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Made in China – Now What? A Dilemma in Local Vs Global Production

October 21, 2016

Filed under: Estate Planning — admiln @ 9:32 am

I can’t tell you how many times I get emails from people that ask what I was thinking when I began selling a bottle or other products made in China. They would say, “How green can a product be that is shipped half way around the world from a country known for its shoddy workmanship?” I have to tell you this was a hard one for me as I very much love to buy U.S. made products as well as strive to purchase them as locally as possible. My company has been researching and looking for bottles made anywhere but China, to no avail. EVERY stainless bottle made is made in China, plus most of the plastic and aluminum ones as well.

Don’t be deceived by the one brand of bottles that claim to be made in Europe. They are made from aluminum and lined with some kind of nondescript plastic coating on the inside to protect us from the aluminum leaching. I also have seen a non-labeled brand of aluminum bottles at one of the big box stores. It kind of defeats the purpose of a benign metal bottle if the aluminum is leaching into our water.

Speaking to the greenness of a bottle from China — Living a green lifestyle these days can be a very complicated series of choices, with each one representing a tradeoff going from not too green to extreme green. My question more often than not is what am I really supposed to be doing to live a green lifestyle? Remember that none of this is absolute and that, as in most things in life, there are a series of tradeoffs involved with this process.

Thinking through the impact of water bottles on our environment, let’s consider the stainless steel water bottle. From a health, environmental and financial perspective the stainless water bottle solution is a great one. The upside considerations include health, environment and pocketbook benefits:

When drinking from a stainless steel rebar bottle you get clean BPA- and chemical-free water, unlike the plastic bottle alternatives that leach these harmful chemicals into your drinking water.
Each time you refill your bottle you eliminate the need to dispose of a plastic bottle, reducing the environmental impact and helping to protect our landfills, oceans, parks and recycle bins.
Then there is the impact to our pocketbook. By using a stainless steel water bottle you save yourself 50 cents to $2.00 or more each time. This ROI (Return On Investment) adds up fast considering your initial stainless steel water bottle investment of $10 – $20.
Now there are the down-side considerations:

All stainless steel rebar bottles are made in China or India. This means that the bottles are manufactured there and shipped by boat to the U.S.
Concerns about the working conditions in Chinese factories.
There is an abundance of stainless steel and China manufacturing info. out there. Become educated and informed on the issue, so you are able to make as informed a decision as possible.

Benefits of Advanced Medicaid Planning

October 20, 2016

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

Having a loved one experience a health event that may prompt more intensive care presents a lot of unique challenges for all family members. It can be a confusing and frustrating time with limited decision-making options. Given the rules regarding the Medicaid look-back period, it can be difficult to maximize asset protection and get the most out of planning ahead for Medicaid. 

The reality is that for many families, the first time they consider Medicaid planning is during a time when it’s too late to make advanced planning strategies work. No one wants to think about health deterioration for a loved one or themselves, however, doing so can help to ensure that someone does not have to spend down their own assets in significantly prior to qualifying for Medicaid.

Meeting with an attorney years before considering Medicaid has a lot of benefits. It allows you to consider how you’ll handle your assets now and increases the chances that you’ll be able to pass on assets to loved ones while also having some peace of mind about your own health needs. If you’re nearing retirement age, now is a good time to have an initial consultation about advanced Medicaid planning. This is because you’ll have more options and be able to have greater flexibility with your choices.

New Study Says Half of Americans Think Estate Planning Not for Them

October 19, 2016

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

A new study from Wealth Counsel reveals that half of Americans believe estate planning is not for them and that it’s only for the extremely wealthy. These individuals assume they don’t have enough assets in order to reap any benefits from the estate planning process. Only 46 percent of people in the U.S. think that a trust would be a necessary component in their estate plans. Often, a trust is a key component in estate planning as it adds more control and privacy to any estate, regardless of size. 

This is combined with the fact that more than one-third of people in the country admit to not even having a will. Of those, 37 percent say that they have not had the conversation about their estate planning with family members due to the perception of lack of assets. Nearly another 30 percent of those respondents believe that there’s no real benefit in putting together an estate plan at all.


The reality is that people of all income and asset brackets can benefit from estate planning. Whether it’s basic tools like a will that help to clarify things for loved ones after you pass away or documents that ensure your financial matters or healthcare wishes are taken care of if you become incapacitated  are worthwhile endeavors.

If you have questions about how estate planning can help you, contact an experienced lawyer today to learn more.

Remarrying? Update Those Planning Docs!

October 18, 2016

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

There’s a strong chance that your wedding checklist does not include a trip to your estate planning lawyer, but there’s a good reason it should: remarriage shifts the family dynamics and your new documents should reflect this new makeup. Many individuals in the U.S. are facing the prospect of a second or third marriage.

In fact, according to a Pew Research Center report, 40 percent of marriages in 2013 alone were remarriages for one or both spouses. The stats for failing to create or update an estate plan are even more problematic. As much as 63 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t even have a will, and nearly ten percent have an outdated one. NJ estate planning lawyer

This combination of outdated or nonexistent documents and a new marriage can present a conundrum. If something happens to you, the old valid documents will still hold, even if they give power of attorney or property over to a former spouse.

If you’re getting married, there are plenty of things to celebrate, but don’t let your planning opportunities go out the window. It’s a critical time to update your documents and ensure that you have everything in line for your new family dynamics and individual needs. Contact a New Jersey estate planning lawyer to learn more.


Guarding Against Incapacity: Documents You Need

October 17, 2016

Filed under: Advanced Directives — Neel Shah @ 1:19 pm

It’s Estate Planning Awareness Week and a good opportunity to remember that estate planning is about more than what happens when you pass away. It’s also about what happens during your lifetime. Should you become suddenly incapacitated, would you have someone to step in and help with your affairs? 

Two key documents are worth considering in this process. When you plan properly, you can help to protect your assets and estate while you’re still alive. The first document to consider is a durable power of attorney. This allows someone else to manage your affairs if you were to become unable to do so as a result of a disability or other issue. This person can pay bills for you, direct investments, or file taxes when you are unable to do it.

The other document you should keep in your arsenal is an advanced medical directive. This means someone else can make medical decisions on your behalf. You can talk more with your New Jersey estate planning lawyer about how these work and how to choose someone to serve in this role.

Shah & Associates Named 10 Best for Client Satisfaction

October 14, 2016

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


As a dedicated estate planning and asset protection planning law firm in NJ, we frequently credit our clients with the longstanding reputation we have earned in the area. We know that your planning needs are important to you and it’s always been our goal as a firm to meet and exceed your expectations. Whether we’ve just met you or have been working with you for years, it’s our mission to serve you personally and help to suggest strategies and tactics most aligned with your individual needs.


That’s why we are so thrilled to have been named as one of the 10 Best in the Estate Planning Division by the American Institute of Legal Counsel. While the long relationships we have with our clients, the referrals to others, and the thanks we receive from clients like you are our favorite part of business, being awarded from an outside party also carries its own excitement. We hope to continue to serve you and your families with the same compassion and vigor we’ve come to be known for since founding this office.


It’s truly a privilege to get to work with all of our wonderful clients in New Jersey and we hope to continue to be part of your estate planning process for many years to come. Thank you for making what we do so enjoyable!

Protect Your Digital Assets

October 12, 2016

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

You have probably spent a fair amount of time accumulating things in your life. A home, a vehicle, books, music, photos, family collections and heirlooms and even antiques. When you put together your estate plan, you’ll articulate a plan for all these items.

It’s just as important, however, to have a plan for your digital assets. If you’re backing all your photos up to the cloud, for example, would your loved ones be able to access those precious pictures? According to a statistics company, there are nearly 2 billion users on Facebook alone. Amazon has 310 million users. Online accounts, digital assets, and profiles are becoming increasingly popular, but it’s a common oversight to forget about planning for these. 

Thankfully, working with an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you determine how to protect all of the assets in your life, digital or not. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting about all the valuable things you own. It might not be easy to remember these, but there is sentimental value attached to online accounts. Likewise, you may have specific issues about how you want these accounts handled after you pass away. With your estate planning attorney, you can accomplish all of your goals.



Estate Planning and Thoughtful Parenting

October 11, 2016

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

One of the most common reason for someone to set up a meeting with an estate planning attorney is due to the birth of a new child. This should not, however, be the last time you set aside time to meet with a lawyer. Active parenting involves helping your children achieve their goals, but you should also be thinking about how your own planning opportunities can address your child’s needs.

Aside from wills, which allow you to stipulate what happens to your property and to name a guardian for your minor children, you may also want to consider using a trust, which empowers you to have some control over the distribution of property. You may also gain some privacy benefits from using a trust.

You need a formal plan to help address your long-term goals and this can be an important part of thoughtful parenting. As a new parent, it can be challenging to think about the future in which you may not be around, but doing this planning now can help avoid problems down the road. In an ideal world, you will not need to worry about the guardian named for your child. However, it can give you a lot of peace of mind knowing that someone has been tapped to play a critical role in your child’s life just in case.

Contact your experienced estate planning attorney in NJif you have questions about how the process works and how you can benefit.

How Many Years Has it Been Since You Updated Your Estate Plan?

October 10, 2016

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

Was the last time you took a look at your estate plan when your kids were born? Perhaps when you got your first mortgage and began to accumulate the assets which would ultimately become a part of your estate.

By now, though, those children may be adults. If it’s been quite some time, those children may even have children of their own. It’s especially important to update your comprehensive estate plan if the only document inside yours presently is a basic will. 

As life evolves, your estate plan may get more complex. You may need to determine different strategies to help with your overall goals and as your intended beneficiaries change. Often, it’s these older documents from decades ago that may raise questions about validity in court.

Estate planning doesn’t have to be difficult. Instead, you can benefit from an annual meeting with your estate planning lawyer to walk through whether your plans are still helping you meet your intended goals. Your lawyer can help you evaluate current plans and suggest new strategies for accomplishing your wishes.

Set up a meeting today to learn more about why you need to update your plan and to ensure that you have something that works for you for years to come.

How Divorce Affects Your Estate Planning

October 6, 2016

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

If you’ve previously used one estate planning attorney for both you and your spouse, it may be a new opportunity to shop around and identify the appropriate New Jersey estate planning lawyer to help you after getting divorced. There are many different ways that a divorce can change your landscape and it is imperative to work with an attorney who understands how divorce can change your estate planning goals.

There are also benefits to speaking with a financial professional as well since all property divided associated with a divorce is a non-taxable event even though the cost basis of the holding does carry over. There are also unique concerns associated with retirement assets and how these can be incorporated into your estate planning goals. Updating all of your beneficiary information and documentation that previously listed your spouse as a power of attorney agent, for example, is strongly recommended.

Speaking with a lawyer immediately after your divorce is final is strongly recommended but you may also benefit from speaking with someone in the months leading up to your final divorce decree. Understanding the many different ways that divorce can impact your life can ensure that your new documents and plans are in line with your different life arrangements after ending your marriage.


3 Key Frequently Forgotten Estate Planning Benefits

October 5, 2016

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

There are three major benefits to getting your estate planning done in a timely manner that are not often talked about. Read on to learn more. 

Achieving Your Goals

A living trust gives you some flexibility to accomplish your goals and have some say over how the situation unfolds. A living trust, for example, allows you to include clauses about condition under which a person can receive access to assets. You might allow that someone gets assets after they complete their education.

Take Advantage of Best Decision Opportunities

It is a lawyer’s duty to walk the client through all the available options and determine the most appropriate strategy for you. One size does not fit all in terms of estate planning and your lawyer can help recommend what’s best for you.

Focusing on Growth

The best strategy for ensuring that your property is managed by capable individuals is to use a trust and select the right person to serve in the role of trustee. With your living trust, you can select someone to determine management tips in the event that you are unavailable.

If you’re ready to start the process of getting the maximum benefits from estate planning, contact a New Jersey lawyer today.

Tips for Helping an Elderly Loved One with Fading Mental Competency Prepare Their Estate Planning

October 4, 2016

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

Both estate planners and financial advisors work with a broad range of clients. Elderly and aging clients, however, can present unique challenges in the event that mental competency is an issue. One of the greatest challenges for individuals in this situation is in having loved ones contest the validity of a will or other estate planning documents after the loved one has passed away as a result of this reduced mental competency.

There are three critical questions that need to be answered when putting together an estate plan for someone who has competency issues. These include:

  • Do clients generally know what their assets are?
  • Do the clients easily recognize the names of close family members?
  • Is the client capable of creating a plan to distribute those assets?

Meeting these three basic criteria for competency can still be challenging as a family member trying to help a loved one put together his or her estate planning. Partnering with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney who is knowledgeable about these issues and can help advise you and answer questions throughout the process is strongly recommended. While it is ideal to have estate planning documents put together before someone’s mental competency or cognitive disorders affect them severely, speaking with an attorneyis always recommended.


New Jersey State Estate Tax May Soon Disappear

October 3, 2016

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

According to a recent compromise with Chris Christie and New Jersey Governments, the New Jersey estate tax will likely soon be repealed by 2017. Many professionals across the state helping individuals with estate and financial planning believe that this is a long overdue change and that New Jersey is actually behind the times by keeping the state estate tax.

Remember that putting together your estate planning is about more than just considering tax implications. You should also consider legacy planning, long term care issues, and critical documents that help protect you while you’re alive as well as provide instructions for passing things on to your beneficiaries after you pass away. To accomplish all of these goals it is necessary to have a strong relationship with an existing New Jersey estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney will keep you abreast of any changes in the law so that you can adjust your estate planning documents as needed.

As life changes, you will also need to revise these documents and consider how various life events will impact the current plans you have structured. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney today.


The Power of a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney

September 29, 2016

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

There’s a good chance you have some opinions one way or another about what you want to do with your estate planning, but this should still be discussed with your estate planning attorney in New Jersey. Finding a qualified attorney is very valuable for ensuring that you get all your questions answered promptly. 

Looking for a qualified attorney in your local area allows you to form a relationship with this professional and to continue to meet with him or her on an ongoing basis. One way to identify the right attorney is to ask friends or colleagues for referrals. If you have unique situations that might influence how your planning unfolds, you need to discuss this with your lawyer. Small business owners, parents of children with special needs, and blended families will all have their specialized needs that should be addressed by a lawyer.

Make sure you set up an initial consultation and ask pertinent questions about the attorney’s experience. Some of the recommended questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing?
  • How many clients have you helped?
  • What proportion of your practice is devoted to estates?
  • How do you charge for your services?
  • Do you have experience with my individual concerns?
  • Do you help clients with tax planning?

If you’re ready to hire an experienced lawyer to help with your estate planning, contact a New Jersey estate planning attorney today.

Clinton and Trump Estate Tax Proposals

September 28, 2016

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

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump unsurprisingly have completely different plans for the country’s estate tax. While Trump wants to kill the estate tax, Clinton hopes to increase it. However, experts believe that any changes made to the policy will have a minimal impact on tax receipts under the Clinton proposal. This is because the estate taxes had a minimal contribution to revenue over the last several years.

Research from the IRS indicates that the estate tax generated a total of $16.4 billion in 2014, but that is a significant decrease from 2006 when the revenue was $24.6 billion. When compared with years gone by, the revenue from the estate tax has decreased even further. For example, up to 8% of all debts resulted in triggering the estate tax in 1976. However, in 2011, that number dropped to 0.13%. Estate taxes in total make up less than 1% of the country’s revenue as shared by The Tax Foundation.

The number of exemptions is the leading reason behind the decline for revenue. In 1976 the states were responsible for paying taxes on anything valued more than $60,000, however, the threshold today is at $5.5 million for individual estates. The highest estate tax rate has also decreased. The 1981 numbers were 71% but that dropped to 55% in 2000 and is now sitting at 40% today.


Think Beyond the Will for Optimal Estate Planning

September 27, 2016

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

When it comes to the process of financial or estate planning, the focus will usually be on preparing you for the future. There are certainly several different aspects of this, including deciding the best time to select Social Security, putting together a will and thinking about how taxes will influence your future.

There is one exception, however, and that is estate planning. Estate planning focuses solely on you and helps to give you greater peace of mind and security about your future.

Although the elements of financial planning will primarily benefit you, the purpose of estate planning is to benefit charities and other loved ones long into the future. This can make a critical different when thinking about the differences between estate and financial planning. In order to address uncertainty, you need to think beyond the will.

Certainly, the will is the foundational element of your estate plan but it’s not the only factor your need to consider. Your estate may be more complex than you think and you may need to have a trust as well as powers of attorney, healthcare directives or guardian designations. Speaking with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney is the only way to ensure that you have covered all of your bases.


Add Estate Planning Review to Retirement Checklist

September 26, 2016

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

Approaching retirement involves a careful calculation of several different numbers- what you’ll be bringing in from any pensions, when you’ll leave your position for good, and when you should elect to receive Social Security. Don’t overlook the calculations about what will happen to your assets after you pass away, however.

Thinking about death is not something that’s top of mind for anyone, but it’s also critically important and worthwhile. In addition to putting together a will, you may have more assets than you think, necessitating a conversation with your New Jersey estate planning attorney about how you’ll plan for taxes and whether it makes sense to use a trust.

A healthcare proxy and powers of attorney are good tools to have just in case, too. Far too many people don’t realize just how common a disability-related event can be. Without the proper tools in place, you can make it difficult for family members to understand your wishes and to carry them out.

Likewise, even if you are drawing from a retirement account, make sure the beneficiary information is fully up to date. You may need to evaluate this a few times over the course of your retirement as life changes, but set up a meeting with your estate planning attorney to talk about all the documents you need to have in order to address your full estate planning needs.

What Business Owners Should Consider for Estate Planning

September 22, 2016

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

After putting in all the hard work to get your business off the ground, it can seem like a good time to take a break from planning. After all, who wants to think about the end when you’ve just made it to the beginning? The ones most likely to skip out on estate and business succession planning are young business owners who consider themselves to have few assets.

Although it might seem counterintuitive, taking the steps to conduct estate and business succession planning early on is strongly recommended. Business owners forget that assets like retirement plans and group life insurance can be classified as part of your estate. This means that if someone dies without a will, state laws determine where those assets will go rather than the former owner. This can lead to unintended outcomes, like a young business owner’s parents, receiving all the assets. 

Bear in mind that death is not the only reason someone might exit a business. It’s essential to partner with an experienced attorney to discuss what happens if a partner or a shareholder exits the business due to disability, for example, all the same questions will be raised about transferring management or other responsibilities. Without proper planning, there can also be unintended tax consequences, too. Having a clear plan to outline what should happen when any partner or essential stakeholder needs to step out of the business suddenly.

Without a proper plan, all of the hard work that went into establishing and growing your business can come to a screeching halt. This can be extremely problematic and can even impact the company’s ability to get things organized quickly.

Ready to get a plan in place for your company to minimize transition headaches? Contact an experienced New Jersey business succession lawyer today to learn more.



Improve Your Estate Planning Goals with Charitable Bequests

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

Everyone has three primary types of capital in their estate – legacy capital which will be passed on to heirs, social capital which goes to society, and personal capital which supports a lifestyle. For the majority of individuals doing their estate planning, their social capital would go to the IRS and the US government is then responsible for determining how it is used.

Many people are under the impression that if they leave money to a charity when they pass away that it will minimize their family’s inheritance. However, if you work with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can incorporate philanthropy in your estate planning and in many cases, redirect money that might currently be directed to the IRS due to lack of planning back to your family and charities that you care about.

Advanced planning can be extremely valuable in this situation because the timing of a charitable bequest can make a big difference for everyone involved. Consulting with your estate planning attorney about the charities that you intend to support is strongly recommended.

When an Inheritance Passes Outside the Family, What Concerns Are Raised?

September 20, 2016

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

Any time that someone who is not related by blood is named as a beneficiary of an asset, lawsuits are a potential concern. When you are thinking about giving assets to someone who is not a relative, you need to be extremely careful and consult with a knowledgeable attorney.

One of the primary reasons that red flags are raised about leaving assets to anyone outside of the family has to do with elder financial exploitation which has been on the rise in recent years. Even in the event that a beneficiary or even the person granting the gift has pure motives, this could still raise questions when the estate is being probated.

Naming someone other than a natural heir as an estate beneficiary can bring forth a wide range of emotions from confusion to suspicion to anger especially because the majority of individuals in America will leave behind assets to a charity or loved ones who are related by blood.

One of the best ways to address this situation if you do plan to leave assets to someone outside the family is to have someone stipulate to your mental capacity at the time of making the will. Consulting with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney to ensure that your document is legally valid is essential as well.

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