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30 THE QUEENS COURIER • BUSINESS • FEBRUARY 9, 2017 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM The Elder Law Minute TM Revisiting one’s estate plan in 2017 BY RONALD A. FATOULLAH, ESQ. AND DEBBY ROSENFELD, ESQ. Most people procrastinate when it comes to getting their affairs in order. Drafting wills and signing advance directives automatically reminds people of their mortality. We relish our independence and good health, and executing powers of attorney and health care proxies reminds us of potential incapacity down the road. So, when individuals finally address these issues head- on and decide to meet with an attorney, it is disconcerting to hear that estate plans that are drawn up must be revisited after a certain period of time. We typically tell clients that their estate plans should absolutely be reviewed if there is a major change in their lives—for example, a significant increase in assets or a falling out with a family member. That notwithstanding, estate planning documents should be reviewed at least every five years. However, our current year—2017— poses different concerns. The Republican Party is now controlling the White House and both houses of Congress. While no new laws have yet been enacted on a Federal level, there is talk about significant changes being made to estate ELDER LAW RONALD FATOULLAH ESQ, CELA* tax laws as we know them. Many legislators are advocating for a complete repeal of the Federal estate tax. At this time, individual taxpayers can pass up to $5,490,000 in assets free of Federal estate taxes (New York state has a lower threshold of $4,178,500, which will increase on April 1). Because of the significant amount of assets that can currently pass free of tax, the repeal will not affect a good portion of the population. However, the changes to the estate tax law might also include the elimination of the step up in basis upon death. Basis is the actual cost of an asset. The basis of an asset is used to determine the amount of capital gains taxes upon the sale of such asset. If one pays $250,000 for a home, $250,000 is its basis (assuming no capital improvements have been made). If the house is sold during the person’s life for a higher amount, i.e., $750,000, the difference (i.e., gain) will be subject to a capital gains tax (there is a $250,000 capital gains tax exclusion if one sells a home that he/she owned and lived in for two of the past five years). The current law provides that when an individual who owns property dies, any property in the estate of such individual gets a step up in basis. If the home increased in value to $750,000 but was retained by the individual until his/her demise, such amount will now be the new basis, or starting point for calculating gain. If the decedent’s children sell the house, they will not recognize any capital gains taxes. If this law is repealed, there may be significant capital gains taxes when a person dies and his/her property is then sold. (Note: The contemplated law, if passed, may only apply to individuals with assets over $10 million.) The potential repeal of the step up in basis rules will impact how people manage their assets. Until now, most people have held onto highly appreciated assets until they die so that capital gains taxes can be avoided or minimized. If people needed money, they typically tapped into assets that had not appreciated significantly in value. Further, because there has been an automatic step up in basis upon death, people with poor records regarding the initial purchase price of the assets have not been penalized. Even if the purchase price of the house in the above example was unknown, it would not matter because there would be a step up in basis upon death anyway. If the rules regarding step up in basis are repealed, people will have to be far more meticulous in their record keeping. The initial cost of each asset (including stocks, etc.) will have to be retained in order to compute capital gains taxes upon the sale. If new laws are enacted, people will ultimately engage in more income tax planning to minimize any tax bite. This year is perhaps a good one to revisit one’s estate plan and to keep a close watch on the forthcoming legislation. Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. is the principal of Ronald Fatoullah & Associates, a law firm that concentrates in elder law, estate planning, Medicaid planning, guardianships, estate administration, trusts, wills, and real estate. Debby Rosenfeld, Esq. is a senior staff attorney at the firm. The law firm can be reached at 718-261-1700, 516-466- 4422, or toll free at 1-877-ELDER-LAW or 1-877-ESTATES. Mr. Fatoullah is also a partner with Advice Period, a wealth management firm, and he can be reached at 424-256-7273. editorial Employment Matters: How to Retain Good Employees Dear Mindy: I am having a problem retaining good employees. I spend lots of time looking for the right candidates, only to find that they stay for a while and then leave. Do you have any suggestions? Looking for help Dear Looking: Employee turnover is expensive for your organization not only because it can cost almost twice the departing employee’s salary to find a replacement, but turnover can decrease performance and morale. Use the suggestions below to help retain your good employees: #1 Hire Correctly: Before you begin looking for your next employee make sure you are clear about what their responsibilities will be and what key skills the new employee will need to be successful in their job. When speaking with candidates, be honest about your EMPLOYMENT MATTERS MINDY STERN SPHR, SHRM-SCP, expectations and company culture to gauge if they will be a good fit for the job. #2 Provide Competitive Compen sation and Benefits: Do a market survey to find out if your salary and benefits are competitive in your industry. You don’t want to spend time hiring and training new employees only to have them leave for your competitors who may be offering better benefit packages. #3 Train Your Employees: It is important to provide skills development to all levels of employees. Not only does training keep your employees engaged, but it can keep them up to date on communication skills, technology changes and industry specific developments that will help them be successful at their jobs. Informed employees will improve client retention while providing improved job satisfaction for the employees. #4 Listen: You can learn from your employees if you listen closely. Often they will have the best grasp of changes you can make to improve efficiencies, reduce costs or impress customers. Let them know that you are open to suggestions by implementing a virtual suggestion box and give prizes for the best suggestions. Ask employees to be part of the solution to demonstrate that their opinions matter and that they are an important part of your organization. #5 Recognize Your Employees: Don’t take your employees for granted. Take the time to recognize their accomplishments with a simple thank you note or a sincere praising statement like “You continue to amaze me with your attention to details. I could not have completed this project without your help.” It will go a long way in making your employees feel appreciated. If your budget allows include small tokens of appreciation like gift cards or certificates to encourage future performance. #6 Provide a Positive Work Environment: Employees appreciate the little things that make their lives better. Explore local vendors who may want to provide services to your organization at no or low cost. Some suggestions are chair yoga classes; blood pressure screenings; chair massage treatments; lunch and learns; casual dress Fridays; ice cream Tuesdays; etc. These type of events help employees build a community of shared experiences as well as create a positive work environment. Mindy Stern, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, ACC is a trusted HR advisor, career and leadership coach, author, speaker and president of AIM Resource Group Inc. Visit the website at or call 718-217-1074 if you would like to learn more about leadership or provide leadership training to your staff.

FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM FEBRUARY 9, 2017 • HEALTH THE QUEENS COURIER 31 THE DRAIN HOLE Q: On a construction site, I was passing from the roof into a room. First, I moved my left foot across its two-foot-high threshold. Then, without realizing it, I stepped into an uncovered drain hole in the floor directly behind the threshold. This caused me to fall to the floor. Apparently, a contractor had failed to provide temporary protection at the drain hole. A: You appear to have a good case under Labor Law § 241(6), which requires that an owner and contractors provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to any person employed at, or lawfully visiting, this site. Your attorney will allege a violation of 12 NYCRR 23-1.7(e)(1), which applies to tripping hazards in a passageway – contending that the room’s ‘doorway’ constituted a passageway within the meaning of the regulation, and that the proximate cause of your injury was the drain hole within this passageway. You also seem to have a good case under Labor Law § 200 and common -negligence. Your injuries arose from the condition of the workplace, rather than the method used in performing the work, and it is very likely that you can show that the defendants were on notice as to the uncovered drain hole. As for the drain-hole contractor, it may contend that it owed you no duty of care because it ‘lacked contractual privity’. Your attorney is likely to say in rebuttal that nevertheless you were entitled to rely on that contractor’s performance, when you walked across the threshold. the NEW NATIONAL PET DENTAL HEALTH MONTH Full Service Hospital Providing Exceptional Care to Companion Animals Help your pets live long, happy, healthy lives Annual Exam & Vaccination Spaying & Neutering Pediatric & Geriatric Care Soft Tissue & Orthopedic Surgery Radiology Ultrasonography Electrocardiography Best Veterinarian 2014 THE QUEENS FOUR ONES of the 15% OFF DENTAL CLEANING BOOK YOUR PETS DENTAL EXAM NOW! Expires 3/31/17 Endoscopy Dental Care Diagnostic Laboratory Dermatology & Allergy Testing Nutrition Behavioral Counseling Internal Medicine 42-02 215 St. Bayside, NY 11361 718-423-9600 Evening & Weekend Appointments Available Cancer Care Alternative Medicine Ear Treatment Boarding & Bathing Physical Therapy Underwater Treadmill Ophthalmology Ronald Rosen, D.V.M. Jamie Zhen, D.V.M. Pam Galati, D.V.M. FREE PARKING QC Your COMPLETE Transportation Service Tired of the Rest? NOW YOU CAN AFFORD THE BEST! $3 OFF Airport Trips Good on any ride, any time when you use Four Ones Car Service. EXPIRES 2/28/17 AIRPORTPDDINGS SWIPE DRIVERS WANTED Call 718.544.1111 Must have Class E License & TLC permit. Over 24 years of age. and GO! Our cars are now equipped with credit card machines for your convenience, so keep your credit/debit card handy! 718-441-1111 BASE LIC #B00008 $2.00 OFF ANY RIDE WITH THIS COUPON CANNOT BE COMBINED EXPIRES 03/31/17 RW Times