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Expert Advice on Estate Planning for Homeowners: An Interview with Ryan Walsh of The Law Firm of Ryan J. Walsh & Associates

By Ryan Walsh

Tell us a little bit about your company and the areas of law that you practice.

Our office is a full-service real estate law firm. We represent buyers, sellers, lenders, non-profit, and cooperative buildings in real estate transactions. I first started my real estate practice to help nonprofit organizations involved in providing counseling and funding to first-time home buyers. This grew into representing first-time homebuyers and educating them on the responsibilities of being a homeowner. It is my way to give back to the community that gave me so much. Our other focus is estate planning.

Is there something that most people in New York don't know about estate planning that they should know?

Most people do not know that they even need estate planning. Most people believe you have to be incredibly wealthy to have an estate plan and that creating an estate plan will cost them a lot of money. Everyone can benefit from basic estate planning, and it is relatively inexpensive in respect to the risks it prevents against.

What are some of the biggest reasons that estate planning is essential for homeowners?

Estate planning for homeowners is essential for a variety of reasons. With a proper estate plan, estate taxes can be avoided, property can be held in a trust for the benefit of minor children, proper Medicaid planning. Education on what to avoid is also necessary. Homeowners sometimes mistakenly transfer property to loved ones without taking into account the consequences. Some of the risks are creditors of the loved one attach their debts to the property, Medicaid penalties, and unfavorable tax consequences.

Can you give a brief breakdown of the key steps in the estate planning process you go through with your clients?

  1. We find out what do they need out of their estate plan.
  2. Find out their assets and liabilities.
  3. Find out their heirs, beneficiaries, minor children.

What is one of the challenges that homeowners face when they're creating an estate plan?

One of the biggest challenges in creating an estate plan for homeowners is speaking to their loved ones and appointing executors, guardians, and fiduciaries. The underlying problem is facing one's own mortality and having loved ones face that mortality as well.

What happens when someone wants to make changes to their estate plan?

An estate plan has to be as flexible and changing as one's life. An estate plan can be changed at anytime. Wills can be re-executed and amendments can be added to trust documents.

What practical advice do you have for New York homeowners who have not given much thought to creating an estate plan?

Start with the basics. Draft a will, living will, power of attorney, and health care proxy.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

My office is very responsive. We have 5 attorneys who answer their cell phones, emails, and text messages around the clock.

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About The Author

Ryan J. Walsh began his legal career representing first time home buyers, real estate...

Phone: 718-793-2488

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