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What You Need to Know About Private Family Trust Companies

February 9, 2016

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


Many individuals who are approaching the process of estate planning, they have several key concerns as it relates to putting together the materials that they need. These are usually controlled in flexibility, privacy and the type of governance structure that seems to work best with family trusts. Modern trust structures such as family private trust companies, trust protector companies and directed trusts allow families to infuse their desires with general trust planning. shutterstock_167842049

The amount of gifting by the wealthy into trusts has increased dramatically since 1995. In 1995, gifting went from 12.5% to 40% today. Other important statistics to know are that 70% of families will usually name their family members, friends and business colleagues as trustees of their trust. As more advisors and families become familiar with the operation of these modern trusts, their popularity is only expected to grow.

One of the most popular structures is the private family trust company, primarily used by those with a great deal of wealth. These trust structures give important planning solutions to articulate the family’s desires. If you would like to learn more about whether a particular trust makes the most sense for your family, consult with a New Jersey estate planning attorney today.

Estate Planning: What Do I Need Vs. What Can I Toss?

February 8, 2016

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

When you’re organizing your documents for estate planning purposes, you can also run the risk of keeping too many things, just as you might otherwise run the risk of keeping too little. Your beneficiaries and representatives should be able to identify what is important without becoming overwhelmed in the process. Read on to learn more about what you truly need. shutterstock_269046065

Things to Hold Onto Indefinitely

  • Marriage certificates
  • Current version of your will
  • Military discharge records
  • Birth certificates
  • Divorce papers
  • Tax returns

Things to Keep for One Year

  • Utility bills
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Investment statements


Things to Toss Out

  • ATM receipts
  • Credit card statements after you have proof of payment
  • Utility bills older than one year

Reducing your clutter and narrowing down what you keep to only the essentials can help you stay more organized and on top of your estate planning. Make sure you reach out to an experienced estate planning attorney in New Jersey when you need to put your materials together or discuss updating existing information. Having the insight of someone who can help you align your documents with your needs can be very beneficial.



Time to Sell Your Tech Company? Keep These Tips in Mind

February 5, 2016

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

There are many different factors that can trigger the discussion about selling your much-loved tech company: nervous investors, sudden success, industry consolidation, or burned-out founders. As you may approach this point what seems like suddenly, it’s a good idea to carve out some time to carefully thing about the strategy and process.

Be Realistic About the Valuation

The value of bringing in an outside person to value the company cannot be overstated. You need to have these expectations set as early as possible so that there is no confusion or disappointment down the line. A lot of tech companies gave factors outside of financial metrics to consider. Some of the elements that should be considered in a valuation are the value of your existing team, valuation activity in the space in general, and the possibility associated with outsized demand.

Set the Stage for the Company

There’s no point in talking about a sale unless you’re crystal clear on your processing. Financial statements should be clear and recently-produced. All documents for hiring purposes should also be clear and filed, such as non-compete agreements and IP contracts. shutterstock_252909271

Evaluate Funding Options

There are a wide range of investors available to tech startups: venture capital, angels, accelerators, crowdsourcing, and the list goes on. These all have different requirements and goals, so make sure you factor this into your exist as well.

Got questions about succession planning? Contact our office at

Preparing for Your First Estate Planning Meeting

February 4, 2016

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

Although your estate planning attorney can help you walk through the basics of your plans for the future, it’s also a good idea to be knowledgeable about how you can make the most of this first meeting. Read on to learn more about what you can do in advance to capitalize on this important planning opportunity. shutterstock_150136205

Put Together Your Assets/Liabilities List

It’s difficult to accomplish estate planning if you don’t know where you stand, so make the effort to clarify all of your assets as well as any debts.

Evaluate Personal Belongings 

For sentimental or other reasons, there may be things you want to leave behind to specific people. Knowing this in advance gives you the best chance to walk through what you want to leave behind to particular individuals.

Identify Potential Personal Representatives

You need to be able to count on someone else to help carry out your wishes once you pass away, and the selection of this person is an important step in your estate planning. It might be a good opportunity to have a discussion with this person before you have your estate planning meeting, which is why you should walk through your thought process long before you meeting with your estate planning attorney.

You likely need to identify someone to make medical decisions on your behalf as well as financial decisions. This could be the same person. Having a general idea before your meeting allows you to start the thought process early and then get the advice of an attorney.

Setting up an estate planning meeting as soon as possible is in your best interests, particularly if you have not broached any planning documents in the past. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help you at

Tech Company Top Succession Planning Tips

February 3, 2016

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

It’s not just tech companies that should pay attention to succession planning these days. In fact, increasing salary expectations, highly specialized skillsets, and lengthy searches for the ideal candidate are not isolated to the tech sector alone. With a major shift in demographics due to generational changes, a lot of companies are experiencing what’s known as a “leadership deficit”.

The good news is that with a little planning and foresight, leadership deficit doesn’t have to be a major challenge facing your tech company. shutterstock_331440044


First of all, don’t be afraid to break the mold when it comes to succession planning. Technology startup founders are usually the types to do it all, handling responsibilities like identifying additional markets, handling operations, leading development of strategy, and contributing to new technology. This means there are big shoes to fill when this person leaves.

Narrowing in on the skillsets you’ll need in the future, as opposed to those you used in the past, can help chart a better future for your company anyways. Beyond the start-up phase, it does not necessarily make sense to have a leader who handles everything. Keeping operational stability or attracting top talent, for example, may be more important qualities as the business evolves.

Succession planning is about more than who will replace the person at the top. Especially if the company ultimately goes public or is in a position to be acquired, management stability should be a common thread that goes throughout each of the units in the business.

Finally, don’t have a narrow scope for the pool of candidates. With the market the way it is, you should have multiple potential candidates to replace individuals in each position. This gives you some flexibility so that the unavailability of one candidate (or unrealistic salary expectations) don’t throw a wrench into your entire planning process.

Widow Forced to Get Court Order for Access to Husband’s Ipad

February 2, 2016

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

A recent case involving ownership of an Ipad highlights how important it is to plan ahead comprehensively in terms of your estate. While many people think big picture and have beneficiaries on a life insurance policy or plans for assets like a house, it’s important to minimize all potential challenges for your spouse or other beneficiaries. shutterstock_318321200

A woman in Canada has learned this message after her husband passed away last August. Together, the couple owned an Apple computer and an Ipad. Even though the woman knows the Ipad unlock code, she does not have the password for the Apple ID. Thinking that the death certificate and will would be enough proved an unfortunate perception, since Apple refuses to give her access to the password.

According to the widow, after a lot of back and forth with the tech giant, someone told her she needed a court order. Although this is an extreme case, it does tell a cautionary tale. Having instructions for all your personal items can help to prevent your beneficiaries from headaches like this one. Set up a meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss all the items you should consider in the estate planning process so as to minimize frustration for your loved ones.

Are You Forgetting About an Estate/Tax Time Bomb?

February 1, 2016

Filed under: Distribution of Assets — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

If you’re a parent and you have used the New Year to do some estate planning for the year ahead, it’s important to get the perspective of an attorney while you do it. This is because many parents have good intentions, but actually set up a ticking time bomb for their children if the proper tax planning hasn’t coincided with setting up the future of your estate. shutterstock_173714501

Taxes can be hefty when an asset is sold, and the amount of the tax depends a great deal of how the asset became the property of the heir.

One such example has to do with real estate: well-meaning parents might pass on a residence deed to their children to avoid probate or to protect it from impacting their ability to qualify for government long-term care services. The child who receives it, however, would not have paid the parents the fair market value for the property. This is why the house would be seen as a gift, and one that potentially necessitates a gift tax return. If a child inherits the home and later sells it, the difference between what the parents paid for it and the price it sold for could be taxed as income for the child.

Any major assets like this should be considered carefully, whether you intend to pass them on during your lifetime or after. The advice of an estate planning attorney can prove especially fruitful during this time.



Eight Extremely Smart Estate Planning Steps: Part 2

January 29, 2016

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

Setup Trusts

Transferring ownership by taking assets out of your individual control and putting them into a trust can be very beneficial. Living trust can be a very valuable tool for people who want to keep their affairs private as well. Speak with an estate planning attorney to learn more about your options here.shutterstock_199870811

Divvy Up Your Belongings

Your legacy may also leave behind stuff whether it’s heirloom, jewelry, or an art collection. This tangible personal property should be left behind clearly if you want individuals to have particular things. You should not count on your family members to get along enough to sort this out on their own.

Plan Ahead For Your Memorial

Pre-paying your funeral plan and personalizing your sendoff are several things that have become more popular in recent years. You are not limited to traditional planning either. This is your opportunity to determine what you want and to put it in writing.

Choose Cremation or a Burial

It is likely that you already have a strong sense of what you want in your own end-of-life plans. Make sure that this is documented so that there is no fighting among your loved ones.

Eight Extremely Smart Estate Planning Steps: Part 1

January 28, 2016

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

There are simply no excuses for avoiding the estate planning process, but knowing what steps you need to follow can be extremely helpful for getting over your concerns about conducting it. Read on to learn more about some of the most popular steps you should always take when thinking about your estate planning. shutterstock_307039916

Put Together a Will

Passing away without a will leaves it all up to the courts to determine what happens to your property. This can be confusing and the source of many delays for your loved ones, so it is better to put together a will sooner rather than later.

Factor in Life Insurance

Basic needs from your life insurance policy can be paid for if something were to happen to you. You can also plan ahead to help pay for a mortgage as well as special expenses like a college education.

Think About Your End of Life Documents

There are many different documents that you can use for the end of life planning process. These include advance directives, a durable power of attorney, and a release of information form. All or a combination of these forms can be helpful for you.

Avoid Probate

To the best extent that you can, it is always in your best interest to pass as much of your estate outside of probate is possible. Although the probate process is not extremely complicated it can be filled with many delays that tie up your estate and generate thousands of dollars in legal costs and other expenses. Few individuals want this for their beneficiary so it can be a good idea to avoid this by planning ahead from the start.

Estate Planning Tips: How to Protect Yourself in the Future from Financial Abuse

January 27, 2016

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

Individuals of any age could be subject to financial abuse but more it more often happens to elderly people. In order to avoid this impacting you down the road, there are several different things you can do. Begin by creating an inventory of all of your assets.shutterstock_121353820

This includes bank accounts, brokerage accounts, investments and retirement accounts. You can do this on your own or with a financial professional but you simply want to be aware of the various financial accounts that you have.

This makes it easier for an investor to know what you need to keep track of and is also a solid record for a trusted person to take over if you become compromised or incapacitated. There are also opportunities to simplify your financial affair management. One example could be consolidating all of your brokerage accounts that are currently spread across multiple firms. Rolling over your 401(k) s from previous employers into your current account is another way to keep everything simple and all together. Using these tips can help prevent you from becoming a victim of financial abuse in the future and it also makes things easier for someone who has been appointed to help you manage your affairs.

Does Sleep Have a Connection to Causing Alzheimer’s?

January 26, 2016

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

Everyone knows that it is imperative to get the right amount of sleep. As more research is being done about how to prevent Alzheimer’s or minimize the symptoms associated with conditions like this, new research has looked at how a lack of deep sleep can cause problems as far as Alzheimer’s itself. According to the research published on NPR, the brain clears out toxins that have been connected to Alzheimer’s during the sleep process.shutterstock_160066232

There is certainly a link between Alzheimer’s and sleep since the majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s have some kind of sleeping disorder. The same scientists who just completed this study are about to undertake a research process to learn more about the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep problems in humans.

If your elderly loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s and facing other challenges as a result of his or her aging process, you may be concerned about caregiving as well as the proper estate planning documents being in place. This is a great time to consult with an elder law and estate planning attorney to make sure that all of your bases are covered and that all critical issues have been considered by you and your loved one.

Tips for Selecting a Successor to Your Business

January 25, 2016

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


In many cases your business successor could be selected by default. If you have a family business, for example, there is likely one member who is more qualified, interested and active in the business than others.shutterstock_158522279

In this situation the founder might have already spent a good deal of time grooming the successor for this situation. In this particular case, the challenge for business succession planning has to do with treating the other siblings or non-participating family members equitably. Able founders need to be prepared for how to pass along their precious creation to successors who have worked hard to take on the risks associated with it.

If succession has not already been determined by birth order, interest or proximity, it may require a group effort to select and groom an individual. Individuals who are not family members could even be recruited onto this transition team. It is unlikely to be successful if you opt to divide power between competing children because it can generate a great deal of conflict and impact the business negatively in terms of finances and management. Careful business succession planning requires thinking about where you have come from, where you are now and where you would like the business to go, and then evaluating various individuals who may fit into the roles associated with that business.

Hillary Clinton Presents Plan for Estate Tax Increases

January 22, 2016

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

Hillary Clinton recently released a plan that would bring estate tax rates and exemptions back to 2009 levels. This would mean pushing down the maximum tax rate. Her plan would push the maximum tax rate to 45% from where it presently sits at 40%.shutterstock_287370860

Experts believe that this plan is an attempt to get better traction with liberals who have been putting their support behind Bernie Sanders instead. Sanders has been an outspoken critic of the current estate tax plans and requirements, alleging that significant increases need to be made to the maximum rate and the exemption should be cut dramatically as well.

While Clinton’s proposal has the potential to bring $150 billion in revenue across ten years, it would only impact 4 out of every 100 families which is why it is a popular option for individuals in the center and on the left who are looking to avoid higher taxes on the middle class.

What Does Physical Caregiving Have To Do With Elder Law Planning?

January 21, 2016

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

According to recent research and stories by the New York Times, more adult children are moving closer to their parents. If you live within 20 minutes of your aging parents then you can be seen as a typical American. Physical proximity can play a critical role when an elder family member needs caregiving.shutterstock_296020625

The median distance that Americans live from their mother is only 18 miles and it turns out that only 20 percent of individuals live more than a few hours’ drive away from their parents. The primary reason for focusing on women is that women tend to be caregivers more often. Caregiving goes both ways as an adult child may benefit from an elderly loved one babysitting their grandchildren, for example.

That being said, living close to your parents can be problematic even when you are just a couple of miles away, if your elderly loved one is experiencing advanced signs of aging. This is why it is imperative to consider all of your caregiving options and determine when Medicaid or other issues may kick in and help with this process. Speak with an elder law planning attorney today to learn more.

What Are The Pitfalls In Transferring Power In A Family Business?

January 20, 2016

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

There are many different issues that affect a family business such as climate, laws, technology, economic trends, competitors and employees. But the family business is also influenced by anything that impacts the family unit itself like skill levels, various interests of the stakeholders, marital status, the level of business participation for each person and the relative health of all members.shutterstock_165121328

Handling transfer of power while balancing this climate can seem like a juggling act. This is especially true if the founder is hesitant to give up control or if the successor is not well prepared or interested in accepting it. The major issues facing a family business owner looking to transfer power to others are timing the transitions, selecting the appropriate successor, managing inter-generational conflict, providing adequate training for the successor, and ensuring a smooth transition period.

All of these can be important for the family business owner who is looking to pass on his or her company. Even if you are not planning to pass on the family business for several years, it’s a good idea to have your plans in place now in case a sudden disability or death were to alter them.

New Fiduciary Rule Could Be Good For Investors In 2016

January 19, 2016

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


The stock market may be a little bit bumpy in 2016 but it looks like those who are focusing on retirement saving can benefit during this same period. This is because the US Department of Labor is applying the final touches to what’s known as a fiduciary rule that means a lot for anyone who has an individual retirement account or 401(k).shutterstock_47215390

This rule will alter the retirement advice business completely because it will mandate that insurance agents, brokers, banks and mutual fund companies all keep their fees low in order to protect your savings from excessive risk when you are receiving information about what to do next. One important thing to consider in relation to this regulation has to do with the case of J.P. Morgan Chase and Company. shutterstock_47215390

Right before the holidays, the biggest bank in the country agreed to pay more than $300 million to settle claims about advisors and brokers forcing clients into their own costly investment products over other options without making the required disclosures about this for conflict of interest.

According to those claims, J.P. Morgan additionally gave preference to hedge fund managers in a third party possession who paid placement fees for the market value of the client assets that were invested. It can put a drag on performance for the investor and ultimately hurt the investor tremendously, which is part of the reason this fiduciary rule is being considered to begin with.

Contact a New Jersey estate planning attorney today to get started with the planning process for your estate. Reach out to us at

What Estate Planning and Financial Planning Moves Should I Make Before 2017?

January 18, 2016

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

If you are one of the individuals who felt like the New Year came up far too quickly for you to accomplish your estate planning goals, you are not alone. The good news is that you can make some changes now in order to be prepared for when 2017 arrives. Getting ready now allows you to capitalize on the momentum for the new year and get these things accomplished before it’s 2017 already. shutterstock_94520029

Some of the most common ways that you can do this include giving to charity, making gifts to family, checking your beneficiaries, applying for social security, if applicable, setting up life insurance, and putting together a meeting to address powers of attorney, an updated will and your health care proxies. Looking at this initially can seem a little bit overwhelming especially if you feel like you were not able to accomplish your estate planning goals last year.

The good news is that setting up a meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney now gives you the remainder of 2016 to accomplish these goals. With someone who knows what they are doing, it should not take more than a couple of meetings to outline all of these details and to determine whether you need to update any other existing documents you may have related to your financial and estate planning. Consulting with a knowledgeable New Jersey estate planning attorney can also help you get all of your questions answered and assist you with clarifying some of your goals about estate planning in general.

S Corporations and Shorter Built-in Gains Periods

January 15, 2016

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

S corporations are most popular as a tax vehicle because it allows for only one layer of tax instead of the double layer of tax usually imposed on a typical corporation. Rather than the S corporation paying tax, the S corporation’s taxable income passes through to the shareholders and is reported on those shareholders’ personal tax returns.shutterstock_304978883

The corporation generally is able to distribute a company in profits to the shareholders free of federal taxes. To avoid corporations attempting to convert over to an S corporation and then sell their assets off, the internal revenue code mandates a 10 year built-in gains tax on S corporations. If the S corporation sells assets within this period, the corporate level tax normal rate is paid.

In early January, legislation was introduced to officially reduce this 10-year period down to 5 years, retroactive to tax year starting on January 1, 2015. For S corporations, this is great news and highlights an important time to return to your planning attorney to discuss your options.             

What You Need to Know About Rising Interest Rates and Estate Planning

January 14, 2016

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

The Federal Reserve’s most recent decision to increase interest rates does carry implications for individuals who are considered affluent. This mostly has to do with their estate planning. Interest rates can definitely impact strategies in place for minimizing estate taxes and maximizing the benefits associated with income tax bricks.shutterstock_313523747

Guarantor retained annuity trusts and intra family loans are two typical strategies that a family may want to consider implementing before interest rates go any higher. This is because both of these strategies have benefits when investment returns exceed what’s known as a hurdle interest rate based on the rates of the market.

A qualified personal residence trust, in addition, in order to pass on a vacation home or primary resident to heirs is also worth keeping in mind when interest rates go higher. The present value of the asset is lower in a higher interest rate environment and therefore the potentially taxable gift value is also lower. Make sure to consult with your estate planning attorney to learn more about what you need to know about rising interest rates and what you can do now to minimize the impacts of taxes in the long run.

Materials You Should Have Before Applying for Medicaid

January 13, 2016

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

After discussing your Medicaid application and preparing for it in advance with your elder law attorney, there may be an appropriate time you should begin the application process. There are several things you should know about the Medicaid application process in order to set yourself up for success.


One of the things that surprises most elderly individuals and their caregivers is the amount of documentation required for a Medicaid application. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to submit this information and in the proper order so that you do not have any unnecessary delays associated with the application. The following items should be included with your application.

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage information
  • Social security award letter or social security card
  • Information about all loans owed
  • A copy of a residential rental agreement (if applicable)
  • Health insurance premiums and identity cards
  • All unpaid medical bills
  • Alimony statements or child support statements
  • Any cars owned
  • Pay stubs over the last six weeks
  • details of any pension plans where benefits are being received
  • Copies of tax return for the last five years
  • All life insurance statements and policies including any cash value accumulated within these policies

As you can see, the Medicaid application process can be quite extensive and may be a bit overwhelming. Planning in advance of options you have with your assets as well as qualifying for Medicaid can be an important first step to discuss with an elder law attorney.

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