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How Did Shelly Sterling Control the Clippers Sale Decision?

July 23, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Asset Protection Planning,Trusts — Tags: , , — admin @ 5:09 pm

The Los Angeles Clippers sale recently seemed to go ahead just the way that most players, fans, and the NBA commission wanted it, leading to an agreement that sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. The control behind the sale, however, went to Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly, causing many to wonder just how she managed it.

How Did Shelly Sterling Control the Clippers Sale Decision
(Photo Credit: wallerz.net)

Shelly made her move with a boilerplate provision included in the Sterling family trust, which maintained ownership over the Sterling’s interest in the Clippers. Since both Shelly and Donald were co-trustees holding equal authority over that trust, she was eligible to make the decision based on another standard trust provision regarding mental competency.

Shelly had already had Donald evaluated for mental competency. Under the trust’s guidelines, if either Shelly or Donald were found by two qualified physicians to have “an inability to conduct business affairs in a reasonable and normal manner”, that individual could be removed as co-trustee. As a result, Shelly would have become the sole trustee with the decision making power and authority to sell or manage the business how she saw fit and that is her strategy.

Whether planning for your family’s assets or for those of an NBA team owner, when in generating trusts’ planning attorneys may recommend that provisions like the one above are put into the language for the protection of both individuals. If not included, the co-trustee (or business partner, as it may be) could be exposed to serious risk in the event of some form of incapacity. If not planned at all, it could all be left up to a court to decide. Get more details about trust planning today by contacting us at info@lawesq.net or at 732-521-9455.

Estate Planning Tips for the Blended Family

July 22, 2014

Filed under: Blended Families,Divorce,Estate Planning,Estate Planning for Children — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:58 pm

Second or third marriages can be very fulfilling, but they also bring their own set of challenges when it comes to estate planning. There could be children from previous relationships and children that have been born into the new marriage. If both parties were previously divorced, this can complicate property and other assets that have been brought into the marriage.

Estate Planning Tips for the Blended Family
(Photo Credit: revealedintime.blogspot.com)

You want to approach this issue by thinking about your individual estate planning goals first. Your assets, like investments, retirement plans, brokerage accounts, jewelry, cars, and houses, should all be considered. If you have not recently updated your beneficiary designations, you will want to consider whether your goals have changed as a result of a new marriage. Frequently people forget to update the beneficiaries on these important accounts after getting remarried, so it’s important to schedule an annual review with your estate planning specialist so that your documents always reflect your most current goals.

If there are certain items that you want your children to receive, make sure that you clearly note these items in your estate planning documents. Leaving all of the property to the surviving spouse may not be the best approach because it doesn’t ensure that those children will actually receive those benefits. In many cases, it’s most appropriate to use trusts to provide for the spouse while making separate plans for the children to receive the property. To learn more about our special planning for blended families, reach out to us through email at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Hey Buddy? Questions to Ask Before Going Into Business With a Friend

July 21, 2014

Filed under: Business Law,Business Planning — Tags: , — admin @ 4:52 pm

It’s exciting to think about the prospect of going into business with someone you already know, but this step should be taken carefully or you might wind up with a difficult working relationship and an impaired friendship. Here are some of the most important questions you should review when thinking about whether a friend equals an ideal business partner.

Hey Buddy Questions to Ask Before Going Into Business With a Friend
(Photo Credit: vanityfair.com)

  • How much trust do I have for this person? You’ll see that numerous experts compare business relationships with marriage. Are you willing to go through ups and downs, which are all part of running a business, alongside this individual?
  • How does that partner improve and build on your brand?
  • Does this person have a selling point or critical skill that you’re missing? It can be a good idea to work with someone who offers something that you don’t. If you’re missing executive experience, for example, perhaps look for someone who offers that.
  • What is their life position? It could be difficult to work with someone as a partner who is not in a stable life location. Although this doesn’t meant that your partner has to have all his or her ducks in a row, someone just coming out of a bankruptcy might pose risks for your company.
  • Would a pilot project work? Before committing to a full-on business together, maybe trying out a small version or pilot project will give you a sense of your strengths and weaknesses.

To talk more about concerns of a business at the startup stage, contact us through email at info@lawesq.net or by phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

When to Think About Charitable Remainder Unitrust Alternatives

July 18, 2014

Filed under: Charitable Giving,Income Tax Planning,Taxes,Trusts — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:40 pm

For many individuals approaching estate planning, charitable giving is going to factor into the equation somehow. The most popular way of passing on assets currently is through a charitable remainder unitrust, but it’s not necessarily the best option for everyone, although last year nearly $90 billion was held in U.S. trusts of this type.

When to Think About Charitable Remainder Unitrust Alternatives
(Photo Credit: lifehealthpro.com)

Here are some of the most common reasons that you might want to use something other than this trust vehicle for your charitable giving:

  • Tax Savings Today: You want maximize your current tax deduction. A charitable lead trust could be a better alternative for this situation, since you get an immediate federal income tax deduction when the gift is made. The tax deduction equals the present value of the future income stream.
  • You want the gift to begin now: Under a charitable lead trust, the client will typically gift the assets directly to a charitable trust. That trust then makes regular payments for a specific number of years or for life. Under a remainder trust, though, the charity doesn’t get anything until the trust’s term is up.
  • You want to see regular payouts: This is there’s a difference between a charitable remainder annuity trust and a unitrust. The annuity trust guarantees equal payouts throughout the length of the term (such as every year), which gives the person setting up the trust confidence that payments are being made at regular intervals.

When it comes to charitable giving, you have options. Contact us today to learn more via email info@lawesq.net or 732-521-9455 to get started.

For The Ladies: Special Estate Planning Considerations for Women

July 17, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:33 pm

For the most part, financial planning and estate planning tools are very similar for men and for women, but there are several facts that result in special planning considerations for women as well. The root of these considerations is that in later years, women may face their own set of challenges.

For The Ladies Special Estate Planning Considerations for Women
(Photo Credit: businesshangouts.net)

To start with, women tend to live longer than men do. A woman may overlook the fact that odds are in her favor for outliving her spouse. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, nearly 40 percent of women over the age of 65 are widowed. That longevity may also lead to higher medical bills. When your financial future is built on a husband’s pension or Social Security benefits, the woman can face major challenges as a widow.

Women are also much more likely to provide care to children and elderly parents. Many women tend to take on this role for older parents, which can be emotionally challenging and a financial adjustments.

Women looking at estate planning should seriously consider where their income will come from in the future and what, if any, benefits they will be eligible for. If women are looking at caring for their own elderly parents, it’s also worth a look into the parent’s planning to see whether they have made plans for long-term care or factored in the financial aspects already.

A little advance work can go a long way in helping women live long and comfortable lives. To learn more about estate planning, email info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Family Business: Steps to a Viable Succession Plan For Your Family Business (Part 2)

July 16, 2014

Filed under: Business Law,Business Succession Planning,Family Business — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:29 pm

There is no doubt that working in a family business can be rewarding, but it might also come with some challenges. With regard to succession planning in particular, here are some of the top tips you need to consider when multiple relatives are coming to the same table on a family business.

Family Business: Steps to a Viable Succession Plan For Your Family Business (Part 2)
(Photo Credit: perthnow.com.au)

  • Make clear goals and objectives. Getting everyone on the same page with where the business “is” and where it’s “headed” is not easy, but you can bring things full circle by thinking about common goals and visions.
  • Create a process for making decisions: Don’t rely on the way you have always done it as a family. You may need more formal structure and written explanations of how decisions are to be made. Don’t forget to factor in your methods for resolving disputes. This can save you time and hassle in the future.
  • Generate a comprehensive succession plan that determines active and non-active roles for family members, establishes successors, and determine if additional support for that successor will be required from other family members. Documenting everyone’s role makes it easier.
  • Have both a business and owner estate plan. Don’t forget one or the other, as they are both important in a family business. Think about minimizing taxes and protecting assets together.
  • Determine the most appropriate avenue for transition. There are numerous options for buyouts or agreements, and this is something you definitely want to discuss with an attorney.

To learn more about how we can help clients with proper succession planning for a family business, call us at 732-521-9455 or send an email to info@lawesq.net.

Saving Taxes: Is a DING Trust Right For Me?

July 15, 2014

Filed under: Income Tax Planning,Taxes — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:25 pm

Like a lot of business planning strategies, it’s best that you meet with a legal professional to discuss the best tactics for your situation. One of those strategies might be a DING (Delaware Incomplete Non-Grantor Trust), a tool that is growing in popularity for managing and minimizing both federal and state income taxes. Especially for those individuals living in states with high income taxes, a DING trust is a powerful strategy for making the most of your assets without being so negatively impacted by taxes.

Saving Taxes Is a DING Trust Right For Me
(Photo Credit: america.schickhappens.net)

In a DING trust, a person can transfer assets (including some business interests) that produce a high level of income into a trust without triggering a state or federal gift tax. The state income taxes are actually transferred from the resident’s home state to a state where trust income is not taxed. There are several jurisdictions that have been used in the past for this purpose include Nevada, Delaware, and Alaska.

This type of trust is a great choice for someone who has significant portfolios that generate income or those individuals that live in a high tax state concerned about the tax implications of their assets. This form of asset protection gives peace of mind and confidence to those who use it. As of right now, New Jersey does not tax trust income if there are no resident trustees. Therefore, assets held in a DING trust may be exempted from high state income taxes (8.975% in New Jersey). For special tax planning, contact us for more details at info@lawesq.net or over the phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Common Reasons A Will Might Not Hold Up In Court

July 14, 2014

Filed under: Last Will & Testament,Living Will,Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 3:38 pm

Especially if you have taken it upon yourself to write your will, it’s important to know that you have opened your heirs up to the risk of having your will contested in court later on. Here are three of the most common mistakes that result in a contested will.

Common Reasons A Will Might Not Hold Up In Court
(Photo Credit: 8gr.org)

Disinheriting Family Members Sans Explicit Instructions

The law tends to treat the distribution of assets relatively fairly when there are questions about intention or mistakes in the handling of the will. So, if you’re stipulating that you want to leave an individual out altogether, you need to make sure those instructions are crystal clear. You want to have this written by an attorney to reduce that chances that you have given such an individual room to argue in court.

Using Biased Witnesses During Your Will Signing

In many circumstances, you need to sign your will in front of witnesses in order for it to be valid. These witnesses may later be called I court to state that they were present and to discuss whether the person signing the will (you) had the mental capacity to sign such a document without any undue influence or pressure from other parties.

Potentially Lacking Mental Capacity to Sign the Will

One of the reasons that heirs (or those excluded) will contest a will is under the ground that you did not have the mental capacity to understand what you were doing. You must understand what property you own, your overall plan for passing on property, and who you closest family members are. Furthermore, a Living Trust, which preserves privacy, may be an option for those with a stronger likelihood of a contest in their future.

To learn more about wills and estate planning documents, contact our professionals at 732-521-9455 or info@lawesq.net.

Hoteliers & Moteliers: What Security Challenges Do Today’s Hotel Owners Face?

July 11, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Captive Insurance Companies,Hospitality,Hotel Owners — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:23 pm

Hotel owners face a broad array of challenges when it comes to mitigating risks. Whether you’re a single motel or part of a chain, you need to be concerned with protecting and maintaining assets. You’ll need to be concerned with physical, human, and intangible assets.

Hoteliers & Moteliers What Security Challenges Do Todays Hotel Owners Face
(Photo Credit: e27.co)

Some of the major concerns that hotel owners are faced with include sabotage, natural disaster, injury, criminal activities, terrorism, and fire. On a more common basis, you might be concerned with injuries and claims or injuries on hotel property, or the theft of services or merchandise.

There’s no doubt that as a hotel owner, you frequently feel pulled in many different directions to deal with immediate problems and trying to prepare for the future. One of the best ways to reduce your risks is to consider whether a captive insurance company can help you with some of your concerns in the long run. Policies for a captive insurance company contain many of the same provisions as typical commercial insurance contracts but they go above and beyond by reinsuring your particular risk needs.

As an added benefit, maintaining control over that captive company may even give you investment control over assets for that company. If you’ve got risks that cannot be covered under the typical umbrella of a commercial insurance contract, you’ve got to look elsewhere. A captive insurance company may alleviate your concerns, protect your assets, and allow you to build a long-term plan. Email us at info@lawesq.net or call 732-521-9455 to begin.

Steps to a Viable Succession Plan For Your Family Business (Part 1)

July 10, 2014

Filed under: Business Law,Business Succession Planning,Family Business — Tags: , , — admin @ 3:01 pm

Are you planning to keep the Family Business “in the family”? Did you know that family businesses now make up as much as 50 percent of the gross domestic product of the entire country? We’re not just talking about small storefronts or website companies, either. Over one-third of Fortune 500 companies are controlled by families in some sense. It’s critical that as a small business owner, you plan ahead for the future with a succession plan. Here are some of the most common issues facing small business owners with a family connection.

Steps to a Viable Succession Plan For Your Family Business (Part 1)
(Photo Credit: merchantcircle.com)

  • Align your family interests: As members begin to retire or hand off control to other generations, the interest alignment of these individuals becomes all the more important.
  • Generational transitions: Think about the future, because only one third of all family businesses actually end up passing the business on to the second generation. You might want to have alternative plans.
  • Interfamily disputes have the potential to dominate family-owned businesses especially when perception of needs is not lined up between key players. This becomes even more complicated when there is a death or divorce involved.
  • Retirement income: A buyout agreement doesn’t have to be complex, but it is harder to do with a family business because retiring individuals might be more focused on a balance sheet rather than an earnings capitalization model.
  • Estate and inheritance issues: While individual planning is important, there should also be plans in place that relate to the business.

All of these issues are just a sample of concerns for those involved in a family business. Contact our office today to learn more about our Business Succession Planning practice. Email info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

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