March, 2017 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Business Law Blog
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Planned Giving and Estate Planning Often Should Work Together

March 30, 2017

Filed under: Charitable Giving — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

 

When many people approach the subject of estate planning, it’s quite possible that they will have multiple goals. First of all, they may want to articulate plans for their own belongings when they pass away. Others might want to ensure that their specific wishes related to end-of-life care are clearly outlined in legal documents to address potential concerns with family members who may argue over intentions. Still others may want to incorporate planning giving, or making charitable gifts to others, into their overall planning structure. All of these are worthwhile goals and it’s also possible for them to work hand in hand. Your lawyer should help you create a comprehensive plan. NJ charitable giving estate lawyer

The concept of planned giving usually should come up in any conversation with an experienced estate planning attorney. This is particularly true when the estate owner was very charitable or philanthropic in their life. Estate planning and planned giving are becoming increasingly intertwined as individuals think about the legacy they wish to leave behind. The relationship between estate planning and planned gifts is a deeply connected one.

Working together they can provide a stable method for passing on to those with significant needs after the creator passes away. Individuals who are putting together their estate may wish to leave a portion of their state to something they care about. This may be in conjunction with any planned gifts that are made over the creator’s lifetime. A posthumous gift to a charity can help to generate a legacy of philanthropy and also hep to support an individual’s personalized wishes. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney about all of the options available and strategies that can be used in order to combine estate planning with planned giving is strongly recommended.

 

 

Estate Planning Tips for Caregivers

March 29, 2017

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

You may be one of the many individuals who is putting off the process of planning their estate but it’s important for anyone who is a caregiver for an elderly person or a parent of anyone with disabilities to initiate a head start. Unfortunately, when you’re putting together a will, many individuals will think of the material items that they will leave behind to others. But what happens if you are caring for someone with a disability? There are many different needs that someone with a disability may cope with as they get older and things that parents need to know in order to have these things in place for their future.NJ caregiver estate planning

A caregiver should have a plan in place both for themselves and for the elderly or disabled person they are caring for. A sudden change in the life of either person could trigger serious problems, so planning ahead is essential.

Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney about putting together a special needs trust, for example, can be beneficial. In addition, a caregiver may wish to have a life insurance policy in place that could pay off the proceeds to a trust or directly to an individual who is coping with special needs. Bear in mind that additional planning may need to be done in order to include the fact that most individuals who have disabilities or on government programs that the qualification for these programs should not be jeopardized by giving an outright gift. Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help.

Will You Still Need Estate Planning if the Estate Tax is Abolished?

March 28, 2017

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

President Trump’s campaign platform expected an abolishment of the estate tax. This could lead some individuals to think that they won’t need estate planning in the event that he is able to follow through on his promises. The current estate tax sits at 40% and Trump intends to repeal it. The estate tax laws that were in place for 2017 were actually established four years ago. These allow exemptions of up to $5.49 million for an individual and $10.98 million for a couple in 2017. Nj estate tax planning lawyer

When a spouse passes away and leaves everything to their spouse, there is also no tax collected. This means that repealing the estate tax would only have significant implications for those individuals with a net worth higher than $11 million. This is why whether or not there is a federal estate tax in place, you will always need the essentials when it comes to estate planning. remember that estate planning is about more than what happens when it becomes time to pass on your property to individuals you love after you pass away.

It is also about establishing important documents like powers of attorney and healthcare proxies so that individuals are equipped to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. With or without an estate tax in place, you will need to approach the estate planning process to consider your individual issues such as your personal property, management of your pets, assisting with special needs, planning for a child, handling your digital afterlife and many other issues associated with the estate planning process.

 

The Biggest Mistakes That Executors Make

March 27, 2017

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

Who you choose to serve as the executor of your personal estate is an important selection. It is one that needs to be made with careful planning and after a consultation with your estate planning lawyer. Unfortunately, executors can make mistakes in the management of your estate and this could add to additional frustration or anxiety for your loved ones after you’ve passed away. 

This is why it is essential to identify someone who is not only comfortable with managing your estate but who will also have the interest to do so. Serving as an estate executor is an important responsibility. Some of the most common mistakes associated with executors include:

  • Not understanding the probate process and failing to hire an attorney.
  • Having no clear outcome in mind such as settling with heirs, maximizing the estate value, paying off the taxes or getting peace of mind.
  • Waiting too long to market your real estate.
  • Securing and maintaining real estate without understanding the responsibilities.
  • Choosing friends instead of experienced professionals to do the right job such as a probate administration attorney.
  • Not submitting paperwork or documents in an appropriate time period.

All of these can have significant ramifications for the beneficiaries of your estate. It is important that the person you select or choose as your executor has confidence in their own abilities to manage it and has the time and interest to do so.

 

What’s the Difference Between Primary & Secondary Beneficiaries?

March 23, 2017

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

When you fill out important forms with your IRA, 401(k) or your life insurance policy, you may be asked to distinguish between a primary and a contingency or secondary beneficiary. Your primary beneficiary is the individual who is first in line to receive any account assets after you pass away. 

The secondary or the contingent beneficiary may be eligible to get the remaining account assets so long as there are no other surviving primary beneficiaries when you pass away. If you name your spouse as the primary beneficiary, for example, and your children are listed as secondary beneficiaries, the children will only be entitled to inherit assets if the spouse passes away before you do, or if the spouse does not claim entitlement to those assets. You can designate a charity, trust or another entity as your primary or secondary beneficiary.

You may get divorced or experience other life changes that prompt an update in your primary or secondary beneficiaries. When this happens, make sure you do more than contact your estate planning lawyer. While that’s certainly essential for any documents and plans you already have with your attorney, it’s also important to contact your bank and life insurance policy about any accounts where they maintain separate beneficiary info. This is crucial for updating all your materials and ensuring that if something happens to you that everything is recorded accurately. Otherwise, your wishes may not be carried out.

Make sure that you talk to your estate planning attorney to ensure that your designated trust has all the necessary legal requirements structured if you choose to designate a trust as a beneficiary for your retirement account. You may choose multiple primary and secondary beneficiaries depending on your individual needs. Make sure that you keep these forms updated on a regular basis as life circumstances change.

 

Study Shows Americans Still Uncomfortable with Talking About Estate Planning and Inheritance

March 22, 2017

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

A new study conducted by Ameriprise determined that financial discussions within families generally go more smoothly than anticipated, however, there are unclear inheritance expectations that ultimately cause tension or even family drama. Up to 19% of American adults across the United States feel that it is uncomfortable or inappropriate to discuss estate planning with their adult children. Many of them do not want their children thinking about their death and this is one of the primary reasons why people avoid including inheritance and estate planning issues in their financial discussions. Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to future financial plans.NJ legacy planning lawyer

There are three primary issues that can cause tension between families as it relates to inheritance. These are lack of communication, family drama and unrealistic expectations. Consider that many individuals expect to receive more than $100,000 as an inheritance from their parents, but the vast majority of people actually getting an inheritance are getting less than a $100,000. Up to 70% of individuals have not been given any clue at all about the money they can expect when a loved one passes on, generating further confusion and frustration that is unnecessary.

The talk may be challenging to start, but consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can give a better scope for what to expect and give you some guidelines for approaching this difficult situation with your loved ones. Talking about finances as well as estate planning and inheritance issues is important. When something happens to you, you do not want your loved ones to have the added frustration of trying to figure out your intentions or being confused about the goals of your estate planning. Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer now can help you avoid family drama and carry out your wishes.

 

What You Need to Know About Basic Fiduciaries for Your Estate Plan

March 21, 2017

Filed under: Fiduciary Duties — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Your estate planning documents will put together numerous roles where other individuals will step in and have responsibilities on your behalf. One of these is the executor. The executor is responsible for the gathering of information regarding your assets after you pass away, handling all tax responsibilities and then distributing those assets for you. Besides the executor, however, there are several other people who might play a key role in determining how to handle your assets or estate plan while you are alive or after you pass away. You need to know the distinction and also ensure you have selected someone for each of these roles appropriately. This is a crucial step in comprehensive estate planning for your individual or business needs.

A guardian is an individual who is responsible for the physical and regular care of your minor children if something were to happen to you. An agent, on the other hand, is a person who is appointed to manage your assets or make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so as a result of incapacitation or disability.

A trustee, on the other hand, manages and invests trust assets by distributing them in accordance with the terms of the trust you created. He or she is also responsible for filing all necessary tax returns. There may be multiple fiduciaries assisting with the management of your estate plan. Identifying the right people is extremely important as they should be both capable of handling this and willing to do so. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand how these different roles will intersect and play a role if something happens to you while you are alive or after you pass away.

 

Fixing A Business Succession Planning Problem

March 20, 2017

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

Consulting with an experienced business succession planning attorney is strongly recommended in the event that you have connections to another company. If you want to transfer your business to a successor or if you are getting ready to retire or slow down, it is important to identify the appropriate business succession planning process to make things as easy as possible on your successors as well as to minimize taxes. Most people put this process off because they assume their exit in the business is so far off they don’t need to think about it. However, a sudden event like a disability can happen at any time.NJ business succession planning

There are several common problems associated with business succession planning. These include:

  • Treating children who will not be involved in the business fairly.
  • Transferring or selling the business to children without being hit by serious taxes.
  • Selling the business to a key employee if that individual has no money.

All these plans should be discussed well in advance with your business succession planning lawyer. Having the intention is one thing, but you also need documents ready to back you up if you decide to move forward with these plans. Legally valid documents can go a long way towards protecting you and helping you craft the transition most valuable to the business and to you.

Consulting with an experienced attorney and identifying potential strategies such as a profit-sharing plan, a qualified personal residence trust or an irrevocable life insurance trust may all be beneficial tactics for identifying a way to pass on the business in a smooth manner. The business can otherwise experience significant interruptions or even face financial jeopardy if the succession plan is not identified by a knowledgeable attorney well in advance. A lawyer can assist you with this process by sitting down and getting to know you and your individual business.              

What You Need to Know About UTMA Regret

March 17, 2017

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

When you set up a custodial account for your child under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, you may have the best of intentions that this will ultimately benefit your loved one well into the future. Unfortunately, however, some people are realizing that this was a mistake later on. This is why some estate planning professionals refer to this as UTMA regret. This can be extremely challenging when you want to make changes to the account. UTMA NJ

Most people who want to transfer assets to a child will use the UTMA type of account in order to name the child as the owner. This means that the child is not able to access the assets until they have reached an age specified in the law. This is typically 18 or 21. While most of these accounts are set up by parents of that child, other relatives can do so as well. However, people have various reasons for wishing they could cancel a UTMA account, including:

  • Protecting the child’s money. In situations in which you believe the child is not mature enough to handle the sum.
  • Student financial aid and the impact that this could have on a child’s eligibility to receive scholarships and grants.
  • Siblings who come along after the first child has received a UTMA account.
  • Special needs that could block that child from receiving government aid.
  • Misunderstanding for situations in which an individual set up such an account, but did not understand how it worked.

It is important to carefully consider all aspects before moving forward with a UTMA account. Typically, a UTMA account is the first savings fund that grandparents and parents will set up for young children at a mutual fund company, bank or brokerage house. This is a low-cost route that allows an adult to be responsible for managing the money for a minor.

Since young people are legally entitled to that money when they achieve a certain age, they might have other ideas about how to spend it in comparison with how the person who set up the account viewed it. Trying to remove the money from the account or investing it all in savings bonds and planning for the child to not find out could actually be illegal. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended if you are considering using a UTMA account for a loved one.

                                                                                                                

Estate Planning From Inventory to Structure

March 16, 2017

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

 

Once you know that you need a solid estate plan to help you accomplish your goals, the next step is to conduct an inventory. You have to know what you have and what might be included in your estate before you attend a meeting with your estate planning lawyer. Many people find themselves overwhelmed by the prospect of putting together an estate plan, but the good news is that it does not have to be difficult. estate planning lawyer NJ09

Make sure you consider the following in putting together an inventory:

  • Recent statements from your brokerage, retirement, and bank accounts
  • All liabilities, including your mortgage
  • All physical assets like cars and jewelry inside your home
  • All your insurance policies, including info on death benefits and cash values
  • Reference all the locations of your safety deposit boxes

 

After meeting with your estate planning, you’ll have a better sense of what you need to do in order to make the most of your estate plan. It’s critical that you follow through since your estate plan is only as valuable as the structure and the follow-up you implement. This means that if you have set up a trust, you need to fund it properly. You need to make sure that any property you have mentioned in your estate plan has the right titles, too. These might seem like small steps, but they actually matter a lot if something were to happen to you. Taking the right action now makes it easier to stay on top of the necessary changes in your plan overall, too.

 

Ready to talk about how to make the most of estate planning? Schedule a consultation with a New Jersey estate planning lawyer now to learn more about what you need to know.

Did You Know That IRA Assets Are Not Completely Protected Unless You Use a Standalone Retirement Trust?

March 15, 2017

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

Without any advanced planning, your retirement assets do give you some protection against creditors, but it’s not comprehensive. If you want to increase your overall asset protection, you need to consult with an attorney to figure out how to boost the protection of the personal assets you have worked so hard to build.

A qualified retirement plan may be shielded from most creditors; however, it is not complete protection. A retirement plan provides you with the benefit of having a nest egg to save money for your future and most people are also aware that there is an additional benefit of qualified retirement plans that enables you to save money on taxes. However, many people don’t realize that retirement plans can also be used to, in some form or fashion, protect your assets from creditors. 

An asset protection strategy is important for all individuals and particularly small business owners. The exemption for retirement plan assets is unlimited under Federal Bankruptcy Law. This means that a small business owner may be able to protect a large deal of wealth inside a retirement plan.

Retirement funds are protected in an asset protection plan in a variety of ways, depending on whether or not the plan is qualified and subject to the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. 401(k) assets, for example, are protected ERISA, but your IRA assets may not be protected appropriately unless you use a standalone retirement trust that is put together by an experienced asset protection and planning attorney.

 

Special Needs Trust Administration

March 13, 2017

Filed under: Special Needs Trust — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Most parents of special needs children understand that taking action steps to plan for the future is imperative. One of the most common ways to do this is by working with an experienced estate planning lawyer to put together a special needs trust. Beyond the basic terms of the trust, designed to protect a loved one with special needs years down the road if something happens to you, it’s important to think about the end game as far as the administration of that trust, too.

The purpose behind such a trust is to supplement benefits given by the government and to make assets inside the trust last as long as possible. Family members may sometimes be the trustee of such a trust. However, this does not always mean that such a person is familiar with the aspects of administering this trust.

Administration of this trust in line with state and federal laws is important because it could otherwise exclude the beneficiary from the government benefits he or she needs. For example, Medicaid eligibility regulations in New Jersey will only allow individuals to exclude money from the resource test to get that benefit if that money is inside a special needs trust.

In New Jersey, the state has to get advance notice of expenditures from the trust that exceed $5,000. Understanding these rules and ensuring proper compliance at all times is extremely important when actions are taken on behalf of a special needs person. Consulting with a lawyer who has experience putting together special needs trusts is strongly recommended.

 

Leave a Legacy & Note Note for Your Family with Estate Planning

March 9, 2017

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

Approaching the topic of death is never easy, but it might help to reframe the estate planning process by viewing it as your way to leave behind a legacy and a love note for your family. The truth is that you may get more peace of mind from knowing that you have taken the right steps to protect your loved ones if you were to pass away suddenly. It’s often hard enough for family members to go through the grief process, but that experience can be amplified when your loved ones are unclear about the intentions of your estate planning.

Beyond serving as crucial legal documents, your will and trust documents can help you articulate your individual legacy and to communicate your concern and love for your family members. Unfortunately, most people don’t even realize the challenges that may arise without a will until it’s too late. Witnessing a friend or family member working through the will or other estate conflict can give you a firsthand perspective of all that can fall apart without proper planning.

And yet, people don’t take the necessary steps because they don’t believe it will happen to them or because they assume it’s too complicated. Up to 60% of most adults in the U.S. don’t have a will. When it comes to Millennials, those numbers are even worse: only one in five has a will. A will is the basic cornerstone of the estate planning process, but it does not address what happens if someone becomes incapacitated while they are still alive.

In the event of a sudden disability or an accident that takes you out of commission for making your own decisions for even a short period of time, your power of attorney documents can make things easier for your loved ones by informing them about which person is responsible for making those decisions. A family member seeing you unable to make your own decisions is an emotional process and one that you can make easier by articulating your concerns on paper well in advance. Since your loved ones will have enough to worry about during that time, make the process easier on them by meeting with your estate planning attorney today.

Millennials Need Estate Planning, Too

March 8, 2017

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

If you ask any Millennial what’s on tap for them in the next several years, there’s a good chance they’ve got a list with all kinds of travel, graduation, debt repayment, and career goals. But one issue that does not come up enough in these “life” to-do lists is estate planning. In fact, since there’s such a perspective that estate planning only makes sense for older or wealthier individuals, estate planning may not be something a younger person considers at all until they are married or expecting their first child. 

One misstep for younger individuals that leads them to believe estate planning is something you only need to worry about in your 50s or 60s is the foundational view that estate planning is only needed when you pass away. That’s a big mistake. Whether it’s naming a guardian for your minor child or having a healthcare directive to enable someone else to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so, estate planning looks at the future, but the future of your life, too. Most people aren’t expecting a disability or accident in the same way they aren’t anticipating their own mortality at a young age.

Just one car accident or medical diagnosis, however, can turn a person’s life upside down without proper planning. It generates unique legal issues and places undue stress on family members struggling to cope with all the changes. In some sense, the Millennial generation is more financially responsible than those in the past, perhaps because many of them are dealing with student loan debt that requires them to be at least aware of their financial situation. Many are interested in self-development and planning for retirement, which makes an excellent opportunity to approach estate planning with an open mind.

If you have questions about the tools and strategies you could use as a Millennial, now is the time to start looking ahead. Contact an experienced New Jersey estate planning lawyer today.

This Estate Planning Mistake Could Leave You with Significant Consequences

March 7, 2017

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

If you realize after the fact that you and your spouse did not have your account set up properly, all of the estate planning that you have done prior to that point may become invalid. If you have a will as well as a trust, bear in mind that nay beneficiary designations you have on separate accounts will override what your trust and your will says.

It is simply not enough to set aside a meeting with an estate planning lawyer to talk over your options and to determine who you want your assets to be passed down to when it’s from your 401(k), IRA or from your life insurance policy. That’s because these companies keep their own records of your beneficiary designations. You’re still eligible to make your own decisions about who should receive these benefits should something happen to you. But all of the good planning in the world associated with your trust and your will can fall apart relatively quickly if you do not have these other elements in place.

Make sure that you set aside time to analyze your beneficiary designations on all of these accounts on an annual basis. It is as simple as contacting the company and identifying your current beneficiaries. In the event that you need to update this material, you can use the forms provided by these companies. Make sure you also provide a copy of this information to keep one for yourself as one to your estate planning attorney. Your estate planning attorney can assist you in putting together a plan that is aligned with your individual needs as well as the beneficiary designations you have listed on these separate accounts.

 

Estate Planning for Younger Families

March 6, 2017

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

Many younger families put off the process of engaging in estate planning or consulting with an attorney because they think they are too healthy, too young or simply cannot afford it. Others may have trouble thinking about what might happen to their family members if something were to happen to them. This is particularly true of parents of new children. NJ estate planning

While no individual is expecting to pass away while their family is still relatively young, planning for the possibility is responsible and can give you a great deal of peace of mind about what would happen to your family if something happened to you. Some of the most important steps involved in estate planning for a young family include:

  • Naming a guardian for your minor children
  • Naming a trustee or executor for your estate
  • Naming someone to manage your children’s inheritance
  • Outlining instructions for the distributions of your assets
  • Planning for disability
  • Reviewing your insurance needs
  • Having a plan in place that can be adjusted based on your individual concerns and needs

Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney will give you a place to turn when you have questions and ensure that you have an estate plan that is evolving with relevant state and federal laws as well as your unique family needs. Major family events such as the birth of a new child, a divorce or a remarriage can all trigger unique estate planning consequences and having an attorney who is already familiar with you and your family can help you adjust quickly so that your family is always protected. Planning ahead for disability as well as other health insurance concerns are some additional benefits of estate planning that go beyond thinking about what might happen when you pass away.

Why an Estate Plan Needs a Lifetime Approach

March 2, 2017

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

The right estate plan is a group of small plans that all work together in order to create a comprehensive plan for your business, your family and your life depending on your unique situation. Don’t make the mistake of putting off your estate planning until it’s too late, as it could create additional confusion or frustration for your loved ones.

An attorney is an essential part of your estate planning process. The right lawyer will help you craft a plan for where you’re at now so that it can also evolve over the course of your life as needs change.

There are two primary components of your main plan; a death plan or estate plan including your trust documents and your will and other relevant materials. Many people who think of the term estate planning are referring to this portion. However, it’s equally important to have a lifetime plan as well.

Your trust or will may not be able to accomplish your lifetime goals as successfully without other components. Controlling your wealth and maintaining your lifestyle is important for any different situation. You may also be concerned, if you are married, about maintaining your spouse’s lifestyle in the event that you pass away. There are many different tools for doing this such as retirement plans, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and other strategies. You may also wish to make gifts to charity as well and to plan ahead carefully for any wealth that will be inherited by your family.

Ready to talk about putting together an estate plan or revising an existing one? Make sure you have outside counsel. With changing laws and individual needs, an attorney can help you navigate this process successfully.

 

Financial Advisor Stole Nearly $900,000

March 1, 2017

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

Finding the right people to help you with your estate and your financial affairs is more than just good advice- it can help protect everything you have worked so hard to build. Make sure you investigate the background of any professional you intend to work with so that you have peace of mind about your future.

It is always important to carefully vet and obtain references and testimonials for individuals that you wish to include in any aspect of your future such as your retirement planning, your financial planner, and your estate planning attorney. A new story has emerged indicating that an individual in New Jersey stole approximately $900,000 that a client had given that person to invest in mutual funds.

Money was given to a financial advisor in March 2011 to be invested in mutual funds overseen by an investment firm. Instead the individual spent the money on business and personal expenses including funds spent in a car dealership, a country club, lending institutions and a private school.

The client requested updates and statements on his investments and fictitious financial statements were provided. It is always important to ensure that you are working with someone who is reputable and committed to carrying out your best interests. But when it comes to your finances you will need to do this for both you as well as any aging parents who may have similar concerns.