October 2013 Archives

Chair's Message

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Chair's Message

Welcome to the October edition of Electronically-In-Touch. Our 75thanniversary year is flying by, but we still have a ton of exciting events and programs coming up. For those of you that were not able to join us, we went to see the Syracuse homecoming football game against Clemson. It was a very fun event that allowed networking opportunities outside of a formal professional setting. This past Saturday, we had a wine tasting event throughout the North Fork of Long Island. The event provided another great opportunity to mingle with peers and colleagues in different (and perhaps the same) areas of practice.

We will soon have our CLE plans finalized for both our half-day CLE program, which will take place on January 29, 2014, and our two-day Bridging-the-Gap program, which will take place on January 30 and 31, 2014. Both programs are part of NYSBA's Annual Meeting, which will be held at the New York Hilton. The half day CLE program will focus on bankruptcy issues and the two day Bridging-the-Gap program will focus on a variety of substantive legal topics, including but not limited to intellectual property, personal injury, appeals, estate planning, environmental law, land use/zoning, criminal law, family law, ethics and much more. It is a great opportunity to get a substantial amount of your CLE requirements complete.

As I mentioned last month, we are still accepting nominations for the 2014 Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. The deadline is November 8th, so if you believe you or a colleague are qualified to receive the award, please submit a nomination before then. You can find further details and the application at the following website: http://www.nysba.org/oyl/.

We look forward to seeing everyone in January!

Lisa R. Schoenfeld, Esq.
Section Chair
Schlissel Ostrow Karabatos, PLLC

10th District Fall Winery Tour

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The 10th District had a wonderful tour of 3 Long Island wineries on October 27th. Below are photos from this great event.
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YLS Mentoring Program

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We began our third year of the YLS's mentoring program at Cardozo Law School on October 21, with a great panel of speakers: Anne Nicholson, Chair and Founder of the YLS Mentoring Program, Paul Sarkozi, Chair-Elect of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section, Douglas Tabachnik, Chair of the Committee on Bankruptcy Litigation for the Commercial And Federal Litigation Section, and Dana Syracuse, Co-Chair of the Mentoring Committee for the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. The panel was organized and moderated by Erica Weisgerber, the Young Lawyers Section liaison to the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. Through the last two years, over 40 members of the Young Lawyers Section have been mentoring a group of Cardozo Law students. We are always looking for additional mentors for our program, and you do not need to be an alumnus of Cardozo to participate. If you are interested, please contact Anne Nicholson at anicholson@fzwz.com.

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Upcoming Events

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The Young Lawyers Section is Proud to Co-Sponsor
Starting Your Own Practice in New York
Basic Business Skills for Lawyers Starting and Running a Practice in New York

Date: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
7.5 MCLE Credits
Location: The New Yorker Hotel, 481 Eighth Avenue @ 34th Street, New York, NY 10001

Click Here to Register

Co-sponsored by New York State Bar Association:
Law Practice Management Committee
Committee on Continuing Legal Education
Lawyer Assistance Program
Business Law Section
Commercial and Federal Litigation Section
Criminal Justice Section
Dispute Resolution Section
Elder Law Section
General Practice Section
Municipal Law Section
Real Property Law Section
Senior Lawyers Section
Trusts and Estates Law Section
Young Lawyers Section


Did you know that studies show nearly 75% of all lawyers work in private practice? Of that number, over 74% work in firms of twenty or fewer attorneys. Small firms are therefore the largest employer of attorneys.
Where do you research them? But how do you reach them? And what are they looking for in candidates?
Our panelists will discuss the art of marketing yourself to small firms and making the most your search for positions with this large and diverse pool of potential employers.

Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Time: 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Address: Albany Law School, Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom, Albany, NY
NYSBA Members: In Person - No Charge, Webcast - No Charge
Non Members: In Person - $25, Webcast - No Charge
Click Here to Register

Business Law Section Liaison Update

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The most recent meeting of the Business Law Section was held at the Cranwell Resort in Lenox, Massachusetts on October 3-5, 2013.

As in previous years, the Section offered scholarships to lawyers who had been admitted less than five years. A robust selection of CLEs was offered, ranging from a Digital and Cyber Liability Ethics to Creditors Attorney's fees and Valuations

The Section in their survey of the membership has found that people may not fully understand the depth and breadth of the section. The Business Law Section has active committees on banking, bankruptcy, corporations, derivatives and structured products, franchise, insurance, public utility, securities and technology and venture law. This breadth is a large portion of the value of joining our section. For those who are just beginning their foray into the practice of law, the interaction with seasoned practitioners is invaluable. We have been active in legislative initiatives, including the recent changes to New York's Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, and are currently working on proposed changes to New York Franchise Law.

In March, we are planning on a symposium on "The Life Cycle of a High-Tech Company" to be held in cooperation with Albany Law School. It should be an exciting program with an emphasis on being accessible to not only students, but also to lawyers in the field.

If anyone has any questions about the section or its committees and programs, please contact Sarah Gold, the chair of Membership for the section, at sg@goldlawny.com or 518-213-2345.

Criminal Justice Section Liaison Update

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The Criminal Justice Section just held its fall meeting and Forensics Conference at NYU's School of Law. We had over 150 people in attendance to listen to the latest developments in fingerprinting, laboratory protocols, neuro-science, and wrongful convictions. The meeting also included a networking reception on Friday evening.

The Section is currently restructuring its committees and will be bringing back some committees such as the Vehicle and Traffic Committee and the Legislative Committee. Please reach out if you are interested on being on a committee.

The Section is still hard at work getting sealing legislation passed. Currently there are identical bills in the State Senate and Assembly (S5385 and A4026), known as the Second Chance for Ex-Offenders Act, which would permit for the sealing of some non-violent misdemeanors. This legislation would allow for these low level ex-offenders to return to being productive members of society by removing the permanent punishment of criminal conviction.

If you would like more information about the Criminal Justice Section or have any questions about its committees and programs, please feel free to contact Erin Flynn (Erin.K.Flynn@gmail.com) or Simone Archer (simone@archerharveylaw.com).

Criminal Justice Section Liaisons
Erin Flynn and Simone Archer

Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Update

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The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section will be holding a day-long CLE titled Federal Civil Practice: A Primer in November and December at locations in all four federal districts of New York. This course will focus on practice and procedure in federal district courts and is designed to familiarize attorneys with best practices for litigating civil matters in federal court. Experienced federal court practitioners and a number of judges will offer helpful, practical tips and guidance on handling all aspects of a civil case in federal court. The program is designed to provide practical "nuts-and-bolts" information and places particular emphasis on discovery, including discussion of the most recent developments concerning discovery of electronically stored information. The faculty will highlight many of the differences between civil practice in state court and in federal district court. The course is also a useful review for more experienced practitioners who may want to brush up on their knowledge. The program will be offered at the following times/locations:

Wednesday, November 13: Long Island (Melville, NY)
Thursday, November 14: Albany (Latham, NY)
December 4: Rochester
December 5: New York City

For additional details about this program, or about joining the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section, please contact Erica Weisgerber at eweisgerber@debevoise.com .

Wills and Trusts

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Drafting Wills and Trusts for Beneficiaries with Special Needs
By: Roman Aminov

Michael and Joan came in to my office to re-draft estate planning documents that they had prepared over a decade ago. Their wills, like those of many married couples, left everything to each other. If one of them passed away first, the wills had mirroring provisions, which left 10% of the estate to Joan's brother, Tom, with the remainder, 90%, split evenly between their three children. From the face of it, their wills looked alright, but their accountant advised them to see me about updating their plans. We were all glad that he did, since much had changed since they had their estate plan prepared. Joan's brother's medical situation worsened and he was receiving Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI. Additionally, their third child, David, who was only 6 months old when their prior wills were prepared, was determined to be developmentally disabled and would need Medicaid as he got older.

Had Michael and Joan kept their wills the way they were, their bequests would have disqualified Tom from SSI and David from Medicaid until their portion of the inheritance was spent down. I advised the couple that they should prepare a new estate plan which does not give any outright bequest to a beneficiary who is receiving means tested government programs such as Medicaid and SSI. Instead, I explained the benefits of incorporating a testamentary Supplemental Needs Trust (SNT) into their wills (the same concept can be applied to living trusts).

A supplemental needs trust, sometimes referred to as a special needs trust, allows a person to leave a bequest to a beneficiary in trust instead of outright. The trust, which is authorized in New York under EPTL 7-1.12, would allow the beneficiaries to qualify for government benefits while receiving distributions from the trust if the following conditions are met: (1) the beneficiary suffers from a severe and chronic or persistent disability; (2) the trust document clearly states that the bequest should be used to supplement, not supplant, government benefits; (3) the trust prohibits the trustee from using the assets in a way that may impair or diminish the beneficiary's entitlement to government benefits or assistance; (4) the beneficiary does not have the power to assign, encumber, direct, distribute or authorize distribution of trust assets; (5) the distributions are at the sole discretion of the trustee(s) and are not mandatory.
If Joan and Michael give Tom and David their inheritance in trust, the assets in the trust will not be considered the beneficiaries' assets for purposes of eligibility for SSI or Medicaid, thereby letting them keep their benefits along with their inheritance. The trustee(s) of the trust will be able to use the principal and/or income to provide Tom and David with their needs, beyond what Medicaid or SSI provides. They will be able to purchase necessary medical equipment and pay for additional care. They could also purchase a car, home, or even a vacation. It is important to note that, for SSI purposes, payments made for food, clothing or shelter are considered "unearned income" and will reduce SSI benefits by up to one-third. The SNT may own a residence where the beneficiary can live without a reduction to his or her SSI. Unlike SSI, Medicaid does not impose this penalty. If the beneficiary is a Medicaid recipient, payments can be made for various needs including food, clothing, or shelter with no reduction in benefits or eligibility.
Michael and Joan can were advised that they can use the SNT to provide for a disabled child and sibling for life. As long as the trust was funded after their legal duty to support beneficiary ended, the couple is free to direct how any unused trust property will be distributed upon the beneficiaries' deaths. They could direct that the funds be given to their other children or grandchildren if it was not used up during the beneficiaries' life. This is an ideal and statutorily authorized tool to allow a disabled person to get the care they need, while allowing their family to provide them with benefits that government programs don't pay for.

Roman Aminov is a trusts and estates attorney concentrating in estate planning, elder law, and probate. He is experienced in the drafting of wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and trusts of all types. He can be reached at (347)766-2685 or http://www.aminovlaw.com.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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