WHAT WE DO - HOW WE DO IT
What We Do
Whatever legacy you wish to leave for your family, or for anyone else, we can help you make it happen. Whatever you’ve acquired in your life, it can make a difference in the world you leave behind. We will also think through the risks that you may face in your life, and ensure that you have the legal structure in place to deal with them.
Probate & Estate Settlement
Each person’s life is unique; the estate that each person leaves behind is equally unique, reflecting their particular family relations, their particular assets, and their particular wishes. Each detail must be treated in a way that’s legally correct and practically workable. We manage all the procedures, and the all people involved, to ensure a smooth completion to your difficult task.
What could be difficult about buying or selling a home? A lot. Especially in New York, where most properties are coops or condos. We’ve been doing this for decades and know all the ins and outs. We’ll protect you from every problem we’ve ever seen, and guide you at every stage as to the procedures, problems and expenses that you may encounter along the way.
How We Do It
We are here to help you make sense of thigs, to put things in order. We want you to understand your options, your plans, and your documents. Our job is to help you make your own decisions, and to write them up in intelligent English, not in Legalese. Because the essence of Law is Order.
This firm is focused on People. Ron started his career in corporate law firms, where he gained sophisticated professional skills. Then he set up this practice, to work with individuals, couples and families on the things that matter most to them. Your home, your relationships [family], your small business, your intentions for the future. We deal with the sensitive subjects in your life, in a solemn bond of trust.
In a bit over a decade, we’ve served about a thousand clients. And it turns out that each one is unique. The greatest service we provide is to craft solutions that will work for you: the creative inheritance plan, the challenging tax problem, the complex family situation. We don’t just do things the way they’re always done – unless that’s what you actually need. We tailor our work to you.
Different projects are billed in different ways. We have four basic billing models for different kinds of projects:
a. Flat Fee. This applies to Estate Planning work when we create a new set of documents.
b. Standard Hourly Rates. This applies to most Probate / Estate Settlement work, and all contentious estate work, as well as anything that does not fall into any of the categories specifically described on this page.
c. Discounted Hourly Rates. This is a lower fee scale that applies to Estate Planning revisions, Estate Planning post-signing follow-up work, and other small-scale work that is not part of a major project.
d. Target Fees. This is used for Residential Real Estate transactions. We set a target fee, based on the average scope of work in this area, but we also log our time at our discounted hourly rates. If the logged time is within 25% of the target fee in either direction, then the target fee is the final amount payable. If the logged time is more than 25% over the target fee, the logged time is the amount due, and if it is less than the target fee, we will refund the difference. (Expenses are payable in any event.)
Occasionally, other arrangements are appropriate. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.
We will advise you of our applicable hourly rates (standard or discounted) when you engage us for the project. Please understand that our rates do increase periodically and that such increases are applicable to projects already in progress.
Out of State Work
There are certain types of work that we do frequently that may involve states other than New York. The attorneys of this firm are licensed in the state of New York, and there are certain limitations on what we can do when your issues cross state lines.
In estate planning matters, we may create a revocable trust for you. In such circumstances, you may have property outside of New York that must be transferred to the trust. Deeds for these properties, and any related filing forms or taxes, must be handled by local counsel in the state where the property is located.
In a probate or administration matter, you may have property located in other states. While we can handle the judicial proceedings in New York which may be necessary to initiate the administration of the estate, the actual transfer of the property may involve an additional “ancillary” proceeding in each state where the property is located. Such proceedings must be handled by counsel within that state.
If you are aware of such interstate issues in your work, please bring them to our attention, and we will discuss them in full detail, and do our best to connect you with competent counsel can complete the job that we begin for you.
It is our standard policy to retain files for a period of seven years, and to do so in electronic, rather than paper, form as to all materials other than legally significant original documents such as wills or coop stock certificates.
In the event that this firm ceases operations, we will make our best efforts to contact you and deliver your files to you. If this does not occur, we will make best efforts to transfer our files to a successor firm and to notify all past clients of such transfer through our website and mailings. Original wills may be deposited for safekeeping in the Surrogate’s Court of the county in which the client resided at the time the will was signed.
Communications & Meetings
Most of our work is done by telephone and email. Face-to-face meetings are helpful, especially at the beginning of a project, so that we can get to know each other well. A solid relationship is very important to establish trust and mutual understanding through a project that can be complex, stressful and highly personal.
Certain kinds of documents can be signed in an informal manner, by emailing copies of signed pages. Some require the formalities of exchanging original notarized documents. And other documents, such as wills, have the highest level of formality, requiring that you come to the office in person to sign in the presence of witnesses.
We usually have client meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with appointments beginning between 11am and 5pm. You can schedule your own appointments here.
We are happy to talk to you on the telephone, though of course our availability is limited by our other activities. Email is often the most efficient manner of communication. The best practice is to address your message both to Ron and to whichever of the associates is working on your matter. We will get back to you as soon as we reasonably can.
We specifically discourage communication by text message or anything less formal than email. Careful expression and complete sentences are crucial in this kind of work. Even if we receive or respond to your text message, we specifically disclaim responsibility for communications in this manner.
Terms of Engagement
All client relationships are governed by our standard terms of engagement and by the specific terms of our individual client engagement letter.