Stephen J. Silverberg Named to 2024 Edition of Best Lawyers, Scott B. Silverberg Named to 2024 Ones to Watch

Attorney Stephen J Silverberg

For the tenth consecutive year, Stephen J. Silverberg, based on extensive peer review, is listed in the 2024 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the practice area of Elder Law.

Scott Silverberg

For the first time, Scott B. Silverberg is listed in the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America: Ones To Watch® in the practice areas of Elder Law and Trusts and Estates.

For the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®, a review of over 13.7 million votes resulted in over 76,000 leading lawyers being honored in the milestone 30th edition.

 For the 2024 edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America, over 2.4 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in over 25,000 lawyers being honored in the new edition.

Stephen holds the AV® Preeminent (5 out of 5) rating, the highest possible designation from Martindale-Hubbell, and has been on the Super Lawyer New York metro list since 2007.

He is designated a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation, as authorized by the American Bar Association. Applicants must pass a stringent written examination and substantial independent peer review to receive this designation. Although the test started in 1993, fewer than 520 attorneys have earned the CELA designation. Silverberg is a graduate of Hartwick College and Brooklyn Law School. He has been a New York and Florida Bars member for over forty years.

Stephen J. Silverberg is a nationally recognized leader in estate and tax planning, estate and trust administration, asset preservation planning, and Elder Law. He is the past President of the prestigious National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). In 2003 he was named a NAELA Fellow, the highest honor given by NAELA to “attorneys… whose careers concentrate on Elder Law, and who have distinguished themselves both by making exceptional contributions to meeting the needs of older Americans and by demonstrating commitment to the Academy.” Silverberg is also a former President and is a member of the New York State chapter of NAELA. 

Scott B. Silverberg is President of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and a member of the National Board of Directors of NAELA. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Elder Law Practicum of national NAELA. As a New York State Bar Association member, Scott serves as Vice-Chair of the Practice Management Committee of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section Executive Committee. Previously, he chaired the Technology Committee.

In 2022, Scott became a member of The Estate Planning Council of Nassau County, a member chapter of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC).

Scott earned an LLM (Master of Laws) in Elder Law from the Stetson University School of Law, a leader in special needs planning. He is the only attorney in New York who holds this degree. He graduated from Fordham Law School (JD, 2013) and holds a Bachelor of Science from the internationally renowned Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

The Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg, PC, represents clients in estate planning, tax, estate administration, asset preservation planning, Elder Law, and related issues. The Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg, PC is at 185 Roslyn Road, Roslyn Heights, NY 11577, 516-307-1236 and

Chadwick Boseman

Lack of Estate Planning Turns a Private Life into Public News: Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman, the actor known for performances in “Black Panther” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was only 43 when he died. Despite knowing he was seriously ill from colon cancer, he did not have a will, so Boseman’s family was tasked with managing his estate in a public manner, the direct opposite of how he lived his life.

The estate had significant expenses and it wasn’t too hard for reporters to find the details because there was no will. Court documents obtained by several news sources reveal the estate was initially valued at $3.8 million before taxes, court fees and funeral expenses. The final amount to be divided between his widow and is parents is $2.5 million.

In October 2020, his widow Taylor Simone Ledward petitioned the court to make her an administrator with limited authority of his estate, and then filed a probate case in Los Angeles.

Chadwick did not have an estate plan with trusts that could have provided the family with privacy, reporters and others were able to access court papers to learn details like the exact amount and breakdown spent on his funeral, moneys used to purchase burial spaces for other family members and the court’s determination on several private matters.

You don’t have to be a celebrity for details of your life to be made public. All probate and administration proceedings are public records, and copies of these documents can be obtained by anyone who shows up at the court. Creditors, family members and anyone who wants to pry into the details of your life can obtain these documents. Having an estate plan with the methods and tools best suited for your estate can keep your life private and minimize estate expenses.

But another lesson from the passing of Chadwick Boseman is that families do have the ability—even celebrity families—to treat each other with kindness and respect. His widow asked the court to divide his estate evenly between herself and Boseman’s parents. Most families facing an estate without a will end up in court, battling for an inheritance. Sadly, this is the exception and not the rule with estates. Having an estate plan can prevent the likelihood of your family facing this situation.


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.

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.

Why Should I Update My Estate Plan?

Estate plans need to be updated every few years or a significant life event like birth, adoption, death, marriage, divorce, relocation, or the sale of a business or real estate.

Even after years of a global pandemic, about half of all American adults still don’t have a will. A recent report by revealed those between 18 and 34 years are more likely to have a will than those in the age 35-54 age group.

If you do have a will or, better yet, a comprehensive estate plan, here are several things to review:

Who is your executor? Do you have the same relationship now as you did years ago when you named your executor? Does the person still live near you and are they still willing to serve in this important role? An executor need not live next door, but if you are in New York and moved to Arizona, some tasks may become more onerous. The executor needs to liquidate accounts, pay final taxes, pay estate taxes, and oversee selling your assets, which could include a home.

Who is the guardian for your minor children? The same relative who would have been a great guardian when your children were four, seven, and ten might not be interested in taking responsibility for three teenagers. Grandparents who adore their grandchildren may not manage the storms of adolescence. Consider who would manage your children right now and make the changes necessary. Before you name a couple as guardians, do you want the survivor as guardian if one spouse dies? Don’t neglect to add a second or even a third name for a guardian to avoid any chance of your children ending up in the foster care system. It does happen due to oversight in estate plans.

Is your Power of Attorney up to date? Suppose your life has become more complicated over the years. In that case, the same Power of Attorney (“POA”) form from ten years ago could land your estate and your heirs into trouble. The standard POA form isn’t the right fit if you have a business that will need to be sold, property in multiple states, or need to plan for a catastrophic illness. A custom drafted POA can help avoid these problems and prevent the need for a guardianship proceeding. A generic POA opens the door to potential issues.

Financial institutions often refuse to accept general POAs, especially if they are outdated. It’s wise to check in with your bank and financial advisor to see if they have their own POA forms. These forms supplement your general POA but only apply to that bank. The bank knows nothing about how your estate plan works. Protect it with a POA suited for your unique situation.

Does your estate plan include trusts? There are as many types of trusts as there are reasons to have a trust, but one thing they all share: they need to be reviewed every few years. Trusts are legal entities used to hold assets on behalf of beneficiaries. A Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is used to protect assets from being countable to qualify for Medicaid. An Irrevocable Trust is often used to remove assets from your taxable estate. It also provides directions on how trust assets can be used and when they should be distributed. A revocable trust can be used during a person’s lifetime while allowing the person to maintain control over the trust.

What kind of trust you need depends upon your situation. This document should be created with your family in mind by an experienced estate planning attorney. Let’s say you established a trust specifically to fund a grandchild’s college education. The child is now eighteen and has decided not to pursue an undergraduate degree. Do you still want them to have access to the funds? Or would you like the funds to go to another grandchild, one headed for a program requiring a post-graduate degree? An estate planning attorney who has seen the various situations that occur will create a trust with some flexibility for the future, or one that can be revised as needed.

Don’t forget beneficiary designations. Suppose your pension plan was created twenty or thirty years ago, and you haven’t looked at it since it was started. In that case, you may be leaving a windfall to an ex-spouse or someone you don’t even know anymore. Review all accounts with beneficiary designations, including pensions and retirement accounts, life insurance policies, investment accounts, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and any property titles.

If your estate plan hasn’t been reviewed for three or four years, it’s time for a review. And if it’s been over ten years, make an appointment today to speak with an estate planning attorney. The longer you wait, the more serious the potential consequences for your loved ones.

Elder Law Attorneys Stephen J. Silverberg and Scott B. Silverberg Named to the 2021 Super Lawyers Metro New York Lists — Scott B. Silverberg Named Rising Star 2021

Stephen J. Silverberg has been selected to the New York Metro Super Lawyers list as one of the top New York metro area lawyers for 2021. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers has named Silverberg to its select list of attorneys for fifteen consecutive years, from 2007 to 2021.

Stephen J. Silverberg is nationally recognized as a leader in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, asset preservation planning and Elder Law. He is a past President of the prestigious National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and was awarded the credential of NAELA Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by NAELA to “attorneys… whose careers concentrate on Elder Law, and who have distinguished themselves both by making exceptional contributions to meeting the needs of older Americans and by demonstrating commitment to the Academy.” Mr. Silverberg is a past President of the New York State chapter of NAELA and was a founding member of the chapter.

He holds the designation of a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), awarded by the National Elder Law Foundation to fewer than 525 CELAs throughout the United States. Mr. Silverberg is rated AV Preeminent (5.0 out of 5.0), the highest possible designation from Martindale-Hubbell.

Scott B. Silverberg has been named to the 2021 New York Metro Rising Stars list for the second year in a row. To qualify, New York Metro Rising Stars must be 40 years old or younger or have been practicing for less than 10 years. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

He is 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 and Treasurer of the New York State Chapter of NAELA. Scott is 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 is also a member of the Nassau County Bar Association.

Scott has attained the L.L.M. (Master of Laws) in Elder Law from Stetson University School of Law. This rigorous program is offered only to Elder Law practitioners who have provide legal services in elder law matters in highly specific areas of the law. Stetson’s L.L.M. Elder Law program faculty comprises many leading attorneys in Elder Law.

Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from over 70 practice areas who have attained high peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys. The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit

Why it’s Time to Convert Mega-IRAs to Mega-Roth IRAs

Congress is in session, with Democrats working to create a social policy plan with a $3.5 trillion price tag. Where’s the money coming from? CNBC reports that a new type of required distribution from individual retirement plans, based on the account’s value and not the owner’s age, is on a discussion list.

Specifics are meager, but the general idea is to tap “mega” IRAs – tax-deferred retirement accounts over several million dollars, and $5 million is one level under consideration. The number of mega IRAs worth more than $5 million tripled in the past ten years, while the average working American owns barely $39,000.

The goal is to find funds to support the public policy programs. It’s not the first time government funding has put large tax-deferred accounts in its sights. As someone who watches the history of taxes the way other people watch football stats (although I watch those too), I am not at all surprised.

Tax-deferred individual retirement accounts never were meant to be used as tax shelters for the ultra-wealthy. They were created in 1974 to encourage salaried employees to save for their retirement by deferring taxes on contributions. For several years, IRAs were only available to employees without the benefit of an employer’s pension plan. They could contribute up to $1,500 per year and deduct the contribution on their income tax return.

Fast forward to today when multi-billionaires put tax-deferred dollars into IRAs. A Joint Committee on Taxation analysis published in July 2021 showed that over 28,600 taxpayers owned IRAs larger than $5 million in 2019. The mega-IRA accounts hold about $280 billion, according to the Committee report. About 500 people have IRAs larger than $25 million, with the average account about $150 million. As a young lawyer, I worked for the largest pension law firm in New York City. No one contemplated the amount in these mega-IRAs.

These mega IRAs account for less than one-tenth of 1% of the approximately 70 million taxpayers who own traditional or Roth IRAs. A lot of money is sitting in a relatively small number of accounts.  Changing the law and collecting funds from 70 million taxpayers would be more work than an aggressive push to 500 people.

There are many Americans whose IRAs have between $40,000 and $5 million. Regardless of what form this legislation eventually takes, the bottom line is that the money for the social policy program must come from somewhere and that somewhere involves taxes.  The Roth IRA, funded with after-tax dollars, is about to become a lot more popular.

Besides paying taxes upfront, there are (as of this writing) no requirements for withdrawals from a Roth account, and converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is relatively easy. Income Tax is due upon the conversion, but if income tax rates go up, as we expect, then paying taxes now is a better choice than paying after there are any increases.

For wealthy households concerned with increasing tax levels and the possibility of the government taking bites from a mega-IRA, converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA could be the right move for right now.

May is National Elder Law Month – What Does That Mean?

It began in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy met with the National Council of Senior Citizens and designated May as “Senior Citizens Month” to honor Americans age 65 and older with a Presidential Proclamation. Since then, May has also been designated Elder Law Month by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of legal services for older Americans and individuals with special needs.

In most years, Elder Law Month is recognized by Elder Lawyers who offer educational programs and work with local community groups to support the legal needs of seniors. The goal is to help seniors and their families better understand their legal options regarding Medicaid eligibility, long term and health care planning, special needs planning, elder abuse, and other issues germane to senior Americans.

Two historical events have merged in the last year and a half to make this a timely and important issue. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many Americans to confront their mortality. Millions of families across the country learned first-hand how not having a plan for serious illness and death created more problems, complications, and costs for the survivors.

At the same time, the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and the transfer of boomer wealth has been underway for the past few years. As of this writing, Boomers are 56 to 74, and they are aging. Over the next two or three decades, Boomers will need to plan for increased medical and long-term health care services.

To clarify – Elder Law and Special Needs Law are different from Trusts and Estate law. Elder Law and Special Needs attorneys are more focused on representing seniors and disabled individuals and their families with legal issues while they are living.

Trusts and Estates law is more focused on post-mortem planning, including creating wills, succession planning and tax planning.

Elder law attorneys help clients with estate planning also, but their practices are skilled with issues like:

  • Long Term Care Needs and Medicaid
  • Eligibility for Medicare and Social Security
  • Guardianship and Incapacity
  • Elder abuse recognition and prevention
  • Assisting with placing individuals in long term care facilities and advocating for patients living in these facilities.

New challenges to seniors and their families continue to emerge, as we recover from the worst of the pandemic and prepare for the coming years. An experienced, well-credentialed Elder Lawyer is an invaluable resource for individuals and families in preparing for the future. We celebrate Elder Law month in May, we practice Elder Law every day all year round as we work with clients to protect them and their families.

If you have any questions about Elder Law or estate planning issues, we invite you to call the office at 516-307-1236, visit our website or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.


Estate Planning Tells Them You Really Care

Another box of chocolates, another dozen roses, but after Valentine’s Day has been and done, and these are fleeting moments. What is not fleeting is an estate plan, which may not sound romantic until considering how much an estate plan shows your love.

We’re not kidding.

An estate plan includes a will. That gives your loved ones security, in knowing you have planned for their well-being after you are gone. A surviving spouse will know what your intentions are and, if they are named the executor, be able to put your plan into effect.

Without a will, your surviving spouse and family members must go to court and an extensive process to determine what happens to your assets. The time and expense in settling your estate far exceed the cost of a proper will.

An estate plan also includes trusts. A trust can be either created while you are living or in your will. The use of trusts can prove essential to protecting your family from outside claims such as healthcare costs and marital and creditor claims. It is a great kindness, ensuring that your loved ones can access assets (depending upon the terms of the trust) and have one less pile of paperwork to deal with.

An estate plan addresses taxes. While most Americans do not come near today’s current federal estate tax exemption of $11.7 million per person, odds are the estate tax exemption will soon be reduced to somewhere between $3.5 million to $5 million. This will cause a tenfold increase in taxable estates. And there are state taxes to deal with and taxes on certain inherited assets. Creating a comprehensive estate plan address tax issues, including retirement accounts and real property. Tax planning could make a significant difference in the quality of life for your surviving spouse.

Estate plans include documents that protect you and your family while you are living. A health care proxy will give your loved ones the ability to decide on your behalf if you are severely sick and cannot communicate your wishes. An Advance Directive will clarify your wishes for end-of-life care.

Think of the stress alleviated if your spouse need not play guessing games about what you want to happen. And the years of guilt if they decide in haste and during the high emotions of your illness without knowing what you wanted.

A few other steps to take to complete your estate plan:

  • Review your power of attorney to make sure it is still current and valid.
  • Review your life insurance beneficiary designations.
  • Review all accounts with beneficiary designations to ensure you still want the people named to receive your assets.

You can always go out to dinner or send your true love a gift. But the gift of an estate plan demonstrates love in a much deeper way – by showing your loved ones you care enough about their lives when you are not with them.

Happy Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day – Is Your Estate Plan in a Time Loop?

If you wake up every morning thinking that you need to get your estate plan updated, or worse, created, you might feel like Bill Murray in the classic movie “Groundhog Day.” Actually, a lot of days in 2020 felt like Groundhog Day: a never-ending time loop of working from home, dining at home, working out at home, visiting with friends and family from home, etc.

There’s a way to get out of an estate plan time loop, and it won’t require you to go through endless mornings with a clock radio playing The Beatles’ “Tax Man” song.

If you have been putting off updating your estate plan, it’s time to get it done.

Your estate plan is at risk if it is out of date.

If your estate plan has not been updated since before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of December 2017, there may be estate planning opportunities that you are missing.

If your estate plan has not been updated since the SECURE Act went into effect in December 2019, there may be missed opportunities. There is still time to benefit from the changes.

If you are waiting to see what changes are coming from the new administration and the Democrat-controlled Senate, this is not the time to procrastinate. Whatever changes may be coming in the future are exactly that—in the future.

The new administration and Congress have many large issues to tackle immediately, from addressing a global pandemic to responding to domestic terrorists. President Biden did propose changes during his campaign, including eliminating the basis adjustment for assets and making changes to the federal estate tax exemption, which is likely to change before the planned sunset of 2025.

But there is an exceedingly long stretch between the time a campaign promise is made and what actually becomes law.

Negotiations with the House and Senate, efforts by lobbying groups and the White House staff, take time. And while you are waiting for the law to change, your estate plan may put you or your loved ones in a precarious position.

If your estate plan is stuck in Groundhog Day, call our office at 516-307-1236 and make an appointment to meet with us by phone, video conferencing or in the office. We can get your estate plan updated, and get you out of the time loop. Eventually, Bill Murray got to tomorrow in “Groundhog Day, and the same can happen for your estate plan.