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No plans or contract for day care fire alarm / Trusts and Estates considerations
May 15, 2020
No plans or contract for day care fire alarm
            We are a micro alarm company mostly residential customers. We have a fire alarm system in an old frame house that is a children's day care center.
            The owner states that his insurance company does not require the fire alarm to be monitored. We have also questioned the local Fire Marshal that did the start-up /walk through inspection having jurisdiction; He also states the building does not require monitoring.  There is no sprinkler system in the building.  The children are kept on the first floor U shaped porch with three exit doors.  There are no other uses for this building. We went heavy on the addressable system we installed just to be on the safe side. Of course the insurance company doesn’t care;  they are always looking to escape paying claims. 
            Bottom line this installation is just a local system; there is no signed contract of any kind. We have NICET 3  listed and approved prints.  There is no yearly test and inspection contract / agreement. 
            Should there be a claim who would be LIABLE?
Name withheld
            I don't know what cockamamie jurisdiction you're in that doesn't require a fire alarm in a day care center, but usually the licensing agency of the day care would require it.  But assuming you don't need the monitoring, you need a contract.  You don't have one.  You will be liable for your negligence. 
 It's too late for a contract for the installation, but you should not to any repair work, inspection or monitoring without a signed Fire All in One .  And that goes for every commercial fire customer you have.  Every residential customer needs a Residential All in One.  
            You should re-evaluate your operation.  You should not be doing any security or fire alarm work without a proper contract.  If you can’t conceive of the liability exposure, then think of it in more selfish terms:  You are building no equity in your business; you will have nothing to sell.  Your business is what you put in your pocket today.  That’s not really the most you should be getting out of your alarm business.
Trusts and Estates considerations
            With all the deaths happening, and my doctors telling me to live in a bubble since I have 9/11 related health issues (breathing/lung), and not having updated my Will or set up a trust, I have questions and know you and your firm has answers.  
            Updating the Will is fairly simple, but, picking the proper or best type of trust is an issue.  Pro's and cons of each, best way to set up, what goes in it and how does it get there, etc?  Rather than going on with questions, what do you recommend?
            Most people don’t like thinking about trusts and estates, let alone their Last Will and Testament.  Preparing or “updating” a Will is not, as you put it, “fairly simple”.  Sure, it’s fairly simple for me, like programming a fire panel is simple for you.  But I can’t program a fire panel, and you can’t prepare a will, at least not without spending a tremendous amount of time studying the law.
            Different stages of life present different reasons for having a Will.  If you have young children your foremost reason may be to provide Guardianship.  When you’re older you may need to provide for transfer of specific assets or care for specific people or causes.  As you age you finally realize you can’t take it with you, so you have to really honker down and figure out where you’d like it to go.
            When it comes to needing a Will it doesn’t matter if you are sitting on billions, millions, thousands or something of great importance to you but of little value otherwise.  We have clients who will leave minimal estates, but they spent a great deal of time considering how they want their estate administered.  Other clients with lots of money and assets may spend little time or thought.  A good lawyer should present options when it comes to planning an estate.
            Trusts are used to earmark assets for specific beneficiaries.  A trust can be established before death, called an intervivos trust, or after death, called a testamentary trust.  There are several intervivos trusts and they are differentiated primarily as those created for tax and probate purposes [generally to reduce an estate to reduce estate taxes] or for more personal reasons [to care for a child or another who can’t care for themselves].  Trusts designed to reduce taxes and probate are generally Irrevocable Trusts.  This is a great trust if your assets are more than the tax exemption [currently around 11 million for federal] and you are willing to give up the asset while living.  If you don’t really give up the asset [and by that I mean the control over the asset] you end up with a defective trust, and you may not avoid the taxes and probate you hoped for.  [you won’t be around, so it certainly won’t matter to you].  
            Little long winded, but you did ask.  Here’s it in a nutshell.  If you have anything and you want it to go to someone specific, it’s best to have a Will.  Even if you die with a car titled to your name your estate may have to be probated.  If you own an alarm company you need to address that asset in your Will or transfer it to a Trust.  There are too many variables  to consider for any real advice here; you have to engage K&K for estate planning and document [Will and Trusts] preparation.  We can only service our clients in New York for this area of law.  It’s not as simple as alarm law, which we do all over the country for our clients.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301