially important to ensure that landlords do not commit illegal acts when it comes to evictions in New York State.

When is Eviction Illegal in New York State?
Under normal circumstances, landlords cannot evict tenants without valid reason. There are certain situations where you may have a defense against your landlord if they serve you an eviction notice.

Self-help actions, like turning off utilities or changing the locks
Failing to give proper notice for an eviction
Tenant has paid rent when the landlord claims they have not
Tenant refused to pay rent because the landlord did not maintain the unit
Landlord fails to give the tenant ten days’ notice to fix lease violations
Landlord evicts the tenant based on discrimination

How Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Eviction Laws?
While the COVID-19 pandemic is happening, landlords should not be evicting tenants. According to Governor Cuomo’s executive order, the courts cannot begin cases that would lead to landlords serving eviction notices.

While landlords may still be able to raise your rent, they must give you notice if they plan to raise it more than 5 percent.

Landlords and tenants should come to an agreement if their lease is expiring, too. While this would normally be the best time to leave your apartment if you were thinking about it, moving right now may put you at risk for coronavirus exposure. It might be best to negotiate a month-to-month lease, leaving you open to moving once the pandemic is successfully contained.

What Can You Do if You are Illegally Evicted?
If you believe your landlord has committed an illegal act or eviction in New York State, contact us at DDC Law. Our experienced Staten Island attorneys can help you navigate your case and give you all the information you need about eviction laws. Call us at 718-667-1301 or contact us online for a consultation.

Unlivable Conditions in New York Coops

When you pay rent on your apartment, you have a right to livable conditions in your home, and coops are no exception. Whether the ceiling falls in your kitchen, there’s mold throughout the house, or you have excessive water damage or flooding, you need to know your rights when it comes to unlivable conditions in New York coops.

Cooperative Corporation vs. Individual Owner

When you live in a coop apartment, things work differently than if you were renting from a landlord. In a coop situation, you own a share of the building you live in through a cooperative corporation.

You still don’t own your apartment, which makes the corporation something like a landlord, but with some discrepancies. You’re responsible for certain fees, which can include property taxes and maintenance fees, among other bills. What does that mean for the condition of your apartment?

Because the cooperative corporation is still the owner of the building—not you as the person who owns the shares—they are still responsible for its condition. You can find more details in the proprietary lease regarding who deals with what problems, but the cooperative corporation has a responsibility to keep living spaces livable.

Does the Warranty of Habitability Apply to Coops?

Yes. The Warranty of Habitability is a law that pertains to leased living spaces, like apartments and condos. It states that any leased living space must be fit for human habitation and stay that way as long as someone resides in it.

There are no exceptions for coops in New York, which means that if your apartment becomes unlivable, the cooperative corporation is breaking the Warranty of Habitability law. If you have already notified the corporation of any damages and they have failed to fix them, you need the help of an attorney.

DDC Law Gets You Justice

If your coop apartment has become unlivable, DDC Law Firm can help you file a claim against your cooperative corporation. Call us at 718-667-1301 or contact us online for a consultation.

Sales of Property and Status of Tenants in New York State

It’s a seller’s market here in New York. But for a landlord looking to unload a property, a problem

tenant can get in the way of a successful sale.

It’s important to know the steps to take, and the laws surrounding what you can (and can’t) do to get

tenacious tenants to leave.


How Much Notice Do You Have to Give Tenants?

With a fixed-term lease, unless you have a reason for asking your tenant to leave, you must wait until the

lease expires.

However, with month-to-month tenants, you must follow these timelines when giving notice:

How Do You Get Tenants to Leave the Property?

You must give tenants sufficient notice, per the guidelines above, before you expect them to move out. Landlords cannot force their tenants to leave the property, and if you plan to terminate your tenant’s lease early, you must have a reason for it.

If your tenant fails to leave the premises, then you can file an eviction lawsuit, and a sheriff will remove

your tenant.

Are There Rules to Showing a Home While Tenants Live There?

When showing a home while the tenant still lives there, you can’t knock on their door at the last minute

and demand to enter the space.

You must make sure you show the home at a reasonable time of day. You must also give at least 24

hours’ notice, so the tenant has time to make arrangements to leave the property.

How Can DDC Law Work with You?

DDC Law Firm has 60 years of experience with laws regarding sales of property and status of tenants in New York State. Our Staten Island real estate attorneys can help you understand your rights as a landlord.

Call us today at (718) 667-1301 or contact us online to request a consultation.


Commercial Properties and Local Regulations: What Are Your Rights?

Do you lease commercial property in Staten Island?If you’reatenant or landlord of commercial property, you may be wondering about your rights and how local regulations can affect the way you do business.

You may need assistance from experienced Staten Island attorneys like the experts at DiVernieri, DiVernieri & Cotter, LLP. But this article will answer some of the most common questions about commercial properties and local regulations in Staten Island

Where can I build commercial property?

Staten Island is divided into residential and commercial zones createdto benefit residents and businesses, alike. Depending on the type of building you own, local regulations may dictate the distance from the street, the amount of parking available, and the signage you can place in front of your location.

By dictating where certain types of commercial properties can be built, these laws are designed to help:

What details about the property must a landlord disclose to tenants? 

Staten Island landlords are required to disclose zoning regulations that may affect prospective tenants. They must also disclose information about the condition of the building, which may affect tenant use. The landlord must disclose details about compliance with accessibility laws and also local ordinances that may govern energy use in the building

Do I need a contract to lease my commercial property?

If you’re a commercial landlord in Staten Island, it’s important to have a contract that outlines your tenants’ rights and responsibilities. Eviction in New York State is an expensive and arduous process due to landlord laws that favor tenants. A contract can help ensure every party involved is clear about their duties and obligations

Need Help with Commercial Property Contracts?

DDC Law Firm is made up of experts in Staten Island real estate law who can help ensure your commercial property meets all zoning requirements. We can help you with real estate contracts to protect your best interests as a Staten Island landlord or business tenant

PMI is required on conventional loans if the loan to value ratio is greater than 80%. MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium) is required on all FHA loans.

What Is Mortgage Insurance?
If you’re making a down payment of less than 20% on a home, it’s important to understand what mortgage insurance is and how it works. Private mortgage insurance (PMI) isn’t just for people who can’t afford a 20% down payment. It’s also for people who don’t want to put down 20%, so they have more cash on hand for repairs, remodeling, furnishings, and emergencies.

What Is PMI?

If the concept of buying insurance on your mortgage sounds a little odd, you're probably a newcomer to buying property or never put down a small down payment. Most lenders require PMI when a home buyer makes a down payment of less than 20% of the home's purchase price – or, in mortgage-speak, the mortgage's loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is in excess of 80% (the higher the LTV ratio, the higher the risk profile of the mortgage). And unlike most types of insurance, the policy protects the lender's investment in the home, not yours. On the other hand, PMI makes it possible for people to become homeowners sooner.

PMI allows borrowers to obtain financing if they can only afford (or prefer) to put down just 5% to 19.99% of the residence's cost, but it comes with additional monthly costs. Borrowers pay their PMI until they have accumulated enough equity in the home that the lender no longer considers them high-risk.

PMI costs can range from 0.25% to 2% (but typically run about 0.25 to 1%) of your loan balance per year, depending on the size of the down payment and mortgage, the loan term and your credit score. The greater your risk factors, the higher the rate you pay. Also, because PMI is a percentage of the loan amount, the more you borrow, the more PMI you’ll pay.

How Long Do You Carry PMI?

On a conventional loan, the borrower can request that monthly mortgage insurance payments be eliminated once the loan-to-value ratio drops below 80%. Once the mortgage's LTV ratio drops to 78% – meaning your down payment, plus the loan principal you’ve paid off, equals 22% of the home’s purchase price – the lender must automatically cancel PMI as required by the federal Homeowners Protection Act, even if your home’s market value has gone down (as long as you’re current on your mortgage).

For an FHA loans greater than 90% LTV MIP stays on for the life of the loan, If less than 90% LTV MIPis required for the first 11 years.


Mortgage insurance costs borrowers money, but it enables them to become homeowners sooner by reducing the risk to financial institutions of issuing mortgages to people with small down payments. You might find it worthwhile to pay mortgage insurance premiums if you want to own a home sooner rather than later for lifestyle or affordability reasons. Adding to the reasons for doing this: Premiums can be canceled once your home equity reaches 80% if you’re paying monthly PMI or split-premium mortgage insurance.

Call New Dwelling Mortgage to further discuss if a loan with PMI is right for you!


The state of New York established legal protections for same sex couples in 2011 with the passing of the Marriage Equality Act, before the 2015 nationwide legalizing of same sex marriage. Even in the face of this record of support, it is still important for you and your partner to establish your wishes in regard to your estate, and to have documents in place outlining what should be done if one of you requires intensive medical or end-of-life care. Legal documents can be particularly valuable for couples who are not legally married, as their relationships can be more vulnerable to family challenges.

An Estate Plan Can Help You Avoid Frustrating Legal Challenges

Creating an estate plan is important for any unmarried couple, but same sex couples can be more vulnerable to outside challenges without formal documents in place. Even married couples can have some understandable concerns that about their susceptibility to legal disputes over assets. By creating a will, you make your desires concerning matters of assets, custody, and other vital concerns clear to everyone.

Without documents in place, the state can begin an automatic distribution of your assets, and it is important to remember that the rules regarding who receives what were put in place before same sex unions gained legal recognition. This can make claims from your partner harder to honor, especially if you are not married.

Establishing Health Care Directives and Power of Attorney

While your will dictates who should receive the different assets you leave behind, documents like health care directives and power of attorney protect you in situations where you might be unable to act in your own interest. Health care directives will specify what you want in a circumstance where you need intensive medical or end-of-life care. As part of your wishes, you can specify what your partner's role should be in making decisions, and their level of access to you. Giving your partner power of attorney establishes that they can act in your interest if there are legal matters you are unable to address. Documents like health care directives and power of attorney can protect you if there is a dispute over your estate before you have passed, or if attempts are made to challenge your partner's place at your side should you be hospitalized and unable to express yourself.

Creating a Final Arrangements Document

If you and your partner have ideas for your final arrangement that clash with what your family members might want, conflict can ensue. Your final arrangements document establishes your wishes for whether you want to be buried or cremated; what type of ceremony you desire; what you want for a burial marker; and who should address the costs associated with these arrangements. While this document may not be considered legally binding, it establishes your wishes clearly, and can put a mercifully quick end to any interference of your final resting plans.


The public assistance available to a person with ongoing medical needs, or an individual who struggles with intellectual disabilities, can be vital to their well-being. However, your concern over a loved one's eligibility for funds can interfere with your desires to help them financially. A Special Needs Trust can be set up to provide meaningful financial support while not interfering with public assistance. This trust can be established on someone's behalf, but it is also possible for you to create a trust for yourself. With that said, if you want to set up your own trust, it must be managed by another party. If someone has control over the distribution of their trust, it can interfere with their claim for public assistance.

A Special Needs Trust Can Help the Beneficiary (Without Interfering With Public Assistance)

The goal in setting up a Special Needs Trust is to supply income to a person receiving public assistance, without damaging their claim to assistance. The trust typically covers expenses that help improve a person's quality of life in multiple ways. It is not meant to address the sort of costs that might be addressed through Medicaid, Medicare, or another public assistance fund. It can be used for medical costs that are not being covered by these funds, and it can also make it easier for someone to enjoy leisure and cultural activities that improve their daily life.

What Can a Special Needs Trust Provide?

A Special Needs Trust is meant to make a person's life better by providing financial support that does not intrude on assistance. You could consider these funds a way to cover the cost of luxury items, or a way to pay for support that public benefits normally refuse to provide.

When it comes to paying for food and housing, a Special Needs Trust can affect some of what a person earns from government assistance. In fact, you may discover that this loss is relatively minor compared to the amount of support your Special Needs Trust is able to give. An attorney with experience establishing these trusts can help you navigate the potential costs and consequences of providing support for dining out, or for rent.

Establishing a Trustee for a Special Needs Trust

A Special Needs Trust can be flexible with respect to what it covers, but it needs to be clear that the beneficiary is NOT in control of their trust. Even if the beneficiary is the person creating the Special Needs Trust, a trustee must be responsible for distribution of funds. If a beneficiary (or a person acting on their behalf) is able to amend the distribution of funds, or if they receive direct cash, their eligibility for public assistance will be compromised.

Putting a Lump Sum Award into a Special Needs Trust

A lump sum award can help improve your life significantly after an injury, but it can also interfere with your public benefits. Turning this sum into a Special Needs Trust can allow you to keep it, and preserve access to assistance. A legal expert can help you navigate this situation so that your award provides help to you over the years while you also collect your benefits.

Have you thought about how your credit card debt might affect your loved ones after you are gone? Outstanding debts owed by the deceased can often be attached to an estate or trust if a creditor chooses to file a lawsuit against a decedent. A court judgment could drain the inheritance you leave your spouse or children if such a suit is filed in court. You can plan ahead for such eventualities, however, by retaining a real estate attorney and taking precautionary legal measures.

Creditor Agreements

Obligation to assume your credit card debt could fall on a surviving spouse or other loved one if they are a signatory on the creditor agreement. Being a signatory means they have already legally agreed to be held liable for your credit card debt once you have passed away. If your spouse, adult child, or other co-signing family member has ever been participatory as a signatory in a credit agreement under your name, they would have the obligation to pay off any outstanding debts owed on the account after your death. This is most common with credit card account that are joint, when both users sign that they are responsible for debt accrued. However, a merely “authorized user” of your credit card account may not necessarily be liable for paying off the balance, as long as they immediately cease use of the card after your passing. Making sure all creditor agreements have only your name on them as a signatory and that authorized users are informed of their rights and responsibilities regarding use of your account can help keep credit card debt from surviving you.

Most Common Probate Court Triggers  

Since federal law allows for debts to be recovered from your estate under certain conditions, avoiding probate liquidation of assets is a priority. The top reason for an estate or trust to be reviewed by the probate court is for purposes of debt collection. Credit card debt can trigger a probate review if the above advice about signatories and discontinuation of charges after your death are not followed. If your will goes into probate, any qualifying property, savings accounts, or other easily liquidated financial assets that can attached to pay off your creditors. This can substantially reduce the inheritance you are trying to leave to your loved ones.

Protecting your Estate against Credit Card Debt

There are legal protections that your attorney can use to help you shield your assets so your wishes regarding your estate are carried out after your death. Third-party debt collectors can be blocked form gaining access to financial information regarding your estate or trust, and key estate assets such as managed retirement or benefit plans can be excluded from potential attachment of assets to pay of a decedent’s creditors. In addition, New York law exempts most trusts from enforcement of money judgements. If you want to help safeguard your loved ones’ inheritance, you may wish to speak to a qualified Staten Island estate planning attorney about setting up a trust and protecting your assets.

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