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Steven M Zelinger
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Steven Zelinger’s Answers

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  • An old credit card debt has sent me a tax as if it was income? Can they do that? It was in 2011 since last payment..

    An old credit card debt has sent me a tax as if it was income? Can they do that? It was in 2011 since last payment..

    Steven’s Answer

    I generally agree with the other attorneys - it can be deemed "cancellation of debt" income. You should see a CPA regarding determining if you are in fact considered insolvent for purposes of partially or fully excluding the income.

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  • Can I legally request that my husband and I be listed on the trust to have access to the money if needed before they are 18?

    My grandparents left money in their will from their estate to my children when they turn 18 but put my Aunt in charge of setting up the trust. Can my husband and I legally be listed on the trust incase something happens to our children before they...

    Steven’s Answer

    I think you may have some possible misconceptions or misunderstandings about a trust. To know for sure the document has to be reviewed, of course, but if the will calls for trusts shares to be set up for these children, it ilikely also allows the trustee to make discretionary distributions for things like health, education, maintenance and support. After that it likely calls for distribution at certain ages in terms of chunks of assets to go out to them. So it is probably not your Aunt who is "setting it up" but rather she is the trustee charged with the fiduciary duty of carrying out the grandparent's wishes. Now she may have discretion on certain things so in that case you have to advocate for your children if they need support. As the parents you have the legal ability to represent your children in court matters so you would never be "listed on" the trust. Many trusts of this type will allow for medical expenses and final expenses for your children to be paid then direct what happens to any monies left for them after they die.

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  • How do I protect that money from NJ Medicaid as she will have to go into long term care permanently.

    Elderly person in New Jersey just had an annuity mature and cannot reinvest it.

    Steven’s Answer

    You may want to talk to a financial advisor about a medicaid compliant annuity if it is possible. That or an irrevocable trust if the situation warrants. You need to speak to an elder law attorney.

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  • Is it illegal for an employer to withhold $600 in taxes from a single paycheck/settlement in the amount of approximately $1694?

    I was owed unpaid earnings for work activity that I was forced to do off the clock. The employer agreed to pay the wages after a complaint was filed with the Department of Labor. After acknowledging this was agreeable and allowing the employer t...

    Steven’s Answer

    It does sound high but if you file and get a refund what is the difference in the end?

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  • How to file tax stating the money donated?

    As an independent contractor, during the filing of tax, how do I report the money donated not for a charitable institution, but to a family I helped with $850 monthly cash. Also, how will the beneficiary will file tax when they receive this donati...

    Steven’s Answer

    I do not think the fact that you are an independent contractor is relevant. If it were a legit business expense you would deduct such an amount on your Schedule C. However this is a gift from you personally from what it sounds like (not a business-related deduction). In order to take a tax deduction on your Schedule C it has to be an "ordinary and necessary" expense in your business pursuit. To take it as an itemized deduction elsewhere on your 1040 you need the donation to be to a proper charity (such as a 501(c)(3).). The person you gave funds to does not have to do anything. As a person gift the amount is well below the yearly exemption amount for filing of a gift tax return ($14,000) so you need not report such a gift. I would consult with a CPA when doing your income taxes this year because it sounds like you need a bit of guidance.

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  • Does she get free reign of house, home, and cash-on-hand, life insurance monies, investments, and all left behind properties?

    Step-mother of deceased father appointed administrator to pay household expenses and bills. She's spending money on new appliances, receiving offerings/donations for household repairs deceased had previously paid for, and has found large amounts o...

    Steven’s Answer

    You should consult a local attorney. I am not clear about the description - is the administrator YOUR step-mother (surviving wife of the deceased) or the deceased's stepmother? Wife would make a lot more sense and greatly effect the answer.

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  • Do you still have to pay the IRS your installment agreement amount while you have a pending offer in compromise?

    I pay $200 a month to IRS for money I owe. If I sent off an offer in compromise do I still have to pay the $200 a month until they get back to me? I hear it could take forever.

    Steven’s Answer

    I agree with the other attorneys - you still have to pay on your installment agreement.

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  • Does next of kin supersede medical POA in state of Nebraska in a life support decision?

    Father in Nebraska signed medical POA for daughter. Father choked on pill and was put on life support in hospital. Son authorized doctor to take father off life support without consulting daughter. Son claims doctor told him that since he was n...

    Steven’s Answer

    Did the hospital know the advance directive existed? If the POA was available it would control over "next of kin." It seems at this point there is no argument though if he passed already. Sorry for a very tough situation.

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  • I didn't see this until after I explained everything up top... Do I have a right to see the will or to know the stipulations?

    If a person is mentioned in a will, do they have a right to see it? Or to know what they were left? My sisters are keeping me totally in the dark as far as what our parents(both deceased) have done. They will say that the money is in a trust that ...

    Steven’s Answer

    If you are concerned about enforcing your rights your best bet is to see an attorney in NY about it. If the will(s) have been probated they will be publicly available through the local probate office (Surrogate) which is by county of the deceased at death so you can go look that up for yourself as well. If the funds are in trust it is very possible that there are restrictions on your access to the money.

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  • Do judges question the motivation of a trustee who is willing to get sued for failing to make a mandatory distribution?

    Many lawyers have told me that I am entitled to a mandatory trust distribution but the trustee claims that this was not the grantor's intention. As a trustee, he has nothing to lose by making the distribution and nothing to gain by refusing. I th...

    Steven’s Answer

    I think you can harangue about a philosophical motivation all you want but you need a lawyer to work you through the process of this - judge's can sniff out BS when they see it usually but most cases are settled before a hearing anyway so don't worry about a judge's thoughts yet.

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