April, 2017 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Business Law Blog
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Asset Protection Planning: You Need to Have It

April 27, 2017

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

Too many people realize that asset protection planning is valuable when it’s too late. For example, after a lawsuit is filed against a doctor or after creditors swoop in to take personal assets. This can expose your entire family, your company, and all that you have worked so hard for to serious risks, and that’s why it’s important to start asset protection planning now, even if you’re not yet sure that you need it. Putting a safeguard plan in place now makes a lot of sense, but you’ve got to be prepared by setting up an initial consultation with an experienced asset protection planning lawyer. If you face risks because of your wealth or your profession, asset protection planning is a must-do. asset protection planning is critical

Looking ahead to the future can increase your chances that your beneficiaries will be able to receive the assets that you intend. More than $59 trillion is expected to pass from baby boomers to the future generation, according to a study published by the Boston College Center on Wealth & Philanthropy. Unfortunately, however, despite these numbers, very few baby boomers have taken steps to ensure that their wealth does not disappear immediately after the transfer. Up to 70% of families lose all of their wealth by the second generation, according to data shared by the Williams Group Wealth Consultancy. 90% of families lose all of their wealth by the third generation.

There are changing needs for affluent and mature clients who are concerned about successfully transferring and preserving their wealth. Identifying an experienced attorney who can assist with the asset protection planning process and infusing various strategies such as trusts and other estate planning tools can give you peace of mind that your assets will be passed on to a future generation and protected as much as possible.

 

Why Caregivers are So Important for Those Individuals Who Have Disabilities

April 26, 2017

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

A 2011 study shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified that the number of children who had developmental disabilities increased by 17% between 1997 and 2008. The prevalence of autism alone increased by 290% and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder increased by 33%. disability estate planning

This expanding portion of the population needs help. Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive issues may also impact aging parents raising questions about who will be responsible for caretaking and what will happen to an individual’s assets when he or she needs to qualify for Medicaid or additional services. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss future planning for Medicaid and other goals for your assets is extremely important. Many people looking to the future need to consider how a child with developmental disabilities would be cared for.

It is essential that these individuals be able to qualify for government benefits and programs and planning ahead for a sudden asset transfer without taking this into consideration could jeopardize your loved one’s ability to qualify for Medicaid or other benefit programs designed for special needs individuals. Having a conversation well in advance is the best way to plan for this.

Whether it’s a cognitive or a physical disability, the right planning goes a long way. Having a knowledgeable caregiver and plans put in place well in advance can help anyone who is going through the process of protecting the interests of a person with a disability. Talk to an estate planning lawyer today about strategies and options for those with special needs.

Prince’s Estate Still in Limbo One Year Later

April 25, 2017

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

Prince passed away just over one year ago. Unfortunately, however, his unexpected death associated with an accidental painkiller is still tied up in probate court. It is estimated that Price’s estate is worth more than $300 million and unfortunately, he passed away without a will and testament to his name, causing serious concerns. This story illustrates just how important basic estate planning can prove to be no matter the size of your estate.NJ estate planning attorneys help you look ahead to the future

Minnesota probate court has had to sift through dozens of dubious alleged claims of a connection to the musician. The courts are still trying to put an end to the ongoing conflicts between numerous family members. Two remaining claimants, however, argue that a temporary special administrator for the estate inappropriately aligned funds that were supposed to be received by beneficiaries.

Prince’s estate shows just how complicated things can get if you do not take the necessary steps to protect your estate well in advance. This can lead to numerous conflicts, allegations from people who are not tied to you at all coming forward and wanting to claim a piece of your estate, and arguments over whether or not an executor is handling things appropriately. Thankfully, as an individual aware of these problems now, you can take necessary steps to minimize the chances that your family will have any additional frustrations or concerns to deal with after you pass away.

The right estate planning lawyer can help you identify next steps in order to accomplish your individual estate planning strategies. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer today to learn more about your options.

                                                                                                                                                                                           

IRS Changes Process for Estate Tax Liens

April 24, 2017

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

One of the aspects of handling an estate that can prove problematic is when the IRS puts a lien on property. The IRS is capable of putting a lien on a piece of property or an asset in order to recover money that is owed to them after a person passes away. 

Internal Revenue Service procedures have been updated in the last several months. No announcement from the IRS was given in June 2016 when the agency consolidated all responsibility for processing form 4422. This paperwork is filed when an estate plan’s transfer assets prior to filing forms 706, if those same assets are a subject to an estate tax lien as outlined under internal revenue code section 6324. Obtaining a lien release after filing a form was a routine matter in the past.

However, the IRS has been mandating that all of the net proceeds from the sale of that property be put into an escrow account or the estate tax account directly with the IRS. The IRS issued a statement earlier in 2017 acknowledging that they were reviewing and updating their process. A memorandum was issued on April 5th about the internal guidance for processing requests and discharging the estate tax liens. If you have concerns about qualifying for the estate tax and strategies and steps you can take, as well as how it may affect your future beneficiaries, consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney today.

 

How to Use Your Will to Assist Your Elderly Parents

April 20, 2017

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

Many individuals are looking forward to the future and the future generations when it comes to putting together a will and other components of an estate plan. However, you may also be interested in putting together an estate plan and in particular, your will to assist your elderly parents. Although no one wants to think about their own mortality, it can be important to consider all potential opportunities for estate planning well in advance. 

If you were to pass away in advance of your parents, your parents could struggle significantly. A will could assist your elderly parents from avoiding government benefits in the event that you passed away before they did. For example, if your parents were listed as the beneficiaries on a life insurance policy, a large payout from the life insurance company could make it impossible for your parents to qualify for the government benefits they need through Medicaid, unless you have a critical provision listed inside your will.

If your parents have limited resources and were planning on receiving Medicaid to assist them with their health care concerns in older age, you may need to take additional steps to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about the best way to approach holistic estate planning.

Holistic estate planning should view not only what happens to your assets after you pass away, but how your individual beneficiaries will be impacted by such a move. This allows you to come out with strategies and tactics that can assist with making the transfer of assets as complementary to everyone as possible.

New BMO Wealth Management Report Shows That There Are Complicated Family Dynamics for Estate Planning

April 19, 2017

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

A new study indicated that up to one-quarter of married adults shared that only their spouse understood the location of their power of attorney and the wills. That survey also indicated that less than 30% of adults knew the location of their parents’ wills or details about the estate distribution plans or executor selections.

It turns out that families with significant wealth may have a long way to go in order to effectively discuss estate planning. Family dynamics are becoming more complex, making it more likely than ever that there will be a conflict after somebody passes away. 40% of the individual surveyors felt that the current distribution plans for their parents’ estate were unfair. Unmarried respondents were those individuals most likely to indicate this. Several financial planning tips can assist you with ensuring that you have minimal conflict opportunities with your loved ones. These include:

  • Setting up a meeting to discuss tax implications.
  • Using a trust to transfer assets outside of your estate.
  • Reviewing your will on a regular basis to ensure that it is updated.

If you have questions about the estate planning process and how it can be used to help you contact an experienced estate planning lawyer today.

 

Two Part Post on Real Estate and Your Estate: Part Two

April 18, 2017

Filed under: Home Probate — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

In general, probate refers to the legal proceedings by which your assets are analyzed and then distributed by the court. Everything that you own, including your land is distributed according to the New Jersey intestate statutes. It can take up to one year for a probate case to make its way through the court system and it can also be extremely expensive as a result of this delay and the costs of an estate attorney. Probate is also a very public process which is one of the primary reasons that if you intend to pass on real estate to your loved ones, you should do so by using a will, trust, or other estate planning tool. real estate probate

Consulting with a lawyer sooner rather than later will give you a broad overview of all the things you need to consider in the estate planning process for your real estate. If you have a vacation property or a primary home, the most important question to ask is whether or not it is designated as tenancy-in-common or joint tenancy. In a joint tenancy situation, two individuals own the property with equal shares. This means that if one person passes away, the ownership of the property is automatically transferred to the other owner without a will. This is classified as right of survivorship. All that is necessary in order to retain ownership is to get a copy of the death certificate recorded for the deceased joint tenant.

Common tenancy, on the other hand, means that two or more individuals own a property in varying portions. Joint tenancy means that equal shares are maintained by individuals at the same time but common tenancy can occur where owners are added or removed from the property’s co-ownership.

Tenants-in-common do not have survivorship rights unless the deceased’s will classifies that his or her interest in such a property is to be divided amongst surviving owners. Otherwise the share of the property goes to his or her real estate and a will can direct where that share will go. After an individual inherits a property, he or she is subject to whatever mortgage exists. That person needs to put together a will as quickly as possible in the event that he or she were to become incapacitated or pass away. The heir can then choose to sell or to keep the property.

 

A Two-Part Series on Your Estate Plan and Real Estate

April 17, 2017

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

Planning ahead for what will happen to your property after you pass away is an important venture and one that should be done under the guidance of an estate planning attorney. Most people don’t want to broach the subject of estate planning as it relates to their real estate but it is extremely important to discuss what will happen to your property if you were to become incapacitated or pass away.NJ estate planning

Managing your final wishes can be extremely challenging for loved ones in this situation. It is strongly recommended that you put together a will to pass down any real estate. The intestate statute in New Jersey will automatically pass down your land and other assets to your closest relatives in accordance with the laws. However, if you want the land to go to a particular individual or to stay together, then it is necessary to write a will. There are other situations in which it might make the most sense to put together a will for estate planning purposes. You might not want certain heirs to inherit particular assets.

Without a will you will not be able to determine where you want the property to go instead of to unfavored relations. If you do not have any children and do not plan to in the future, you can select siblings, nephews, nieces or charities as your beneficiaries but you may want to have primary and contingent beneficiaries that can help you ensure that certain individuals do not profit from your estate. In the event that you do not have a will, an individual’s estate is classified in New Jersey as intestate and enters the official probate process.

Millennials Share Their Unique Retirement Planning Interests

April 13, 2017

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

Research shows that Generation Y hopes to plan for retirement online as well as on mobile and they would prefer to do so with all the help they can get. This indicates an important societal shift that could occur as it relates to retirement planning and estate planning. 

Although millennials are typically defined as a generation focused on individuality, many of them recognize that they need assistance managing their finances and planning ahead for retirement. Most millennials are asking for their employer’s help, for example, in selecting the right investments.

Up to 69% of millennials in fact stated in a recent study that they would like to outsource the management of their retirement portfolio. This provides an important connection to the estate planning process as well. Since more millennials are interested in handling things online and easily, it’s an important conversation that needs to incorporate estate planning as well.
While millennials might often fall into the myth of thinking that they do not need estate planning services since they are relatively young and healthy, that is incorrect. Important documents like a power of attorney can help empower millennials to make critical decisions.  

Do You Really Need to Pay an Estate Planning Lawyer to Assist You?

April 12, 2017

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

 

There are plenty of times in life when it makes sense to handle things on your own or to avoid spending money that you simply do not have or do not need to spend to accomplish a goal.

 

While there are numerous different examples when it does make sense to avoid hiring a professional to assist you, estate planning is not one of them. Paying a professional to assist you with the estate planning process is a good way to give you peace of mind that all possible questions and concerns have been addressed and to ensure that your estate plan is legally valid and accurate.

 

In the event that you make small mistakes trying to handle things on your own, this might not affect you, but it will most certainly effect your loved ones named in the estate planning document. If you make a mistake, for example, or do not clearly articulate what you intend to happen to your assets, it may be more challenging for your loved ones to interpret this. This also means that there is a good chance that your estate will have to go through the probate process, further complicating an already difficult situation.
Thankfully, sitting down with an experienced professional gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone has thoroughly reviewed your individual estate plan and has made recommendations for you that help to target the passing on of assets, planning for your estate while you are still alive, determining who will step in as guardian for your minor children and minimizing any potential taxes. Consult with a lawyer now to get the benefit of working with a professional.

It’s Essential to Connect Personal Estate Planning and Business Succession Planning for Business Owners

April 11, 2017

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

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, there are 27.6 million businesses closely held in the United States. Business ownership and entrepreneurship are critical drivers of legacy creation as well as significant wealth, but it becomes even more important for the individual to approach estate planning from their personal perspective as well their business. 

Owners of closely held businesses should commit to succession planning and looking ahead for exit strategies as well as estate planning as well. Up to 80% of business owners, according to research conducted by the Family Business Institute, indicated that they will be able to pass their company on to the next generation.
However, business succession statistics actually show that there is a decrease in business survival. Up to 64% of business owners in 2015, did not have any business succession plan at all, putting their family’s greatest source of security and wealth at risk. You need to consult with an experienced business succession planning attorney as soon as possible to identify all of the opportunities to minimize your risk and this includes looking at succession planning and exit strategies as well.

Americans are Passing Away Within an Average of $62,000 of Debt

April 10, 2017

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

There is a good chance that you may pass away with some debts in your name. In fact, a recent study conducted by credit.com, identified that 73% of consumers have outstanding debt that was reported after they passed away. Those consumers carried an average balance of $12,875 in debt not associated with a mortgage. For an individual who had a mortgage, the debt was $61,554. 

More than 220 million consumers had their data crunched for this particular study. Among the 73% of consumers who passed away with debt, approximately 70% of them had credit card balances. The next most frequent kind of debt was a mortgage debt at 37% followed by auto loans, personal loans, and student loans. When you pass away, your debt may still affect the people that you leave behind. Debt belongs to a deceased individual or the deceased person’s estate.

In the event that there are enough assets to cover these debts, creditors are paid and then beneficiaries receive whatever is left afterwards. If there are not enough assets to satisfy debts, then creditors will lose out. There are many different ways that things can get messy in this process. It’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to understand how debt may influence your estate.

                                                                                                                  

Would a Domestic Asset Protection Trust Work for You?

April 6, 2017

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

Have you ever heard of a domestic asset protection trust? This is a tool in which you create a trust inside a U.S. jurisdiction in order to protect the person who is putting together the trust. One aspect that makes these different is that the person who creates the trusts and put assets into it is usually a beneficiary of the trust so that that person still gets the economic rewards of the assts placed into the trust. This can also guard against outside creditor claims, a primary reason why people want to engage in asset protection planning in the first place. 

There are many different reasons why you might want to take advantage of this type of trust. First of all, if you have a high net worth, you may want to remove the assets from being so closely connected to your individual assets in the event of a creditor claim. You might also be concerned about litigation risks that could expose your assets to judgments. These are two of the most common reasons why a personal will set up a meeting with an estate planning lawyer to walk through domestic asset protection trusts. There are several groups of people more likely to be targeted in lawsuits, including attorneys, officers and directors of public companies, and doctors. Often this is part of a bigger estate planning goal and can minimize fears about your personal assets being tapped by creditors or by lawsuits.

You might also have a person in your family who you would classify as a spendthrift or a person with disabilities. These kinds of trusts can be valuable tools for orchestrating the transfer of assets while giving the creator some peace of mind and comfort in knowing that all unique concerns have been considered.

Why the Suze Orman Trust is Dangerous

April 5, 2017

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

When approaching the estate planning process, it’s important to do so in a way that ensures you do all your research first. It’s the only way to verify whether or not you’re making the right decision for you. You can’t feel comfortable about your decision until you know that you have investigated all options and had a conversation with an experienced estate planning lawyer. 

Suze Orman provides a lot of financial advice on a broad range of topics, but she’s known for arguing that revocable living trusts in particular are some of the most valuable tools a person might use in the estate planning process. In particular, she argues that these can completely eliminate probate concerns and other expenses when you pass away. While in general this advice is accurate, it’s not a rule that applies to every situation. It can be dangerous to accept this as true across the board without also doing your own research and sitting down with your estate planning lawyer.

A revocable trust might not be right for everyone. In some situations, you might not need it and it can cost a great deal more to put together when compared with a will. The upfront costs, therefore, are much higher with a revocable living trust. In order for your trust to be valid and serve any purpose, you must transfer your probate assets into the trust itself. Any assets that are not transferred into the trust will still have to go through your state’s probate process. Remember that if you never take the steps to properly fund your trust, then you will not gain any benefits regarding the time or the costs of probate.

Orman has often shared that once the trust is funded, it will save you a tremendous amount of money by eliminating all the executor and attorney’s fees handled in probate. If you have indeed put all your assets inside the trust then there should be minimal expenses on that end, but this does not mean you will remove all fees paid in the probate process. To know whether or not something is right for your situation, schedule a sit down meeting with your lawyer to walk through the various expenses and what you should be prepared to deal with if you decide to use a revocable living trust. The best way to get answers is to have an experienced lawyer help you.

What is the Medicaid Five Year Look Back?

April 4, 2017

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

When planning ahead for your future, a common question that emerges with older adults has to do with Medicaid. This is because the cost of long-term care can be significant and you may need to rely on outside sources like Medicaid in order to afford the services you’ll need if you encounter a long-term care event. Medicaid is available to those individuals who do not have other sufficient assets in order to cover the cost of care. Since the federal government is sensitive to situations in which individuals might try to take advantage of federal help, they employ a number of strategies in order to ensure that the person applying is eligible to receive benefits through the Medicaid program. One of these strategies is the five year look back. Medicaid planning

You might be tempted to begin unloading all your assets as you get older to remove them from your estate as well as to increase your chances of qualifying for Medicaid if you should need it. If this move looks questionable, however, or if you make the decision too quickly without consulting with your estate planning lawyer, Medicaid may penalize you. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in, so it’s important to plan well in advance. The other downside of sudden decisions about your estate is that these could have tax consequences for your loved ones if you’re not careful, so it’s always well worth advance Medicaid planning with the help of an estate planning attorney.

You are ineligible for Medicaid if you transferred assets before applying for your benefits. The government will analyze whether you gave away assets in the five years prior to your application for benefits to determine whether or not you purposefully engaged in this behavior to minimize assets so you would appear eligible for the benefits.

There are legal and valuable strategies you can employ for the purposes of advance Medicaid planning. These should always be discussed directly with your Medicaid planning attorney.

 

What You Should Know About Probate and How to Avoid It

April 3, 2017

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

The topic of probate can generate many different questions for people approaching the estate planning process but one of the most common is how can I avoid it. Probate is the legal process in New Jersey to determine whether a deceased individual’s will is valid and genuine. Probate can also determine who the beneficiaries are when a person passes away without a will by handling this within the court.

The probate courts are responsible for appointing an executor who has the authority to dispose of any of the assets either as outlined by the deceased’s will or by the court, in situations in which a person doesn’t have a will. There are three common ways that you can avoid the probate process including:

  • Designating beneficiaries directly.
  • Using joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.
  • Using living trusts.

All of these can be extremely valuable strategies to outline a plan for you to pass on assets to your loved ones without the headache of having them go through the probate process. Probate can also be extremely public so putting together a trust can give you a layer of some privacy and also clarity about your plans that can be managed by the trustee when you pass away.

While some people may not be concerned about how probate is managed, it’s always a good idea to consider whether or not it makes sense to plan ahead to ensure things are as easy as possible for your loved ones. When you pass away, your family will be coping with the hardship of grief. You may be able to make things easier on them by charting out a process that avoids probate.