February, 2017 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Business Law Blog
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Five Steps You Need to Take in Order to Manage Your Estate Planning Appropriately

February 28, 2017

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

Planning ahead for your own future can be difficult because many people do not want to come to terms with their own mortality. It can be even easier to skip out on the estate planning process if you believe that you do not have the wealth necessary to warrant these documents. However, to ensure that your estate is not decimated by taxes, drive through the court system or the prompt that causes all of your family members to argue with one another, it’s important to take these five steps.

Consulting with the lawyer can help you navigate this process and ensure that all of your wishes are carried out. Far too many people fail to plan ahead for incapacitation or their own death and this can leave family members being left to interpret things with the assistance of the court.

Thankfully, these five tips can make things easier for everyone.

  • First of all, begin by taking an inventory of all assets and liabilities to determine what’s included in your estate as well as your net worth.
  • Identify who needs to be listed on all of your relevant beneficiary forms and set an annual calendar reminder to update this, if necessary.
  • Determine whether your executor will be an attorney, a corporate trustee or a family member.
  • Determine the type of plan that makes the most sense for you, incorporating concerns about privacy and court oversight.

Identify an attorney who has experience in the field to assist you with your estate planning documents including your will. It is far better to consult with an individual rather than online resources because there is far too much room for error when attempting to accomplish estate planning on your own.

What Role Can a Financial Advisor Play in Your Estate Planning Process?

February 27, 2017

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

Estate planning is a comprehensive process that may involve multiple professionals who can assist you with determining the right strategies for planning ahead for your future. A good financial advisor is someone that you will need at some point in your life and the estate planning process is a great opportunity to identify one if you are not working with one already. Financial advisors may have multiple different specialties but the primary idea is that they will help you to invest your money to obtain your financial goals. These goals may include minimizing your tax burden, budgeting, saving for college, retirement, debt reduction, giving to charity or even generating income in the future. NJ asset protection

Financial advisors may have multiple different specialties but the primary idea is that they will help you to invest your money to obtain your financial goals. These goals may include minimizing your tax burden, budgeting, saving for college, retirement, debt reduction, giving to charity or even generating income in the future.

A financial advisor can help you achieve these goals as well as the strategies behind these investment decisions so you are better informed. When working with both an estate planning attorney and a financial advisor, you’ll have a broader picture of your financial goals and what will happen to your wealth should something happen to you unexpectedly.

Identifying all of the different strategies being used and having a clearly defined structure for your investment plan will also give you a better perspective of how your retirement planning can assist you when it comes to thinking about planning for long-term care or passing on assets to your loved ones while you are still alive. It is strongly recommended that you identify both an estate planning attorney and a financial advisor who have plenty of experience in the field.

                                                                                                                                                                                           

Asset Protection Planning in 2017 (“You & Your Taxes”, TV Asia)

February 24, 2017

Filed under: Estate Planning — Neel Shah @ 2:58 am

How to Engage in Asset Protection Planning in 2017

See Neel Shah & Rohit Vyas discuss hot to protect your assets in 2017 on TV Asia’s “You & Your Taxes” (Airdate: February 2017)

Asset protection is a type of planning intended to protect one’s assets from creditor claims & implementing strategies for guarding one’s wealth. .Individuals and business entities use asset protection techniques to limit creditors’ access to certain valuable assets, while operating within the bounds of debtor-creditor law.

Asset protection helps insulate assets in a legal manner – without engaging in the illegal practices of concealment (hiding of the assets), contempt, fraudulent conveyances or transfer, tax evasion or bankruptcy fraud.

Asset protection begins before a claim or liability occurs, since it is usually too late to initiate any worthwhile protection after the fact. Some common methods for asset protection include asset protection trusts, LLCs and family limited partnerships.

(Source: Investopedia)

The Dangers of an ‘I Love You’ Will

February 23, 2017

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

In the event that you want to ensure that your spouse gets access to your wealth after your death, this may be referred to as an ‘I love you’ will. In this situation your spouse will receive the assets outright and it will initially appear as if those assets will be handled according to the spouse’s current estate plan when he or she passes away.

 

However, that surviving spouse could alter their estate plan at any time. That means that any verbal agreements about what will happen with those assets could disappear immediately.

 

There are several other negative aspects of ‘I love you’ wills that should prompt you to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about other strategies. These include:

  •       These wills will still have to go through the probate process.
  •       Basic planning could mean very little or no asset protection.
  •       Basic plans put more assets into survivor’s estate, possibly leading to increased taxes.
  •       Inadvertent disinheritance can occur.
  •       Conservatorship or guardianship involvement may be necessary.

 

A lifetime beneficiary trust is a better option than outright inheritance because it avoids all of the disadvantages associated with ‘I love you’ wills.
Your New Jersey estate planning lawyer can help you with this process.

Using a Trust with Special Purpose Language in Order to Protect Your Beneficiaries from Themselves

February 22, 2017

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

There are many different situations in which you may want to put together a trust that helps to protect your beneficiaries from hurting themselves in the future. Some examples include children who are struggling with addiction, those who are spendthrifts and individuals suffering from mental illness.

 

As a parent, there’s no doubt that you have concerns about their care and the most appropriate way to leave behind assets to assist with that care. However, estate planning might differ in this situation when compared with other types of families. Using a trust with special purpose language is frequently the answer.

 

Traditional estate planning goals can be accomplished with a trust such as minimizing taxes, ensuring that the intended beneficiaries are named and avoiding probate However, it can also be tailored for more unique family situations involving addiction or illness.
Parents can now add language that allows the appointed trustee to deal with the bad as well as the good, thereby incentivizing a child to meet certain requirements in order to receive a distribution from the trust. For example, you might outline that staying on a certain medication that helps the child control their addiction is necessary. proper planning should also include conversations about a HIPAA release and healthcare power of attorney after the child reaches age 18. Consulting with a knowledgeable New Jersey estate planning lawyer is strongly recommended.  

New Study Shows That 6 Out of 10 Adult Americans Don’t Have a Will

February 21, 2017

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

It’s never easy to think about the potential end of your life and putting together a will and other end of life documents. However, it’s a great idea to incorporate this into your long range planning as it could help to protect your heirs and give you peace of mind about the future. Practically every family has had one experience or another with a person who did not take care to fill out a will. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of celebrity mistakes that indicate the downsides of avoiding a will as well.

 

Recently, Caring.com released a study that 58% of Americans don’t have any planning documents at all, including a living trust or a will. The research also identified that just more than one-third of parents who have children younger than age 18 have these documents which means that there are plenty of young parents who may not be appropriately prepared for unexpected tragedies.
The study was conducted by Princeton Research and asked more than 1000 adults about their end of life planning. Although more than 80% of those aged 72 and above have filed those documents. Those at the younger end of the scale have a much lower chance of actually having completed their estate planning. Consulting with a knowledgeable New Jersey Estate planning lawyer is strongly recommended in order to protect your future.

Have You Planned for Your Digital Afterlife Yet?

February 20, 2017

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

Most people are aware of the major benefits of putting together a will to encompass their estate plans. However, have you thought about what might happen to your digital accounts? It could be devastating to your family, for example, if you have not put together a plan to pass on access information to your Facebook accounts or to your online photo libraries.

 

If your family is unable to access these materials, it could cause additional confusion and stress during a time when they are already grieving your loss. This could be even more amplified for someone who manages a business email account but has not shared the password or given any way for someone else to gain access in the event of an accident.

 

Many people do not anticipate problems such as a heart attack, stroke or another incident that could render you incapacitated or lead to fatal injuries. It is a good idea to name a data executor in your will who will have permission to access your account in the event that something happens to you. Furthermore, take advantage of the legacy planning options afforded by sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google that empower someone else to be able to access your accounts if something were to happen to you.
This is an excellent policy to put in place in order to protect yourself and to give your loved ones some peace of mind in the event that they need or want to access this information after you pass away.

Disconnect Between Parents and Children on Estate Planning: New Study

February 16, 2017

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

Most people recognize what estate planning covers in a basic sense, but plenty of research shows that people have trouble following through on developing their own estate planning documents. A new study also shows that there’s a lack of communication or understanding across generations as well. The study from Fidelity identified that many American families may be less prepared than they realize when it comes to leaving behind a legacy and an estate plan. NJ estate planning

Up to 90% of parents and their adult children understood the need for estate planning in general and the value of having clear conversations about it. However, parents reported that the vast majority of them had already had these discussions with children, but that was not echoed in the children’s own answers. Nearly 70% of parents said they had talked about incapacity and estate planning with their kids, but just over half of the adult child respondents affirmed that.

The study also found that nearly 70% of children and parents were not on the same page when it came to the timeline and circumstances appropriate to discuss estate planning. As it relates to legacy planning and important documents empowering someone else to step in on your behalf if something happens to you, sooner is always better. No one can anticipate an accident but plenty of families have had a bad experience trying to work through a loved one’s injury and sudden incapacitation without the right estate planning.

Waiting too long might only make things more difficult for your family members if they are forced into guessing your wishes or, worse yet, the courts have to step in. Planning ahead just in case is a good way to have peace of mind about what will happen if you are suddenly unable to make decisions for yourself. To learn more about the estate planning process in New Jersey, contact an experienced lawyer who can help you structure a plan in line with your needs.

 

 

 

 

Blended Families and Estate Planning: Looking Ahead

February 15, 2017

Filed under: Blended Families — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

While estate planning is important for everyone, it’s extremely important if you have a blended family. One of the biggest reasons for this is that blended families are much more likely to have complicated issues and it’s a situation in which small mistakes can become big ones if you don’t plan ahead properly. It’s important to identify an attorney who has experience with handling these kinds of complex concerns in your family so that you have peace of mind that you’ve considered all options. 

More and more Americans are part of a blended family. This simply refers to a situation in which one or even both spouses are bringing in children from a prior marriage. It can be really complicated to approach estate planning in these situations in which the adult probably wants to care for their surviving spouse as well as children from the previous spouse. One way to do this is to consider using a trust. When opting for a trust, you have more say and control over how your assets are distributed. Setting up a meeting with an estate planning lawyer is strongly recommended if you’re thinking about using a trust.

It’s about more than putting together new documents, however. You’ll want to be equally concerned about updating documents you already have. Even the best of intentions and clear instructions in your estate planning documents can be overridden if the account in question is one where you need to name beneficiaries. For example, your IRA or your life insurance policy carriers will keep your instructions about who is to receive your assets. If you don’t also update these materials when you get remarried, the company will carry out the last valid instructions you left on your beneficiary forms. If you forget to update these, there’s a strong chance that your previous spouse could be legally entitled to receive some or all of those benefits.

Set aside a time to meet with your estate planning lawyer to talk about how your previous marriage and your new marriage warrant a review of your estate planning goals. Setting aside the time to talk to someone who understands the legal implications of these issues can be extremely helpful and give you some confidence that you’ve put together a plan that reflects your current needs.

 

What You Should Know About Revoking Your Will

February 14, 2017

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

One of the most common ways for a will contest to emerge is to have a track record of changing or revoking your will. This is not to say that you cannot update materials you’ve put together previously, but simply that you should do so with care. Your will should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it’s still in line with your wishes, but it’s important to verify that you’re following the best practices in the industry when revoking your will so that it would be difficult for someone to argue down the road that your current will is invalid. last will NJ

One of the primary reasons why you might want to change your will is because your relationship with charities, friends, and family members are capable of changing all the time. When you initially put your will together, it may be part of a clear plan to leave behind certain assets to particular people. Over time, however, these needs may evolve. An old will that is mostly full of outdated information should be revoked. The good news you should be aware of is that it’s typically easier to revoke a will or to change one than to create one from scratch. Sitting down with your estate planning attorney can help prompt questions about why you want to revoke the old will and what your new document should contain instead.

Revoking a will makes the old one invalid. It’s a good idea to set up an appointment with your estate planning lawyer if you intend to move forward with this step. If you do not put together a valid will, people may allege after you pass away that your new will is inaccurate and therefore your old will may still remain viable for pursuing the distribution of your property. Making a big change like revoking your will is something that should be done with the guidance of an experienced estate planning lawyer in NJ who can tell you more about what you need to consider both when terminating the old will and putting together the new one. Details matter in this process, so it’s important to have a lawyer you can trust.

 

 

 

 

Do You Have a Complete Estate Planning Strategy?

February 13, 2017

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

These days, the basic will simply won’t cut it for the vast majority of people approaching their estate plan. This is especially true for those individuals who have amassed wealth over the course of their lifetime.

A comprehensive estate planning strategy includes multiple components beyond planning for your assets to be passed on to another generation. For example, it would also include consideration of your philanthropic goals. In conjunction with your will, estate planning strategies and your philanthropic goals should all be included. 

The right estate planning lawyer can help you determine what should be incorporated into your estate plan. The good news is that your goals can be directly aligned with the documents and tools you use to plan ahead for your future. You can think carefully about your own retirement planning and your estate planning intentions so that things will be as easy as possible for your heirs.

Estate planning should always also look at your goals for while you’re living, too. Too many people focus just on what will happen to their assets after you pass away, but you can also construct documents with your plans for while you’re still alive, such as your healthcare materials to allow someone else to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so. Your power of attorney documents, for example, can give you peace of mind that someone can step in on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

How to Find Retirement Volunteer Opportunities

February 9, 2017

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

Many individuals approaching retirement have spent many years saving for this opportunity and have adjusted their estate planning documents to reflect their retirement goals. However, the transition from the working world to retirement can be a difficult one as far as making use of all of your time.

Spending more time with children and grandchildren is a huge benefit of being retired, but you may also find that you wish to give back to your community. Thankfully, there are many different ways that you can give back to your community by considering some important questions about volunteering. More than 62 million Americans volunteered a median of 52 hours in 2010, according to research gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, if you are hoping to volunteer, you are not alone. That number increases to a high of 96 hours for volunteers aged 65 and over. There are several key things you need to consider when approaching volunteering in retirement. These include:

  •    Seeking out a volunteer job you are good at. Whether you have empathy for others or have specific experience or skills uniquely suited to the position, make sure that you have identified a volunteer opportunity specifically in line with what you need.
  •    Ask yourself why you are actually volunteering. There are many different motivations for signing up for a volunteer opportunity, but ensure that you and the organization you choose to partner with are clear about yours.
  •    Will the need required match your commitment? Make sure that the hours per week required, the duration of the work and the intensity of the work is suitable with the time and energy that you are able to give to the position. Asking colleagues and friends in your community is a great way to get started with the volunteer process.

 

Six Reasons Why You Need a Revocable Living Trust

February 8, 2017

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

A revocable living trust affords many different benefits for the people who choose to use it.

 

There are six primary reasons why a living trust can be extremely beneficial for you. These include:

  •    Protecting property for certain beneficiaries who may be unable to control receiving such a large inheritance. This is very beneficial for anyone who has a spendthrift adult child.
  •    Minimizing or eliminating estate taxes. Depending on the size of your gross estate, transferring property into a trust can help to shield it from your estate when it is time to calculate the estate taxes.
  •    Avoiding probate. Many individuals see the benefits of avoiding probate as keeping their beneficiaries from having to go through the frustrating and sometimes expensive process. Probate is also extremely public, meaning that anyone can learn more information about your estate if you choose not to take advanced steps.
  •    Managing property after incapacity. Although there are other solutions such as a durable power of attorney, the most comprehensive solution is a revocable living trust. This allows a successor trustee to take over in any situation in which you become incapacitated or when you choose to resign. There are many different ways that a revocable living trust can benefit you in this manner.
  •    Avoiding will contest. Wills are much easier to contest than a revocable living trust. Since a revocable living trust contest requires that the individual arguing that you have been unduly influenced or were incompetent has to prove that you met those criteria every single time that distributions were made or property was transferred into the trust as well as when you created the trust to begin with.
  •    Privacy. Many individuals dislike the process of probate because it is extremely public, but a revocable living trust is extremely private and information is only given out in the event that a trustee or the grantor allows it to be so.

Don’t Let Estate Planning Seem Overwhelming to You

February 7, 2017

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

Many people dread the thought of approaching their estate planning. It’s an uncomfortable reminder that we are all limited by our own mortality, but there can be devastating consequences for putting this off until it’s too late and leaving your heirs with an administrative and financial mess. Those individuals who will receive your assets may receive less because of expenses like taxes and court costs. They may not receive them at all in some situations. This is why estate planning is so important regardless of your age, your health condition or the size of your estate. 

 

There are several critical documents that belong in any estate plan, the most important of which is known by most individuals and this is a will. This is the legal document that allows you to determine how your assets will be distributed when you pass away. The state intestacy statute in New Jersey will determine what happens to your property if you pass away without a will. Those individuals who have only a will, however, may mean that your assets have to go through the probate process prior to distribution.

 

Many people living in New Jersey hope to avoid the probate process for the benefit of their heirs and therefore, will use a revocable trust. This trust will act in a similar way as the will, however, it will avoid probate and cut down on expensive court proceedings while also giving greater privacy to your estate.

 

A durable power of attorney is also strongly recommended as another crucial estate planning tool. This allows another individual to step in and take responsibility for your financial affairs, should you become unable to do so. In the event that you become incapacitated without having taken the planning step of naming a durable power of attorney, the court may be responsible for stepping in and naming someone to act on your behalf in a time consuming and possibly expensive proceeding. Thankfully, your ability to look ahead and plan for these risks including incapacity as well as what happens when you pass away can make things much easier for your heirs.

Major Life Changes That You Need to Incorporate into Your Estate Plan

February 6, 2017

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

Anytime that a major life change happens, it’s a good opportunity to schedule a meeting with your current estate planning attorney. If you don’t have an estate plan yet, you may need to establish a relationship with someone now so that you can build the trust with this individual to keep your materials updated as you go along.

There are many different situations that could prompt an update in your estate planning materials. This includes not just meeting with your attorney to update your estate planning documents, but also contacting any companies for which you may have beneficiaries listed on the accounts; including your IRA, your bank accounts and your life insurance policies. Some of the most common situations prompting a call to your estate planning attorney for an update include:

  •       Selling an investment property.
  •       Selling a primary residence.
  •       A new child.
  •       Marriage or divorce.
  •       Changes in your health status.
  •       A new job.
  •       Having to care for a special needs child.
  •       Entering retirement.
  •       Decisions to give to charity.

Any of these events could make a great opportunity to update your contingent or primary beneficiaries, add an amendment to your trust or to make adjustments to your will. An experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended to ensure that your estate plan is in line with all state and federal laws as well as carrying out your individual wishes.

What Americans Need to Know About the Rising Cost of Long-Term Care

February 2, 2017

Filed under: Long Term Care — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Do you have plans for what would happen to you if you were to become incapacitated? Many people are under the impression that long-term care is something that only older individuals need to consider. It is certainly true that a broad range of baby boomers and other elderly individuals have to think about their long-term care needs as it relates to their longevity and their healthcare concerns. However, anyone can be affected by a long-term care event. 

Consider that some of the claims paid out by long term care insurance companies affect those individuals in their 20s. Just one car accident could have significant repercussions for you.

This highlights the importance of not only having the appropriate long-term care insurance in place, given that the cost of a private nursing home room on an annual basis is edging closer to $100,000 a year, but it also highlights that it’s important for individuals of all ages to have critical healthcare powers of attorney and other documents that articulate who is eligible to make decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so. The right estate planning attorney can help you determine what documents are most appropriate for your individual situation.

The best way to plan for long-term care is to have a system in place in the event that something happens to you or someone you know. Consulting with an estate planning and elder law attorney may be the first step you need to take.

 

Does Experience Really Matter in an Estate Planning Attorney?

February 1, 2017

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

If you’ve come to terms with the fact that you need an estate plan and that you should hire an attorney to help you craft one, this is the first stage towards protecting your future and passing on your assets in a responsible and clear manner. Once you’ve made the decision, it’s tempting to hire the first attorney you can find, but it’s far more worthwhile to do a bit of digging to determine whether or not your lawyer has enough experience in the field. NJ estate planning lawyer

All lawyers have received a special education and passed the bar exam in order to practice within their state, but one of the things that can separate an attorney from the rest of the pack is his or her experience. Experience can be years in the field and it can also be how much of the firm’s and the attorney’s practice is dedicated to estate planning. This is because an attorney with experience will probably have handled situations like yours before and will also be up to date with all the relevant options and laws associated with estate planning. Especially in light of the fact that a new president has just taken office, it’s important to identify a lawyer and legal team who has knowledge of the landscape and can help you determine the best way to look ahead.

An attorney that has some experience handling estate issues or does it every so often is not necessarily a bad choice, but the future of your estate is important and you can gain a lot of benefits from working directly with a lawyer who has significant background experience in this field as he or she is more likely to be familiar with the complex nature of estate planning and how the state and federal laws can evolve and impact your planning choices.

To contact our office and set up a meeting with a dedicated and experienced estate planning attorney, send an email today to info@lawesq.net