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A Will Is an Important Estate Planning Document, But It Doesn’t Always Avoid Probate

January 24, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

An estate plan usually begins with a will or a living trust. While a basic will is important for providing your instructions, it does not avoid probate. Any assets that are titled in your name or directed from your will have to go through the probate process before they can be distributed to your beneficiaries. In the event that you own property in several different states your family will probably have multiple probate situations, each one aligned with the laws in that particular state.

The process can vary tremendously from one state to another and it can become very expensive with executor fees, legal fees and court costs. It can also take anywhere from a couple of months to two years or longer. It can also be opened up to the public in certain situations. This is why it’s important to realize that the court system and not your family actually controls the process of your estate plan if you use only a basic will. Not everything that you do own will have to go through the probate process.

Assets that allow you to name a beneficiary such as annuity or life insurance policy will be exempted from this as well as jointly owned property. However, there are many reasons to consider using a revocable living trust as this is a very popular option for many families and professionals. It helps to avoid the probate process at death and can even assist with multiple probates in the event that you own property in numerous states. It can also bring all of your assets together within one plan and give you a better shield of privacy.

Make Use of the Federal Gift Tax to Pass on Assets

January 23, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

While your estate plan should certainly include careful strategies about how you want to pass on your assets after you pass away, it might also be worthwhile to use the annual gift tax allowance to transfer some of your property while you’re still alive. This can help a loved one who needs assistance now and it can help you minimize the size of your estate. Of course, this is a strategy that should be evaluated by your New Jersey estate planning taxes

Since the federal gift tax is based on gifts made within a calendar year, perhaps you’re looking ahead to what you want to gift in 2017. You are able to give up to $14,000 to each person every year without facing taxes. This means that if you have a larger gift, you can pool this with your spouse to give up to $28,000, or you can spread out your gift across several years.

In some ways, this allows you to plan ahead over many years and remove assets from your estate. It can also make sense for spendthrift children, who you may want to receive assets, but only in smaller portions than a lump sum. Depending on your needs and goals and the behavior of your beneficiaries, this might be the most effective way to handle your estate. However, this is just one strategy. This gift tax exclusion is something that will likely make up part of your estate planning but not the whole strategy. Meeting with an estate planning lawyer in Monroe Township can help you identify your short-term and long-term planning goals so that you’re making use of all relevant strategies.

Longevity and Estate Planning for the Wealthy in 2017

January 19, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

As longevity has been increasing and advances in medical technology may only continue that trend, it presents an estate planning challenge for anyone, but particularly wealthy families. The major reason for this is that it can be challenging to determine when and how to pass on assets to beneficiaries so that those individuals can begin managing those assets on their own. 

Now more than ever, long-term care is a concern for people approaching retirement age and beyond. With good health, a person may lived ten or twenty years beyond their retirement age. One long-term care event, however, could threaten assets significantly if recovering from that event requires assisted living or a nursing home.

It’s not just about potential physical or mental ailments, either. While those certainly can present obstacles without proper estate planning techniques, there’s also the fact that someone entering retirement or moving on to the next phase of their life might not want to be responsible for asset management anymore. This presents an opportunity for beneficiaries to take over control of the assets while the grantor is still alive.

At face value, this seems ideal, but there may also be side consequences, too. This is why it’s a good idea to sit down with your New Jersey estate planning attorney to discuss whether it makes sense to pass assets on now and to determine the best vehicle for doing so. Planning now helps to minimize the chances of family disputes and can be better for everyone involved when done properly. Set up a consultation with an estate planning attorney today to learn more about how this can help you and your family.

Half of Prince’s Estate Likely Goes to Uncle Sam Due to Poor Estate Planning

January 18, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

There’s been no shortage of celebrity estate planning blunders in recent years, illustrating that even wealth and celebrity are not protection enough when it comes to planning for the future. So what’s behind the massive estate tax bill? 

The Prince estate is coming up on their deadline to pay the estate taxes for the musical mogul, and it’s believed that up to half of the $200 million estate would be swallowed up immediately with a payment to Uncle Sam. One of the biggest reasons for this preventable tax situation is that Prince left no will and therefore did no planning ahead to shelter any of his assets from the government.

Taking no action can be detrimental for any estate, but the stakes are higher for anyone with substantial assets like Prince. When he passed away, the estate became subject to Minnesota’s 16 percent state tax and a federal tax rate of 40 percent. Adding in deductions and exclusions, the federal government’s cut will likely be closer to 50 percent of the total estate value.


While the size of Prince’s estate certainly makes the issues much more serious in this case, it’s a good example of the value of estate planning for anyone. Taking no action at all can prove catastrophic and add further grief and frustration for your loved ones. There’s a good chance you have plans and ideas for your estate but that you also want to minimize any challenges your loved ones experience, too.

Thankfully, action steps now can make things easier for everyone in the future. Contact an experienced estate planning lawyer in New Jersey to talk further about strategies that you can use to minimize taxes and make the administration of your estate easier on loved ones.

Helping a Loved One Age in Place

January 17, 2017

Filed under: Aging In Place — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

One of the biggest concerns for the retiring population and individuals approaching older ages has to do with being able to age in place. More than ever, people are interested in living out their retirement years and beyond in their own home and comfortable surroundings rather than in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital. 

Careful planning can allow for this situation to become a reality, but family members should always be aware of the best way to support a loved one who has the desire to stay in his or her home. This means thinking ahead about how other support structures, such as visiting family members or a paid individual who checks on your loved one every so often, can give peace of mind to everyone involved.

The first step in this process is to recognize that your loved one’s home as it stands now may not support his or her needs. Some modifications may be necessary in order to help your loved one live a more independent life. It may be worth scheduling a meeting with your family member’s doctor in order to better understand his or her needs and how some changes within the house might be both necessary and helpful.

Recognize that an outside individual in the form of companion support or a home health aide may be the extra level of help your loved one needs so that all the tasks of caregiving do not fall on family members, who may be unable to keep up with a consistent schedule or struggle with overwhelm.

Including all relevant family members as well as healthcare providers for your loved one in the plans for aging in place can allow you to see some of the pros and cons of this decision. Proper support and planning ahead can go a long way.

Business Exit Planning: The Sooner, the Better

January 16, 2017

Filed under: Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

When it comes to looking years down the road in your business, one of the most important things you can do is to plan early. Starting now allows you to understand all the key issues while also building in time for training and flexibility.

Most business owners do not anticipate their own exit, whether it’s through retirement or other reasons, such as disability or divorce. This can prove problematic for the entire company, not just the owner. This is because the transition of a business should be planned well in advance with careful consideration given to who will take over the major management aspects of the company and other responsibilities.

A business owner usually has the mindset that he or she will be in the chief role for many years to come, but he or she may naturally tire of the responsibility or need to depart suddenly. Without any forethought, this can lead to scrambling to choose the right person. 

Aside from planning ahead for the transition of staff and the right training time for someone to step into bigger roles, there may be tax consequences related to how the business is handled, too. The critical documents for the business, like a buy-sell, may also outline what is and is not allowed. Anyone who could potentially be impacted by a business owner leaving should be thinking about the role of business succession.

It might seem like it’s too early to plan for departure, but it’s far better to accomplish these conversations earlier rather than later. No one expects to suddenly depart their own company, but failing to even consider the option could lead to conflict and confusion if the event does happen.

The right lawyer can help you understand the role played by business succession planning and why it should be incorporated into your business strategy as soon as possible.

What You Should Know About a HIPAA Release and Estate Planning

January 13, 2017

Filed under: HIPAA — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

There are many different documents that you may wish to have in your arsenal when it comes to preparing for your future. One of these, for example, is referred to as a healthcare power of attorney which allows a trusted individual to make decisions on your behalf about your medical treatment if you become unable to do so on your own. Only medical powers are granted in this document rather than financial powers. However, you may want to also consider a HIPAA release. 

This is one of the most important documents to keep a copy of with all of your other estate planning materials. The health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996 outlines that medical records have to be kept confidential. It can also have unintended consequences, however. Without the legal ability to share medical records, it could be challenging for your family to get critical information about your treatment and medical condition if you become incapacitated.

A HIPAA release will allow your medical providers to give this information to your loved ones in the event that something happens to you.  The documents you have set aside for health purposes may be beneficial to your family members if something unexpectedly happens to you. Although these are difficult topics to consider, thinking about them in advance can help you with a broad range of estate planning goals and needs.

Tax Planning Tips for Giving to Charity in Order to Make the Most with Your Gift

January 12, 2017

Filed under: Charitable Giving — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

If you’re thinking about giving some of your assets to charity and want to use the estate planning process to do so, you are not alone. Many individuals, regardless of their net worth, understand the value of giving back.

Charitable giving benefits go well beyond planning for taxes. This is also a way to support your personal beliefs and values and to ensure your legacy. Although no two individuals are the same and you should certainly consult directly with an estate planning attorney about your options, you need to realize that you do have some flexibility with what to give. Giving a check no matter how big the check is might not actually be the best way to assist you or the charity.

From the perspective of taxes, the type of asset or property you give could have different consequences. You could be limited in the amount of cash you can actually gift to a charity while still getting a tax break. Sometimes people will choose to instead give appreciated public securities. Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer in your state is the best way to determine how to translate your unique wishes and desires.

How Long Has It Been Since You Looked at Your Estate Plan?

January 11, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Beyond never beginning the estate planning process, the second most common mistake that individuals make is thinking that estate planning is something that can be completed only once. Many people believe that if they generated an estate plan 10 or 20 years ago, they are all set for the remainder of their life. However, assets and family relationships are subject to change and that’s to say nothing of shifting estate planning rules.

In the wake of a new president-elect calling for significant changes in the estate tax process and procedures, it’s important to remember that networking with an attorney also gives you an overview of what to expect when regulations or laws are changing down the road. This could significantly compromise any estate planning documents or strategies you have aligned in the past so it’s a good idea to already have a relationship with someone who is familiar with the landscape and can help you adjust as necessary.

There are many different situations in which it’s a good idea to dust off your estate planning and revise it as changes in your life are made. The birth of a new child, a marriage or a divorce are all significant reasons that you should consider consulting with an estate planning attorney.

Has it been some time since you’ve taken a look at your past planning? Now is a good opportunity to ensure that your plans are still in line with your needs

How to Use Business Succession Planning to Help Your Firm and Your Staff Grow and Thrive

January 9, 2017

Filed under: Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Meeting with an experienced business succession planning attorney can help you overcome what’s known as decision inertia. Meeting with a professional who has assisted others with a business succession planning process can minimize the uncertainty that may exist when it comes to thinking about your future. Helping you determine the desire for passing on the business can generate some difficult questions but also some important ones.NJ business succession lawyer

Many small businesses today struggle to create a comprehensive framework for developing their staff and yet this can be critically important in the perspective of business succession planning. Although you might be thinking traditionally about who will take over the business, it is equally important to understand how you will help develop and train the current staff that you have so that they can step into management roles.

Thinking about who will play these key roles down the road can be extremely beneficial for the firm as well as it minimizes confusion and uncertainty in the event that you have to suddenly exit. Remember that business succession planning is not something that comes into play only when you pass away or sell the business.

It could also come into play in a situation in which you are disabled and suddenly need to exit the business. This is why there are so many benefits to conducting your business succession planning now. Many people cannot anticipate accidents or disabilities that will have a significant influence on their personal as well as their professional life. Having a business succession plan that identifies talent now and works to help people grow into roles can be extremely beneficial.

Is Revising an Estate Plan One of Your New Year’s Goals?

January 5, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Most people fall off the habit train for their resolutions pretty quickly, but you can buck that trend by putting in a call to an estate planning lawyer now. If it’s been some time since you sat down with an attorney to walk through your needs, the new year is a great time to recap the changes in your life and determine whether old strategies are still helping you accomplish your goals.

One of the most common reasons you’d need to update an estate plan is due to changes in your family. This could be in the form of marriage, the birth of a new child or grandchild, or divorce. As those changes occur, you need to make sure that your documents are in line with the updates in your life.

An estate planning lawyer can help you walk through what you need and how well your current plan is performing with your strategies. If updates are needed, or documents need to be created entirely, your lawyer can help point you in the right direction. In order to make sure you get the updates to your estate planning done, contact a lawyer today to make an appointment. Getting it set up now can help you clarify your needs and gives you a better chance of accomplishing the goal. Bring any current documents with you to the meeting. It’s also helpful to have an inventory of any assets and liabilities, too.

Retirement & Estate Planning Hard for Boomers

January 4, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

A new study indicates that not much has changed in the landscape of retirement and estate planning; these are major issues that a lot of boomers are struggling with. While there’s a general recognition that both processes are valuable, a lack of action can put pre-retirees and retirees at risk of major problems.

These outcomes are from Hearts & Wallets, a data firm that seeks to explore how investors make decisions. In their yearly survey, the organization looked at more than 5,000 adults classified as “late-career” (those between 53 and 64) and individuals who plan to retire within the next several years.

While most survey respondents were somewhat confounded by the most appropriate response to retirement planning, estate planning was a tricky subject, too for both retirees and pre-retirees. Estate planning was an area in which individuals were more likely to become overwhelmed. For all the respondents, 26% said that estate planning was very difficult or somewhat difficult. Along with that, however, less than 10% of those same individuals actually reached out to get help with their estate planning.

While the prospect of getting your affairs in order, whether it’s for your own retirement or for estate planning purposes, can seem overwhelming, there are also major benefits to getting it done and forming a relationship with experienced professionals in this area. Finding the right lawyer, for example, can clear up most of your estate planning questions pretty quickly. Don’t let your family be the ones trying to answer difficult questions or navigate the probate process on their own- get these concerns addressed upfront by setting up a meeting with a New Jersey estate planning lawyer.


Top Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan in 2017

January 3, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Your estate plan should be a living document, and there’s a good chance that it will evolve as you add and remove strategies going forward. As laws change or as the makeup of your family changes, the tactics and documents previously created may no longer apply.

There are several key things that could happen in the New Year that could warrant an updated estate plan:

  • Injury or Illness: Whether it’s a family member getting sick and you need to help them revise their plan or whether you’re concerned about your own health, having a power of attorney is strongly recommended. Your lawyer can help you determine what is most appropriate for your situation.
  • Divorce: Getting a divorce presents numerous changes in your life. Since your former spouse was probably linked to all your prior documents and plans, you need to have a sit-down with your estate planning attorney to walk through updates. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that since these plans were set up once that they are still fine.
  • Marriage: As with any family change, marriage represents a lot of financial and legal differences, too. Ensure that your estate plan is in line with your new spouse and any children. This becomes even more important if you’re getting remarried. 
  • Adoption of or birth of children: The birth or adoption of a child is an opportunity to revisit your estate plan. If you were childless before, there’s a solid chance your estate plan needs an overhaul. Make sure that you put in a call to your estate planning attorney as soon as possible so that you can update these important materials.

If you see change on the horizon in 2017, such as a marriage or the birth of a new child, take the necessary steps to have a conversation about your estate plan before it happens.


Keep Business Assets Separate from Personal Assets

January 2, 2017

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

In the process of asset protection planning, there are many different steps you need to take. You need to begin by separating your business assets from your personal assets. In addition, as you develop income diversity it is equally more important to consider business and personal assets as separate. This helps to protect these assets in different situations. For example, if you become the subject of a lawsuit, your creditors could tap into the businesses that you have worked so hard to build. Ensure that your business structures have been developed properly to protect any personal assets.NJ asset protection lawyer

Making use of trusts is one common way that you can engage in successful asset protection planning situations. An attorney who specializes in the process of asset protection can help you identify the right strategies and documents to assist you with this goal. Getting assistance in managing your assets can be extremely important in the protection process. Having tight control over all of your assets at any time means that someone from the outside can successfully argue that you are truly in control of all the assets and that they are yours rather than being placed inside a trust and having the trust maintain the ownership.

It is very important to have a barrier between you and your assets for this purpose. Unfortunately, there are many different risks that could jeopardize the control and future of your assets. Failing to take action until it’s too late could mean losing access to these assets and generating numerous unnecessary problems. Consulting with an experienced asset protection planning attorney could help.


Treasury Hearings Lead to Family Business Owners Decrying Estate Tax Valuation Rules

December 29, 2016

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Along with appraisers, estate lawyers, and CPAs, family business owners were present in an Internal Revenue Service auditorium recently, to share their opposition to propose Treasury Department rules that will have a significant impact on their legacy plans. These proposed rules are referred to as the 2704 regulations and these would minimize valuation discounts and lead to increased estate taxes on the death of an owner of the family business. 

Many of the people opposing these regulations were in the room to support that they be withdrawn entirely. Supporters of the rule believe that the estate gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes would close a tax loophole that is only being used by the wealthy.

However, opponents believe that this would eliminate any discounts which are used appropriately and legitimately across succession planning toolkits across the United States. Many people testified of their concerns about how this would impact their family business.

This hearing drew the largest crowd ever to show up at a public hearing at the Treasury, and the proposed rules have already drawn comments from 9, 477 members of the public as well. The hearing itself lasted all day.

As estate planning and business succession planning tools and tactics are subject to change, it is important to form a relationship with an experienced business succession planning lawyer early on.


Reasons to Have a Family Business Succession Planning Talk Now

December 28, 2016

Filed under: Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Every family business should have succession planning as a key priority. Sooner or later every individual will want to retire but there are numerous other reasons why you may wish to step out of a business. Ensuring that you have enough money to retire on and that you have key procedures in place in the event that someone wishes to leave the business is important not just for the future of the company but also for your loved ones.

Think carefully about whether or not the business will be carried on by relatives. If this is the case, then it is more important to have a clear business succession plan to manage the issues including a smooth transition between the people who are working there now and future owners of the business. In any family business, succession planning can become immediately more complex as a result of the emotions and the relationships involved.

According to research, more than 70% of businesses owned within the family will not survive the transition from the founder to the second generation. In the majority of cases, the challenges that ultimately close down these businesses are family discord and taxes. However, setting up a meeting with an experienced business succession planning attorney now can help to address these issues and avoid them entirely. You may wish to consult with eth tax component as well as the potential for reorganizing the corporation and the strategies by which future business owners and managers will be trained in their new roles.


Don’t Allow Your Family to Become Half of All Americans

December 27, 2016

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

According to plenty of research studies, half of all individuals in the United States don’t have an estate plan or a will at all. People make plenty of opportunities to make excuses for putting off the inevitable. For example, you may be uncomfortable thinking about or planning for your own mortality, or you may be under the impression that you don’t have enough assets to warrant an estate planning NJ

However, passing away without a will or any more extensive plan can only add further grief and frustration for your family members. You could risk changing the family dynamics by having family members forced to figure out the next possible steps. During a time when they are already coping with the grief of a lost loved one, it can be too much to bear to deal with the probate process.

Without any will in place in New Jersey, decisions about who will administer your estate or who could be appointed to be the guardian of your minor children will fall to a local probate court. This might mean that your intentions are not carried out as you would have wished them to be. Thankfully, setting up a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney gives you the opportunity to address these issues sooner rather than later. Your estate plan is something that needs to be flexible and adjustable based on your individual needs and your loved ones’. A knowledgeable attorney can meet with you on an annual basis to ensure that your documents have incorporated any changes in the family.


Could Estate Planning Actually Be Used to Relieve Your Stress?

December 26, 2016

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

There are many different reasons that you might choose to engage in the estate planning process and all of them are important. Thinking carefully about your family’s future as well as the individual wishes you have for how your owned assets will be passed on are some of the most common reasons that you might approach the estate planning process. Likewise, many people think about estate planning in the context of handling something after they have recently been married, divorced or had a new child added to the family. 

When confronting difficult or rare medical issues, it is important to consider long-range healthcare planning as well. An increasing number of individuals will be confronted with long-term care planning opportunities. With long-term care, disabilities and challenges but failing to plan for these could mean unnecessary financial stress.

Thinking carefully now about how you plan to approach the long term care planning process can enable you and your loved ones to approach the future more effectively. For example, are you going to purchase long-term care insurance to assist with covering these costs in the event that you had a long-term care event? Or will you be relying on yourself, essentially self-insuring? Bear in mind that there are strict rules about qualifying for Medicaid and that you may need to take action now in order to capitalize on a plan that allows you to ultimately qualify for Medicaid down the line.

Don’t wait too long to take these steps as it could ad additional stress and frustration for you and family members. It can even be difficult to make the right decisions when you feel rushed into this opportunity. Do not hesitate to get the help you need from an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney.


Key Things You’ve Got to Know for Small Business Succession Planning

December 22, 2016

Filed under: Business Succession Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

No matter the size of your business, it’s important to think ahead to the future. This could be one of the most important ways that you protect your loved ones and also ensure a successful financial future for your business. What follows are several of the most important tips to keep in the back of your mind when it comes to succession planning. The longer you put off the process of succession planning with an attorney the harder it will be to take action.

Here are four tips you need to use to maximize your succession planning opportunities immediately. These include:

Here are four tips you need to use to maximize your succession planning opportunities immediately. These include:

  • Involving your family. No matter what vision you have for your future, make sure that your relatives are at least included in succession planning discussions.
  • Put together a team of advisors. Your dream team of advisors should include a business succession planning attorney, business partner, succession planners and even accountants to guide you through what could be a complicated process.
  • Include and exit strategy within your business plan. There’s a good chance that you already have a business plan identified for the next several years. Your exit or succession strategy should also be incorporated into this plan.
  • Identify and train a successor. One of the most common mistakes made in the business succession planning process is not getting the appropriate help and training opportunities for your business today. Thinking long range means you need to carefully consider who is within the company now who could potentially be trained to take on a more management role. This may even require bringing in outside talent if you do not currently have someone who is interested in this potential role.

Waiting too long could jeopardize the future of the company because the person you select may not have the appropriate background or training in place if something were to happen to you. Consulting with an experienced business succession planning attorney is often a first step towards success.

Top Tips for Talking About Your Estate Plan

December 21, 2016

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

As you gather with family for this holiday season, keep in mind that talking about your estate plan could become difficult if you have plans separate from what your loved ones intended. However, this is also a great opportunity to stay focused on what you need to share and how best to support your loved planning New Jersey

First of all, make sure that someone has access to the information that will be necessary in the event that you pass away. For example, your estate planning attorney should have a copy of everything but you may also wish to let a loved one know where relevant information such as your documents are stored, like in a safe deposit box or access to your password related information.

You may want to have your loved ones step in to deactivate or memorialize your social media accounts, for example, but they may be unable to do this if you do not provide them with the appropriate tools to get it done. It can be difficult to manage these accounts event after someone has passed away and you have relevant proof that they are indeed deceased.

Companies must obtain additional support and it may be simply easier for you to leave behind your password access information or use a tool such as Last Pass to authorize other individuals in the event that something were to happen to you. When visiting with family, try to avoid conversations about who will be receiving what unless your loved ones can come to a sense of agreement on various pieces of property. Over the holidays, arguing about various assets and materials could quickly devolve into a major family argument if you are not careful.


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