Welcome to RickBryan.com!
Welcome to the official website of Richard Bryan Attorney, P.C. My offices are conveniently located for Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town residents at the corner of 14th Street and 1st Avenue, on the second floor of 237 1st Ave., Suite 201, New York NY 10003 (the old bank building). The best way to contact me is to simply call 212 979-2868, or send an email to RBryan@RickBryan.com.
My practice is in New York City, primarily Manhattan, and my firm focuses on Estate Planning and Elder Law. I am widely known throughout Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, and most of my clients are from this community where I live. Residents of Waterside Plaza and Midtown East find my offices convenient too. My work also includes a variety of legal matters which are not commonly associated with estate planning and elder law, such as Asset Protection planning for investment assets or real property, and legal representation of business owners (including forming and advising corporations and limited liability companies), for example.
Estate Planning most often includes drafting Wills, various types of Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, Living Wills, Burial Proxies, and many other documents that help someone protect, manage and grow their wealth during lifetime, and then at death pass those assets to children, grandchildren and charities in an orderly, cost effective, and tax efficient manner. Minimizing probate costs, and maximizing the value of property transferred at death is a major focus of estate planning. Probate of a decedent’s estate comes after death, and I can provide cost effective representation in all New York counties if you are the Executor of an estate.
Although much of my practice involves relatively routine estate planning and guardianship matters, I have the technical skills and experience to handle almost any type of complex estates and trusts related transactions. Where necessary, like all lawyers, I will partner with other attorneys where the client’s needs involve areas where I am not as experienced.
As I mentioned earlier, most of my clients (about half) are from the Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town communities, and generally from zip codes 10010, 10009, and 10003. As a resident of the community, I am deeply concerned with the long term viability of our wonderful and unique neighborhood: I do excellent work for the community for very reasonable fees, which are often based on a client’s financial ability to pay for the legal counsel they need. And I make house calls! But that is only half my practice: I am also very much involved in the New York community of insurance advisers and financial planners. I network within these organizations, and am well known as the ‘go to’ lawyer when the financial adviser needs to refer their client to a qualified attorney to prepare documents and represent the client in a sophisticated transaction involving life insurance, annuities, IRAs, other retirement plans, or investment transactions. I have an in-depth knowledge of life insurance and annuities, and the creative ways of using these important products not only as protection vehicles, but to benefit the high net worth individual and business owner in tax efficient ways. Let there be no doubt that the client is to whom I owe undivided loyalty, regardless of whether that client is referred to me by an investment professional. However I believe I am more familiar than many estate planning attorneys with buy-sell agreements (cross purchase, stock redemption, trusteed arrangements, etc.), split-dollar arrangements, private annuities, qualified and non-qualified deferred compensation plans, charitable trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, asset protection trusts, generation skipping (“dynasty”) trusts, supplemental needs trusts, conduit and accumulation trusts, and almost every other type of sophisticated arrangement used by wealth advisers for their high net worth and business owner clients.
In addition, I have courtroom experience as well, and understand that the most brilliantly conceived and drafted estate plan which does not hold up under cross-examination (in a contested probate, will construction, or trust litigation matter), is not worth a hill of beans. I practice real world tax and estate planning for real life people with legal matters which need to be addressed.
My hourly rates for 2011 are $360.00 for general legal services and $540.00 per hour for income, estate and gift tax planning and/or advice and related rate. For 2012, these rates will be increased to $375.00 and $560.00 per hour, respectively. For 2013, $390.00 and $575.00 per hour. These rates apply whether the services performed a strictly legal, paralegal, or work typically performed by assistants and/or secretarial staff.
Please read carefully: a “Will” IS NOT the same as an “Estate Plan.” A Last Will and Testament is always (well, almost always) one part of an ‘estate plan,’ but an estate plan encompasses a complete review of a client’s financial, health, and family situations; matches those facts with the client’s goals and objectives (both during lifetime and at death), and develops a comprehensive plan of action which meets those objectives. For example, an estate plan would usually include not only a Last Will and Testament, but one (or probably more than one) revocable or irrevocable trusts; rearranging ownership of assets as between husband and wife, and perhaps the children; checking and reconfiguring beneficiary designations; and taking a sharp pencil to figure out the best way to reduce income taxes, gift taxes, estate taxes, and probate costs. Clients may have property in states other than New York, or in other countries, or family members in other countries to inherit property. Various business arrangements need to be considered. Children or grandchildren with special needs, or who are in unstable marriages, or who cannot be trusted to save and invest an inheritance wisely, for example. Every person’s situation is different: there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” estate plan. Unfortunately, some television personalities, Suze Orman, for example, whom I consider one of the most inspiring persons in the world for turning around her life the way she did, is unfortunately giving very, very bad and overly simplified advice when she discusses wills and trusts. I don’t know why; perhaps she really does not understand the potential complexities involved, or maybe she does, and just wants to sell her books and software. I don’t know. Regardless, sometimes people really do need nothing more than a plain vanilla Last Will and Testament, and sometimes people need an estate plan. They are not the same.
“Elder Law” is a broad area of the law which includes planning in advance for the eventualities of aging, such as physical or psychological impairments, including dementia or Alzheimer’s. If mom or dad is in this situation, or you understand the need for advanced planning for yourself or your parents, you should come in to talk about the various options available. Social Security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran’s benefits, etc., are all part of the field of law known as ‘Elder Law.’ If you need to begin a Guardianship proceeding in any New York City county, we can complete the process efficiently and effectively. The most important legal document most for most seniors is a Health Care Proxy, and you can complete one yourself (or help mom or dad do so), by going to the website of the New York State Department of Heath. Seniors need to have a Power of Attorney form too, but you should come into the office to complete a Power of Attorney, because it’s a very important legal document. The lack of a Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney can lead to a costly Guardianship process if mom or dad losses capacity. No matter what it takes, the financial and emotional consequences of improper planning for physical or mental disability can be catastrophic. I see it every day, and it’s so saddening that due to a lack of motivation, or for fear of legal fees, people don’t have their documents prepared in time. This can lead to an awful, awful state of affairs. Please, don’t let this potentially costly and emotionally draining process happen in your family.
“Advanced Markets” refers to a variety of legal, tax and financial techniques which are designed and coordinated to help you start, grow and protect your business and personal wealth. Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs), Spousal Life Insurance Access Trusts (SLATs), Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs), and dozens of more strategies, are all included in the toolbox of the experienced estate planner. Corporate by-laws, Partnership and Limited Liability Company agreements; buy-sell agreements, deferred compensation plans, executive bonus plans, Employee Stock Option Plans, and others, are often used by businesses to leverage the owners’ interests. Because of the very favorable income tax aspects of life insurance and annuities, these products are often used in a wide variety of strategies and techniques designed to increase wealth in an exponential fashion. Our firm has developed a niche specialization advising and drafting documents related to the use of financial products.