September, 2014 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Business Law Blog
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Lessons from the Joan Rivers Estate

September 30, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning,Beneficiaries,Estate Administration,Estate Planning For Business Owners,Estate Taxes,Home Probate,Pets,Probate,Trusts — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 9:28 pm

Joan Rivers was heralded as a stellar performer, but she also left behind a legacy as an incredible businesswoman. Her estate included income, collectibles, and real estate that was estimated in value between $150 million and $250 million. She left behind detailed instructions for her assets after her death, which is rare in a society when many celebrity deaths highlight the weaknesses of their estate plans. Photo Credit: breitbart.com

Looking at her careful planning, there are a few key lessons: be prepared for the unexpected, outline plans for pets, and correctly title the assets. Joan Rivers was also masterful in giving her family a brief overview of the estate plans to help improve clarity and reduce the possibility of arguments. Rivers made use of family trusts to reduce the tax burden for her beneficiaries and titled her assets

appropriately to allow for the smooth transition of business assets. This act alone helped to diminish her capital gains taxes.

Regardless of the size of your estate, proper planning allows you to pass on assets to your heirs in the most efficient manner while minimizing the tax liability. Contact our offices today for a consultation for your business and personal needs through email at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Should I Worry About Protecting My IRA?

September 29, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Asset Protection Planning,IRA,Retirement Planning — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 9:02 pm

This past June, an important ruling from the Supreme Court found that an inherited IRA is not protected as retirement funds. If a beneficiary of inherited IRA funds files for bankruptcy, the funds they inherited could be subject to creditor claims.

Photo Credit: breitbart.com

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This new finding highlights the value of a trust. If the inherited IRA funds were received by a beneficiary though a trust, this would help to protect those funds so that they could be used in the manner desired by the person setting up

the beneficiaries. One such example is the use of a Standalone Retirement Trust, where inherited funds flow to a third-party trust after the retirement plan owner passes away. While the beneficiary still retains access to the funds, the fact that he or she didn’t create the trust allows quite a bit of protection for the beneficiary.

There are some states where laws on the books do protect inherited retirement accounts from creditors, but it’s always wise to consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss best structures for passing down assets. To learn more about your options, send us an email at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

New After-Tax Rollover Rules For Your 401(k)

September 26, 2014

Filed under: Retirement Planning,Taxes — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 8:47 pm

New rules for your 401(k) could actually end up benefitting you. If you have saved after tax money in your 401(k) retirement account, it can be rolled over to a Roth IRA. While in the Roth IRA, your money will grow on a tax free basis instead of a tax deferred basis. You’ll avoid having to pay pro rata taxes on your distribution, too.

Photo Credit: visionarywealthmgmt.com

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This new change creates an opportunity for planning. Prior to this new rule, advisors had to use complex planning tools to address client concerns. Taxpayers were required to roll over their entire 401(k) and use outside funds at the time to manage the 20% income tax withholding amount. The new rule, however, gives people without the cash on hand to replace dollars that were already withheld through a distribution.

In order to capitalize on this new rule, it’s important to understand that the distributions must be scheduled at the same time or they will be treated as separate, causing the mix of pre-tax and post-tax dollars. While the official rules begin on January 1, 2015, taxpayers can make use of them now since the rules were issued on September 18, 2014. In the past the IRS has allowed taxpayer relief based on a “reasonable interpretation” standard.

To learn more about the best strategies for your 401(k) and other retirement accounts, contact our offices for a personalized consultation. Request an appointment via email at info@lawesq.net or over the phone 732-521-9455.

Busting Common Trust Myths

September 25, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 2:13 pm

Used properly, a trust can be the right tool for managing or transferring your assets. Here are three common myths about trusts to help you get the truth.

Busting Common Trust Myths

(Photo Credit: mythbustersreviewusa.blogspot.com)

Trusts Are Too Complicated

Some believe that trusts take too much work in order to get the most out of them. Assets have to be moved into the trust, usually using a formal designation of ownership from one or more people into the trust. If assets are not precisely retitled, surviving family members might have to go through probate anyways. Avoiding probate is one common reason to use a trust. The bottom line is that trusts don’t have to be that complicated if you structure them properly under the guidance of an experienced attorney.

Only Rich People Need Them

Even if you’re of limited means, there could be benefits to using a trust. Avoiding probate by paying the upfront costs to hire an estate planning attorney to draft your trust could be well worth the payoff in the long run. Trusts can make it much easier for your beneficiaries to receive the assets you’d like them to have.

You Don’t Need a Trust Until Death

A trust developed during your life can outline your plans for handling your affairs if you were to become incapacitated. There are big long term advantages to setting up a trust that works for you while you are still alive.

Interesting in putting together a trust? Call us at 732-521-9455 or through email at info@lawesq.net to begin.

What Qualifies as a Digital Asset?

September 24, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Asset Protection Planning — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 8:33 pm

One of the biggest buzzword phrases in estate planning today is “digital asset”. But what does that mean, and how should you plan for it? Does everyone have digital assets? What happens if you fail to plan? These are all great questions, and this brief article will provide you with some details about how to approach this new concern.

Photo Credit: dupage-county-lawyer.com

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You’ll want to identify your digital assets before you set up plans for them. These might include:

  • Domain names/hosting rights
  • Credit card accounts
  • Debts
  • Email
  • Storage
  • Financial and banking account
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Securities
  • Utility accounts
  • Social media
  • Online loyalty accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Tax accounts
  • Insurance accounts

As you can see, you very well could have quite a few digital assets. When outlining your list, include the account number, usernames, and passwords. You can store this on a hard media source or through the use of an online program. There will be numerous passwords, especially when it comes to accessing a device, the operating system, opening documents, etc. This way your account information is kept secure.

To manage these accounts, you need a digital fiduciary. It’s easiest if this is the same person who is serving as your will executor, trustee, or agent through a power of attorney. That individual would manage identifying the digital assets, copying or deleting information, and distributing the asset to the intended person.

Without a digital asset plan, your digital information could be forever lost. Even family photos that you have saved on a hard drive could be difficult to access without specific instructions. To learn more about comprehensive planning for all your assets, contact us at 732-521-9455 or through email at info@lawesq.net to begin.

 

 

 

 

Distinguishing Non-probate and Probate Assets

September 23, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 2:08 pm

Ensuring that your will is properly written and structured is critical for the will’s terms to be carried out in the manner you wish. Failing to properly distinguish probate from non-probate assets is a big mistake that could lead to your dispositive provisions being named ineffective.

Distinguishing Non-probate and Probate Assets

(Photo Credit: wills.about.com)

Probate property can be defined as items that are directly owned by you without a legally recognized designated beneficiary. Jewelry, family heirlooms, artwork, or bank accounts without a designated beneficiary to be paid on death are examples of probate property.

On the other hand, non-probate property is those assets which include a legally recognized beneficiary to be paid on your death. Property held in joint tenancy or bank accounts with a designated beneficiary are examples.

Why does this matter? Non-probate assets will not pass through the terms of the will. This means that if you outline wishes in your will for one person to receive all the assets, but your non-probate assets state another beneficiary, the terms of your will “surrender” to those beneficiary designations. This could have the unintended consequence of your planning falling through.

To learn more about the differences with assets, and how you can properly outline your wishes or create trusts to detail how these items are passed on, contact our offices today for a consultation. Call us at 732-521-9455 or through email at info@lawesq.net to begin.

Summer Wrap Up: Estate Planning For Your Vacation Homes

September 22, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection — Tags: , — Neel Shah @ 2:03 pm

The close of another summer is a great time to think about your future plans for any family-owned vacation homes. It can be really hard to sell a property where it requires approval from all children, and it’s often difficult to make these “equally split” arrangements work.

Summer Wrap Up Estate Planning For Your Vacation Homes

(Photo Credit: gsacpas.com)

Start by thinking about your goal for the home: do you want it sustained for future generations, do you want it to become the property of just one or two children, or do you not have anyone to establish as the asset recipient at all? These are important questions that will help guide the future of your vacation home.

Trusts can be a great way to manage the future of vacation homes. They can be used to help pay for expenses or create a usage schedule, which is especially helpful when there could be multiple owners. To figure out the proper amount to put aside for expenses, you can create a list of what’s needed on an annual basis, including property taxes, insurance, routine maintenance, and repairs. This can help to eliminate arguments later on.

In the trust, it’s also important to outline the rules under which the house can be sold. This should be done even if there are no immediate plans to sell the house. Talk with an estate planning attorney to determine the best way to structure your vacation home future plans and possible trust. Reach out to us at info@lawesq.net or over the phone at 732-521-9455.

When LLC Members Pass Away: What Are Executor Rights?

September 18, 2014

Filed under: Business Law,Business Planning,Business Succession Planning,Estate Planning For Business Owners,LLCs — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 9:36 pm

A recent case highlights some of the questions surrounding the situation mentioned in the title. According to the default rule in New York, the death of a member doesn’t trigger a dissolution of the LLC unless the survivors vote to take action on dissolving.

There are a few important outcomes of this new default rule, known as 701b in the New York LLC law. First, executors only have limited powers in their ability to exercise member rights or to become members themselves. Second, family members who inherit a deceased member’s interests are not admitted for official membership unless those other members consent to this. Third, without such consent, the inheriting family member retains only economic interest, not management or voting powers. Finally, these individuals can be considered non-members and do not have any decision making authority when it comes to judicial dissolutions or mergers and consolidations.

One example of this rule in action is the Budis case. An executor-husband of his late wife had his case dismissed against other LLC members for lack of standing. The operating agreement stated that the death of a member was seen as a voluntary withdrawal, and the estate thus became an interest holder but not a member per se. The solution is to include something in the operating agreement stating that a family member or executor inheriting the deceased’s LLC interest should be treated as a member of the LLC with all rights and powers afforded to other LLC members. To learn more about protecting your interests in an LLC, contact us today info@lawesq.net or via phone at 732-521-9455

When to Use a Family LLC

September 17, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Estate Planning,Estate Taxes,Family Limited Partnerships,Family LLCs — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 9:24 pm

Most people have heard about LLCS, but you might not be aware of the best situations to use them when it comes to your family. Essentially, a family LLC is an estate planning tool for holding assets or transferring them to succeeding generations.

The people most likely to use a family LLC are those individuals who want to keep family assets together and intact, managed only by a limited number of people. As an LLC manager, you’re in control while you’re alive, but you can also exercise control in selecting who will manage the LLC after you pass away.

If your family has rental real estate, it’s a good option to use a family LLC. You can manage it during your lifetime, and then at your death a portion of the LLC managing that real estate goes to your children. This limits the opportunity for children to argue after you have passed away about who is entitled to what.

Another benefit of a family LLC is that you can gift it during your lifetime. Without having to worry about other members signing off on your decisions, you can sell, lease, or buy assets while you are still alive. This gives you control while you are still present with opportunities for your heirs to manage the LLC after you are gone.

Interested in learning more about Family LLCs or other family entities? Send us an email at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Self-Employment Tax and K-1 Income: What You Need to Know

September 16, 2014

Filed under: Business Law,Business Planning,Income Tax Planning,LLCs — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 9:21 pm

What happens if you receive a K-1 from an LLC and there are self-employment earnings listed on line 14? Are you responsible for reporting those as subject to the self-employment tax? The self-employment tax is an additional payment of 15.3% to account for Medicare and Social Security. We’re taking a page from the Tax Times blog today to talk about this issue. For the most part, a taxpayer’s portion of ordinary income from partnerships (including LLC’s) reported on a K-1 is indeed subject to the self-employment tax. There are, of course, exceptions. This requires the assistance of an experienced team of accountants and tax attorneys, since the solution for you likely depends on your individual circumstances, the state of formation for the LLC and whether the LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity. In any case, it could be worth your while to discuss this issue with a trained professional to learn whether you are liable for the self-employment tax or not. To learn more about complicated tax issues and reporting of self-employment income, contact our offices at 732-521-9455 or through email at info@lawesq.net. Self-Employment Tax and K-1 Income: What You Need to Know

Self-Employment Tax and K-1 Income: What You Need to Know

Filed under: Business Law,Business Planning — Tags: — Neel Shah @ 2:49 pm

What happens if you receive a K-1 from an LLC and there are self-employment earnings listed on line 14? Are you responsible for reporting those as subject to the self-employment tax? The self-employment tax is an additional payment of 15.3% to account for Medicare and Social Security.

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We’re taking a page from the Tax Times blog today to talk about this issue. For the most part, a taxpayer’s portion of ordinary income from partnerships (including LLC’s) reported on a K-1 is indeed subject to the self-employment tax. There are, of course, exceptions. This requires the assistance of an experienced team of accountants and tax attorneys, since the solution for you likely depends on your individual circumstances, the state of formation for the LLC and whether the LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity. In any case, it could be worth your while to discuss this issue with a trained professional to learn whether you are liable for the self-employment tax or not.

To learn more about complicated tax issues and reporting of self-employment income, contact our offices at 732-521-9455 or through email at info@lawesq.net.