How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Annual Summer  BBQ Recipe

Buy the steak

Choose steaks best for grilling. Examples are flank steak, T-bone, tenderloin, and skirt steaks. With skirt steaks, always ask for an “outside” cut – it is larger, has more meat, and is more tender. Inside skirt steaks are thinner and tougher. They are primarily used for fajitas. The thickness of the steak will determine how long you need to grill the meat. Like rib-eyes or porterhouses, Thicker steaks will take longer to cook than thinner/leaner steaks, like skirt steak, which benefits from a marinade and a quick cook time on the grill.

Prep the steak

Bring your steak to room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling—a cold steak won’t cook evenly. You can marinate the steaks but don’t go over two to three hours. Marinades contain acids that break down the meat and leave the steak mushy.

Whether you use a marinade, pat the steak very dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. A wet steak will not caramelize properly, and if there is sugar in the marinade, it will burn.

Grill the steak

Fire up your grill and make sure it’s nice and hot! Whether using a charcoal grill or a gas grill, you’ll want to preheat your grill before adding the steaks. Set up two zones in your grill; the heat should be intense on one side. You should not be able to hold your hand over it for more than five seconds. On the other side of the grill, the heat should be lower but still hot. Sear the steaks for two to three minutes each on both sides, depending on the thickness of the meat. This will produce a nice, charred crust.

Move the steaks to the cooler side and flip them every minute or two. A quality digital thermometer is critical to prevent overcooked meat. I prefer the digital thermometers from Thermopen. They are professional quality and give quick, accurate readings in seconds. They may cost a little more, but it has countless applications in the kitchen.

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak (avoiding the bone or fat) and follow the temperature guide below. How long you grill the steak will depend on your desired doneness. But remember, the meat temperature will continue to rise after being removed from the grill, so you’ll want to remove the steak when it reaches about 5˚ lower than the temperatures below, as the residual heat will continue cooking the steak after it you take off the grill.

Grilled Steak Temperatures

  1. Rare: 125 to 130˚ (very red/pink)
  2. Medium Rare: 130 to 135˚ (pink)
  3. Medium: 135 to 145˚ (slightly pink)
  4. Medium-Well: 145 to 150˚ (mostly brown)
  5. Well-Done: 155˚ or higher (all brown

The two most important things to remember are never cutting into the steak while cooking (trust your thermometer) and giving your meat a chance to rest once it comes off the grill. Otherwise, the juices from the meat will dry up, leaving you with shoe leather. The juices accumulate in the meat while cooking. Letting the steak rest for about 5 minutes will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the steak. You can loosely cover the steak with foil, then let it sit for 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

IRS Actuarial Tables Updated, Retirees Can Keep More in their IRAs

It has been 20 years since the IRS last updated its actuarial tables – the ones used to indicate how much taxpayers must take from their retirement accounts. For the first time in many years, retirees can keep more money in their tax-deferred accounts starting at age 72.

The new tables reflect a longer lifespan, which is surprising, given recent reports of American life expectancy decreasing, mainly because of COVID. But we will not question the IRS’ decision, which makes it possible for retirees to keep more money in their IRAs (traditional and Roth), 401(k)s, and other tax-deferred retirement savings accounts.

Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s encouraged wage earners to save for retirement. They allow the deferral of income taxes until owners take money out of the accounts. But there is only so much waiting until Uncle Sam wants those revenues, so starting at a certain age—72— Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) must commence and are taxed as ordinary income.

RMDs prevented taxpayers from keeping money out of the tax rolls indefinitely. However, today’s billionaires are likely to have an enormous IRA as having a heliport on their ranch in Montana.

Previously, RMDs commenced at age 70.5, but the SECURE Act of 2019 changed when RMDs began. If you reached 70.5 in 2019, you had to comply with the old law and take your first RMD by April 1, 2020. If you reach age 70.5 in 2020 or later, you must take your first RMD by April 1 of the year after you become 72.

RMDs apply to traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b), 457(b), profit sharing plans, and other defined contribution plans. Roth IRAs and Roth SEPs do not have RMDs.

Why is this good news? The IRS has effectively raised the life expectancy for Americans from 82.4 to 84.6, so retirees can extend their retirement accounts over more years. Smaller RMDs mean more funds remain in investment accounts and smaller tax bills.

Good news from the IRS!

 

Reference: Yahoo! Finance (June 15, 2022) “Good News for Retirees: RMD Formula Changing for First Time in Decades”

Are You Ready for the SECURE Act’s Next Act? SECURE 2.0 Update

The latest version of SECURE Act 2.0, Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022, made it through the House of Representatives on March 29. Next is getting through the Senate, which is expected soon. Once it does, and after President Biden signs the bill into law, here’s what will change:

  • Employees will be automatically enrolled in 401(k) and 403(b) plans, with a minimum of 3% and a max of 10%, and a 1% increase every year until it reaches 10%.
  • Businesses with 10 or fewer employees, businesses under 3 years old, church plans and government plans do not have to follow these guidelines.
  • Employees may opt out at any time, but the thinking is to encourage employees to save for retirement by making it an automatic deduction.
  • Policies are changed for catch ups for retirement plans, student loan repayments and employer matching of retirement contributions and small employer plan start-up credits.

There’s more: the RMD—Required Minimum Distribution—age will extend further to age 73 in 2022, to age 74 in 2029 and to age 75 in 2032. People with traditional IRAs will have a longer period of time before they need to consider taking money from their retirement funds.

If you are concerned about how this bill may impact your estate and tax plan, please call our office to make an appointment.

Scott B. Silverberg Becomes Member of Estate Planning Council of Nassau County

We are very pleased to announce that Scott B. Silverberg has become a member of The Estate Planning Council of Nassau County, a member chapter of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC).

Membership in the Council is very selective. Candidates must be nominated, and endorsements provided by two members, then the Board of Directors makes the determination of whether or not the candidate meets the high standards of the Council.

In recent years, Scott has become a member of the National Board of Directors of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Chapter of NAELA. He attained his L.L.M. in Elder Law from the prestigious Stetson University School of Law.

Scott also serves as Vice-Chair of the Practice Management Committee of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association.

He has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star since 2020.

Scott focuses his practice on estate planning, Elder Law, and Special Needs Practice. He is an associate with the Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg, PC, located in Roslyn Heights, New York www.sjslawpc.com.

Why Did Decoration Day Become Memorial Day, and Why Does It Matter?

Every May, I find myself looking at the calendar and thinking about Decoration Day.

Most of you know the last weekend in May as Memorial Day, and this year it’s likely you have plans to gather in person with family and friends at an outdoor event. You may have summer memories of parades with veterans, high school marching bands, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, barbeques, and picnics. My family took trips north to the Catskill Mountains when all the old-fashioned roadside signs highlighted the star performers scheduled for the holiday weekend. Decoration Day was a big deal.

Decoration Day began in 1868 when General John A. Logan called for a holiday to honor the soldiers who died in the Civil War. On the first Decoration Day, 5,000 people helped decorate the graves of the over 20,000 soldiers buried in Arlington National Cemetery – both Union and Confederate soldiers.

Similar ceremonies inspired the event in cities around the country. Soldiers would decorate the graves of fallen comrades with flags, wreaths, and flowers. By 1890, every Union state had a Decoration Day.

After World War I, the purpose of Decoration Day expanded to honor all soldiers who died in all American wars. It was considered a day of civic duty to honor the dead and remember why they gave their lives.

As the years and wars have come and gone, Decoration Day became Memorial Day. Unlike Veterans Day, which honors all who serve, the traditions of Memorial Day honor those who gave their lives in service to our nation.

In 1971, Congress declared a national holiday on the last Monday in May.

For many veterans who know firsthand the experience of losing a trusted comrade in battle, that Memorial Day is only about sales, barbeques, and summertime fun is frustrating. Once a solemn holiday, I believe it is time to return at least part of the day to the concept of honoring the people who lost their lives in service to our country.

What can you do?

  • Visit a military cemetery and bring small flags. Decorate graves where it seems no one has visited.
  • Visit your local fire department in the morning before the parade, when most hold a memorial service to honor fallen soldiers.
  • Support an organization that helps veterans. The rate of veteran suicide and homelessness in America is embarrassingly high.

Celebrate and enjoy Memorial Day with friends and family. But remember how it began, and let’s honor those who gave their lives to protect our democracy.

Stephen Silverberg wins tailgating cook-off contest at New York Jets game

Can My Family Inherit My Season Tickets?

Getting season tickets is a long game for New Yorkers, and everyone knows someone who waited decades before getting them. I’ve had my New York Jets season tickets for many, many years, and hope to pass the tickets to my sons. But the sporting world has become more complicated than it was.

Will professional sports owners still allow you to pass your prized season tickets along?

The answer is it depends.

A season ticket is a contract between the ticket holder and the sports team. The terms are up to the sports team. Look at the paperwork or emails you receive along with the tickets to see if they are transferable after death.

Professional sports teams have their own process and paperwork for transferring season tickets, and there may be restrictions. The team may limit transfers to family members or surviving spouses. An original death certificate may be required. Or teams may explicitly state that the tickets cannot be transferred by will or trust, allow transfers only to a spouse or close family members, or require that ticket holders follow certain procedures to transfer the tickets. Each one will be different.

If you have New York Jets season tickets and want to pass them along (or Giants, or Nicks), you’ll want to be familiar with the team’s own rules and the estate law pertaining to this asset. It’s different from other personal property.

For example, some teams have a form you will need to fill out when you purchase season tickets, designating a beneficiary to inherit your tickets. Other teams state that only a spouse can use a deceased fan’s season tickets. Still others allow transfers only to a parent, spouse, child, or sibling. If there is no surviving family member who can take over the tickets, the tickets go back to the team.

Many teams require fans to purchase a Personal Seat License (“PSL”).  The price of a PSL can range from $5,000 up to $25,000 depending on the location of the seat. Owning a PSL gives you the right to purchase tickets for a specific seat. If you want four seats, you must purchase four PSLs. The price of the tickets is based on the location of the seats. The fan pays a large fee to buy a license for particular seats and may then buy season tickets for those seats. Most teams allow PSLs to be transferred during their lifetime or upon death.

However, not every team operates the same. The New York Giants require a PSL for every seat in the stadium. The New York Jets only require PSLs for seats in the two lower decks. No PSL is necessary for seats in the upper deck. Before implementing PSLs, the Jets allowed the transfer of season tickets to anyone. Now, only seats with PSLs can be transferred. Where there is no PSL, the tickets are forfeited upon the death of the ticket owner.

If you’ve got questions about transferring season tickets to family members, please call the office to make an appointment – 516-307-1236.

MEDICAID ALERT: New Medicaid Community Care Look Back Rules Start October 1, 2022

If this sounds familiar, you’re right—recent years have seen many extensions of rules regarding Medicaid. But for New Yorkers, this most recent change to Medicaid Community Based Care is a result of a New York State’s 2022-2023 budget and not the pandemic.

There has always been a five-year lookback period for Medicaid applicants seeking coverage for long-term nursing home care. Any transfer or sale of assets within a five year makes an applicant ineligible and nursing home costs have to be paid by the person or the family until the person spends down enough of their assets to become eligible.

The look-back is now being applied to Medicaid Community or Home Care. This is a first for New York State, and it requires seniors to do advance planning if they wish to receive Medicaid Community and Home Care services and protect their assets.

After October 1, 2022, anyone applying for Medicaid Home Care benefits will be subject to at least a 15-month lookback. It’s also possible the person and their spouses will have to provide records of up to 2.5 years before the application date.

The lookback period is not as long as for long-term nursing care, but this will still have a negative impact on those who need Medicaid Home Care.

We can’t stress this enough: As of right now, there is NO look-back or penalty period for Medicaid Home Care benefits. This includes home health aides, adult day care and community based services.

If you are considering applying for Medicaid for a loved one or for yourself, you need to act now. Once these rules change, you or your loved one may lose their eligibility. The time to plan for this care is today. Not tomorrow, not next week.

In time, the Medicaid Home Care lookback period will increase to 30 months, and an additional month will be added until the period for asset transfer records reaches 2.5 years.

As a premier Elder Law firm, we help families and individuals plan to protect assets and ensure eligibility for needed care.  Call us today at 516-307-1236 and learn how we can help you and your family.

 

Top Six Reasons to Delay Having an Estate Plan

Despite two years of COVID, two-thirds of Americans still lack an estate plan

It doesn’t make sense but is true. While we’ve never so closely known life’s fragility and know the importance of having a will, trust, or Power of Attorney, only a third of Americans have actually sat down with an estate planning attorney to create their estate plan. Many people equate estate planning with estate tax planning. Nothing can be further from the truth. Estate planning, simply stated, is making sure your assets end up with those you want to receive them

Why is this still so difficult for the average person, who stands to benefit both during and after their lifetime and whose family will be far better protected if they have an estate plan?

Mortality. Who wants to think about dying or what their family will do after they are gone? No one. But not addressing your estate plan could leave your family in a world of trouble. Estate taxes are the least of it. What if your estranged sister and brother-in-law inherit everything you own? Without a valid will, clearly stating how you want your assets distributed, it could happen.

We don’t have enough assets to need a will. People of modest means need a will, sometimes even more than people with significant wealth. You have assets worth protecting if you own a home, a retirement account, and a bank account. Without a will, those assets will pass according to the laws of your state. Remember, wealth is relative. Regardless of the value of your estate, preserving assets is the goal.

It’s expensive. Not having a will is far more costly. Without a will, administering your estate can cost more and is more closely supervised by the courts than if you had a will. An administrator’s powers are much more limited when there is no will than the powers of an executor under a will. The court will likely require an estate administrator to post a surety bond to protect the estate heirs. A bond can cost thousands of dollars per year until the estate is settled. When there is a will, the settlement of an estate is easier. If there is no will, a court proceeding known as an Accounting is required.

I don’t have time. Having a will made is something you make time for, just as you make time to see family and enjoy your favorite streaming shows.

Creating a comprehensive estate plan, including a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, HIPAA Release Form, and a Living Will, helps your loved ones avoid arguing about your wishes if a serious medical emergency occurs. It will also save the time and cost of your loved ones from going to court to be named your guardian to act in your best interest. Your healthcare providers can decide based on your expressed wishes, but only if you have completed the proper healthcare documents. Otherwise, your adult children or healthcare providers will determine your end-of-life care; and it may not be the decision you want.

It’s too overwhelming. An estate planning attorney will walk you through the information you need to gather and help guide you and your loved ones through the process. They’ll tell you what you need and why. You have only to follow their instructions.

I have so many questions. We have answers. We are highly experienced estate planning attorneys and have worked with people like you to help them put their wishes into their estate plans and prepare for the future.

When Can You Use E-Signatures on IRS Forms?

In the past two years, many traditional processes in the world of taxes and the law have been transformed by necessity, using digital signatures, or e-signatures, for many financial and legal documents. With many offices and courts re-opening and returning to pre-COVID processes, the IRS has recently reported that it will continue to allow taxpayers and representatives to use e-signatures on certain paper forms not eligible for electronic filing electronically.

These forms where an e-signature is allowed must be signed and postmarked from August 28, 2020, to October 31, 2023.

E-signatures gained acceptance to minimize the in-person contact between taxpayers and their representatives. The IRS will continue to accept a wide range of e-signatures, including:

  • A typed name on a signature block;
  • A scanned image of a handwritten signature with an attachment to an electronic record;
  • A handwritten signature from an electronic signature pad;
  • A handwritten signature, mark, or command input on a display screen using a digital stylus;
  • A signature created by a third party software.

Images of signatures will also be accepted formats, including tif, jpg, pdf, jpeg, Microsoft Office Suite, or Zip files.

It is still considered a temporary situation (however, many states have made e-signing permanent) and applies only to specific forms that require paper filing. Among the common returns that allow for e-signing are:

  • Form 706, U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return,
  • Form 706-A, U.S. Additional Estate Tax Return,
  • Form 706-GS(D), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Distributions,
  • Form 706-GS(D-1), Notification of Distribution From a Generation-Skipping Trust,
  • Form 706-GS(T), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Terminations,
  • Form 706-QDT, U.S. Estate Tax Return for Qualified Domestic Trusts,
  • Form 706 Schedule R-1, Generation Skipping Transfer Tax,
  • Form 706-NA, U.S. Estate (and Generation Skipping Transfer) Tax Return,
  • Form 709, U.S. Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return,
  • Form 1127, Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship,
  • Form 1128, Application to Adopt, Change or Retain a Tax Year,
  • Form 2678, Employer/Payer Appointment of Agent,
  • Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method,
  • Form 3520, Annual Return to Report Transactions with Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts,
  • Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner,
  • Form 4421, Declaration – Executor’s Commissions and Attorney’s Fees,
  • Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time to File a Return and/or Pay U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Taxes,
  • Form 8038-GC, Information Return for Small Tax-Exempt Governmental Bond Issues, Leases, and Installment Sales,
  • Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions,
  • Form 8453 series, Form 8878 series, and Form 8879 series regarding IRS e-file Signature Authorization Forms,
  • Form 8802, Application for U.S. Residency Certification,
  • Form 8832, Entity Classification Election,
  • Form 8971, Information Regarding Beneficiaries Acquiring Property From a Decedent, and
  • Tax Elections per Internal Revenue Code Section 83(b).

There are other esoteric forms eligible for electronic signature. Most income tax returns (personal (Form 1040), businesses (Forms 1120 and 1065), and trusts and estates (Form 1041)) cannot use electronic signatures. Documents not eligible must still have handwritten signatures unless the form is electronically signed.

 

Reference: Wolters Kluwer (March 8, 2020) “Taxpayers May Use E-Signatures on Certain Paper-Filed Forms”

The House passed “SECURE 2.0’ on March 29 – Now It’s Up To the Senate

The other day, we sent out information about the SECURE Act and your estate plan. Now the law is on the verge of changing again.

The Securing a Strong Retirement Act (H.R. 2954), known as the SECURE Act 2.0, was approved in the House on March 29 with the most bipartisan approval in recent memory – 415-5. Now it’s headed to the Senate.

A significant change is the age when Required Minimum Distributions (“RMDs”) commences. This may seem odd since Congress is usually looking for tax revenue generated by RMDs. The legislative report says raising the age for RMDs recognizes the increased life expectancies in America. Starting in 2022, you must take distributions beginning at age 73, 74 in 2029, and 75 in 2023. Before the first SECURE Act, the age was 70 ½.

The intent of the SECURE Acts is to increase the ability of Americans to save for a secure retirement. Those are the bold strokes. Expanding coverage, increasing retirement savings, simplifying the retirement system (which is maddeningly complex), protecting Americans and their retirements. Does it accomplish this?

It depends on your situation.

One provision requires employers to automatically enroll eligible workers in 401(k) plans at 3% of salary, which increases to 10%. The employees may opt out, but studies show the chances of an employee saving for retirement as an automatic opt-in is higher than if they have their own savings plan.

Government studies show that only about half of all private-sector workers participate in the retirement plans at work.

Younger workers with higher wages will benefit; the average worker struggling to pay bills will not likely see this as an advantage.

Another advantage for young workers is electing all or some of their employee matches into a Roth 401(k).

For small business owners and nonprofits, provisions in the bill contain inducements to help them with the start-up costs of offering new plans. Another provides tax credits for matching worker contributions.

For part-time employees, a way of life for so many Americans today, access to a retirement savings plan from their employer would be required after two years of service instead of the three-year requirement.

An increase for older workers near retirement allows people ages 62-64 to make catch-up contributions of $10,000 annually. The current limit is $6,500.

The bill includes four revenue-raising provisions to offset costs over the next decade, most of which would take effect in 2023. The biggest offsets would mandate any employee catch-up contributions for employees over age 50 who contribute to Roth-style accounts. Employees may put employer matching contributions into the Roth-style accounts instead of traditional tax-deferred retirement accounts.

Roth accounts are robust savings accounts for the future. They are funded with after-tax contributions, and then withdrawals are not taxable. More Roth-style accounts would mean more revenue in the near term for the federal government. Still, they would also mean less future revenue. The cost of these provisions may become burdensome over the life of the ten-year budget window.

Two bills are pending in the Senate with similar provisions. Will the SECURE Act 2.0 will make it through the Senate? Stay tuned.