Trusts & Estates Committee Descriptions & Rosters

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Charitable Organizations
Co-Chairs: Mary Anne Cody – [email protected]  and Christine Woodcock Dettor – [email protected]
The Committee on Charitable Planning is concerned with the legal aspects of formation, governance and operation of charitable organizations, including choice of entity, qualification of tax-exempt status and qualification as private foundations, public charities or supporting organizations.  The Committee also focuses on charitable giving as a component of estate planning both in the drafting of documents and the administration of trusts and estates.  In addressing state and local aspects of charitable organization operation, it reviews fiduciary law issues, questions of director or trustee liability and local tax issues.  Furthermore, the Committee reviews proposed changes to the not-for-profit corporation law of New York, studies Internal Revenue Service activities and evaluates newly proposed regulations and legislation regarding regulation of tax-exempt organizations.  The Committee is actively recruiting new members and plans to organize an education program in 2006 which focuses on charitable and tax-exempt entities.

Continuing Legal Education
Chair: Frank W. Streng – [email protected] 

Co-Chair – Anta Cisse-Green – [email protected] and Ashwani Prabhakar – [email protected] 

Elderly and Disabled
Chair: Cora A. Alsante –  [email protected]
The focus of the Committee on the Elderly and Disabled is to address trust and estate issues which have a particular impact on elderly or disabled clients and their families.  Issues that the Committee is currently addressing include proposed federal and state Medicaid changes; recent legislation and proposed regulations on Assisted Living Facilities; proposed Living Will legislation; and proposed legislation amending the Guardianship statute and possible revisions to SCPA Section 1708 governing investments for guardians.  The committee is working on revising the NYSBA monographs on the Living Will and the Health Care Proxy to address issues under HIPAA.  The Committee also intends to prepare articles and/or CLE programs on a number of issues including Medicare Part D prescription drugs, Supplemental Needs Trusts and the transition from Article 81 guardian to the personal representative of an estate. 

Estate and Trust Administration
Chair: Michael S. Schwartz - [email protected]
The focus of the Estate and Trust Administration Committee is to address issues affecting the administration of trusts and estates. We typically have a half a dozen or more concurrent projects which yield proposed legislation, articles, CLE programs and reports on legislation proposed by others.  The committee meets regularly (with dial-in accessibility), and active participation is strongly encouraged.  Please reach out to the chairperson of the committee if you would like to be put on the list for future meetings.

Estate Litigation
Chair: Charles T. Scott – [email protected]
The Estate Litigation Committee deals with a wide range of issues that have an impact on parties and counsel who litigate over estates and trusts, primarily in the Surrogate’s Court but also in the Supreme Court.  With over 100 members, the Committee brings to bear a variety of perspectives from lawyers who often represent beneficiaries and fiduciaries, individuals and institutions, large matters and small.  Our concerns range from procedural simplification and rationalization to substantive equity and consistency in the law as it may apply in different but comparable circumstances.  We typically have up to half a dozen concurrent projects which yield proposed legislation, articles, CLE programs and reports on legislation proposed by others

Estate Planning
Chair: Sharon L. Wick – [email protected]
The Estate Planning Committee works on practice issues, legislation and substantive planning relating to the topic of estate planning.  Recent projects include proposed legislation to provide for incorporation by reference of the terms under a revocable trust; legislation on burial rights; preparation of brochures for the NYSBA on wills and trusts; research and writing of a comprehensive article on jurisdiction of trusts which included a comparative analysis of NYS; and work on amendments to the General Obligations Law relating to Powers of Attorney. Our discussions at committee meetings are lively and interesting, covering a variety of planning topics.

International Estate Planning
Chair: Daniel S. Rubin – [email protected] 

Law Student and New Members
Chair: Michellel Schwartz – [email protected] 

Legislation and Governmental Relations
Co-Chairs: Robert Harper – [email protected] and Ian MacLean – [email protected]
This Committee prepares reports on proposed bills before the Legislature that relate to wills, trusts, decedents’ estates, New York estate and fiduciary income taxes and other topics of interest to our Section.  The Committee also coordinates with the Legislation Director of the New York State Bar Association in lobbying in support of affirmative bills that have been prepared by our Section and in lobbying in favor of or against bills before the Legislature that are of interest to our Section

Life Insurance & Employee Benefits
Chair: Patricia J. Shevy – [email protected] 

Membership and Relations with Local Bar Associations
Chair: Jennifer N. Weidner – [email protected]
This committee works with the New York Bar Association Membership Committee to introduce members and potential members to the advantages and the work of the Trusts and Estates Section.  Diversity has become a prime goal.  Other areas the committee is involved in include support and assistance to local bar associations around the state as well as to law students interested in trusts, estate and estate tax matters.  Select students are invited to attend the Annual Spring Section Meeting where they are able to meet many senior members and network.  This Section is the largest in the Bar Association with over 71% of its members in law firms of 9 lawyers or less.

Multi-state Practice
Chair: William LaPiana – [email protected]
The Multi-State Practice Committee focuses its efforts on a wide array of projects and issues relating to trusts and estates practice.  Past projects have included a review of relevant law and recommended legislation regarding (I) revocation of non-probate transfers by divorce, (ii) anti-lapse of life insurance policies, retirement plans, and accounts with payable-on-death designations, and (iii) the slayer statute.  In the near future, the Committee intends to concentrate more directly on issues relating to practice across State lines, such as the differences in practice among States, traps for the unwary New York lawyer dealing with an ancillary probate, forum shopping, and state requirements for important estate planning documents such as living wills and health care proxies.

Newsletters and Publications
Chair: Jaclene D’Agostino – [email protected]
The primary responsibility of the Committee on Newsletter and Publications is the quarterly publication of the Section Newsletter.  The Committee solicits (from Section members and others) and edits articles relating to estate planning and the administration of wills and trusts, with an emphasis on new developments in planning techniques, legislation (enacted and proposed), court decisions, and other areas of New York trusts and estates law practice of interest to Section members.  The Committee also monitors all Section activities and the work of other Committees to ensure that these activities receive appropriate coverage in the Newsletter.

Practice and Ethics
Chair: Eric W. Penzer – [email protected]
The focus of the Committee on Practice and Ethics is to address issues affecting the practice of Trusts and Estates law in New York State, as well as matters of ethics affecting or applying to them.  Currently active projects include (1) a review of materials created by the Special Committee on Law and Practice Continuity (providing practice pointers to sole practitioners to ensure the protection of their clients’ interests in the event of the lawyer’s death or disability), to add materials specific to our practice area to the website being created in connection with that project; (2) review of engagement letters, to create sample forms of particular relevance to Trusts and Estates lawyers; and (3) updating of a chapter in the NYSBA publication on Estate Planning and Will drafting entitled “Practice Development and Ethical Issues.”  Last year the Chair of the Committee, participating in the Special Committee on Law Practice Continuity (with input from committee members), helped to create a publication called “Planning Ahead: Establish and Advance Exit Plan to Protect Your Clients’ Interests in the Event of your Disability, Retirement or Death” and a “Guide for Caretaker Attorneys Appointed to Protect Clients’ Interests in the Event of the Untimely Absence from Practice of a Sole Practitioner.”  Earlier this year, a proposed OCA rule change written by the Special Committee and approved by the Executive Committee of the NYSBA was submitted to OCA for its consideration, which would create mechanisms for appointment of caretaker attorneys, where needed.  In the meantime, our committee, and similar committees in other practice sections, will focus on creating practice-specific guides, which will be included when these materials become part of the NYSBA website.

Surrogate’s Court
Chair: Lisa Ayn Padilla – [email protected]
The focus on the Surrogate’s Court Committee is to address issues relevant to the Surrogate’s Court practice.  Currently, the committee has identified several new projects with which members are encouraged to become involved, including Guardianship Investments and 529 Plans, Fiduciary Commissions on Real Estate Assets, Supplemental Needs Trusts Remainder Provisions, Construction Proceedings, and Proceedings to Determine Claims.  We also have members who have agreed to write articles relevant to Surrogate’s Court issues, such as “Identifying When are Commissions Payable with Respect to Real Estate.”  In the past, our committee has been involved in many important issues, including the development and acceptance by Surrogate’s Court of Hot Docs procedural forms, and establishing guidelines for Guardians ad Litem appointed in the Surrogate’s Court.

Chair: Susan Taxin Baer – [email protected] 

Chair: Gary R. Mund – [email protected]
The Technology Committee maintains the Section’s Web site on the web site.  Among the items on the web site are a legal resource page, alerts ad ‘What’s New” page, and a listing of section committees and activities.  The technology committee also deals with questions of electronic communications between members such as e-mail lists for the various Section committees.

In addition, the committee is addressing practice questions related to the trend toward electronic forms and electronic filing with courts.  The committee is also considering issues related to office automation and the use of computer hardware and software in the practice of trusts and estates law