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What to Do After a Loved One Passes Away

July 6, 2016

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

 

The death of a close friend or a family member can rock your world in big ways. There are many different legal matters that need to be addressed as soon as possible after a loved one passes away. Although this can be an overwhelming time, understanding the steps to take can be important.funeral

First of all, pets need to be taken care of.

Your loved one may have listed directions about who is to receive the pets, but you need to ensure that these animals have food, water, and shelter during the interim period.

Second, make sure that you think carefully about the security of your loved ones home.

Someone should be put on duty in order to turn the lights on and off regularly, collect newspapers, visit the house and keep an eye on it, collect mail every day. May also be a good idea to change the locks. Unfortunately, some criminals take advantage of obituaries being published in the newspaper as an attempt to break into the home, and this is particularly true if it is believed that the loved one had access to prescription medications.

Next, remove any perishable items from the home and set up mail forwarding.

This may not be easily accomplished until someone else has been formally appointed as a personal representative of the estate.

Next, begin a spreadsheet or a log of all the time and/or expenditure associated with managing the deceased’s affairs and arrange for a visit to the safe deposit box.

You may also want to cut off or return any credit cards that are in the deceased individual’s name, since it is illegal to use them. This process could be overwhelming, but this is not the case when you meet with a New Jersey estate planning attorney to talk through your options.

 

Avoiding Estate Planning Mistakes: Unfunded Living Trusts

June 16, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Planning for Attorney,Estate Planning For Business Owners — Neel Shah @ 12:22 pm

When used properly, living trusts can be valuable tools for passing on assets. When planned for early on, you can really maximize what a beneficiary gets out of a living trust. Unfortunately, individuals don’t always plan correctly with the living trust. If you forget to put any assets into the trust, for example, you’ll miss out on the opportunity for assets to be passed to heirs outside of the probate process. After the trust is set up, you’ll need to retitle assets into the trust’s name.

Avoiding Estate Planning Mistakes Unfunded Living Trusts
(Photo Credit: kiplinger.com)

Simply listing the assets you plan to transfer with a schedule attached to the trust may not be enough. The schedule is more like a notification of the assets you do plan to transfer, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve actually transferred those assets. Real property is going to require a deed and bank and stock accounts will need to be retitled by financial institutions. You can speak with a professional estate planner to learn more about the steps to follow after establishing a living trust.

There are numerous trust possibilities that can help maximize asset value and minimize the influence of taxes, but you have to follow through on setting them up properly. To learn more about living trusts as an estate planning tool, email info@lawesq.net or reach out at 732-521-9455.

The N.Y. State of Mind: Changes to New York Gift Tax and Estate Laws

May 1, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning for Attorney,Estate Taxes — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 6:00 pm

The NY State of Mind Changes to New York Gift Tax and Estate LawsAt the end of March, Governor Cuomo approved changes to New York’s estate and gift tax laws while also making amendments to income tax rules. One of the most important changes was in relation to the estate tax exclusion amount. The amount that an individual can pass without being hit by the New York estate tax, which was previously $1 million, has now been increased based on the follow specifications:

  • For those individuals who pass away between April 1, 2014 and April 1, 2015, the exclusion amount is increased to $2,062,500
  • For those individuals who pass away between April 1, 2015 and April 1, 2016, the exclusion amount is increased to $3,125,000.
  • For those individuals who pass away between April 2, 2016 and April 1, 2017, the exclusion amount is $4,187,500
  • For those individuals who pass away between April 1, 2017 and January 1, 2019, the exclusion amount is $5,250,000.

Starting in 2019, the exclusion amount will be indexed for inflation purposes. Presently, the New York estate tax will stay at 16 percent. It’s also worth knowing that there’s an estate tax cliff for those with taxable estates between 100 percent and 105 percent of the state exclusion amount. There’s never been a better time to meet with an estate planning specialist to ensure that you are maximizing protection of your assets. Since estate planning and tax rules are complex and constantly changing, an annual review is recommended so that your documents and plans are fully up to date. To capitalize on your assets with a comprehensive estate plan, contact us at 732-521-9455 or email us at info@lawesq.net

For the Furry Ones in Your Life: Estate Planning With Pets in Mind

April 25, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Planning for Attorney,Estate Planning For Business Owners,Estate Planning for Children — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 8:10 am

Although many people have heard about the traditional aspects of estate planning, like a will, it’s all too often forgotten that you may have others you need to include in your plans. The majority of houses across the country have pets inside, and it’s worth considering what you’d like to happen to your animals if something happens to you. Pets are treated as personal property, so it’s crucial that you do a little research about where you’d like them to go.

For the Furry Ones in Your Life Estate Planning With Pets in Mind
(Photo Credit: the-hunting-dog.com)

A pet trust, for example, can outline the type of care your animals will receive after you pass away. With a funded pet trust, you can rest assured that your animals will be taken care of no matter what. This trend is expanding in use across the estate planning industry. A first step in your pet plan is to write a description of all animals, including any distinguishing characteristics. This helps to avoid copycat pets or mistakes receiving care that you intended for your own animals. Microchip numbers, too, should be included for identity verification.

You can work with an estate planning professional to determine the cost of care for your animal. Factor in vet care, routine medications, any special supplements, pet insurance, and food, multiplied by the life expectancy of your pet. Talking this over with any family members can be helpful for establishing those who may want to care for your animals, too. Have questions about pet trusts or other planning tools? Send us an email at info@lawesq.net or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Estate Planning and Reproductive Technology

April 24, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Planning for Attorney,Estate Planning For Business Owners,Estate Planning for Children — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 11:33 am

Unfortunately, estate planning law hasn’t really stayed on pace with reproductive technology and rights, generating quandaries about inheritance rights. It would make sense that children conceived after the death of an individual (or statements denying inheritance rights about these individuals) should be included in estate planning documents.

forbes.com
(Photo credit: forbes.com)

A trust might be a more appropriate vehicle for managing inheritance rights in this way when compared with a will. A comprehensive estate plan, too, can also be valuable with regard to genetic material. Much the law with regard to inheritance rights and genetic material is very specific to each state, which is why it’s recommended to work with a professional if you’re concerned about children conceived posthumously. In many states, the law has not provided a framework for the disposition of embryos or gametes at the death of the donor.

While not every estate plan will include such instructions and details, it’s critical that those in this situation think about whether those individuals conceived later will have any inheritance rights. Planning in advance for this and documenting your wishes is a vital step in ensuring that your wishes are carried out after you have passed away. Advance planning can be complex, but the process is made easier when working with an experienced estate planning lawyer. To learn more about complex estate planning needs involving reproductive issues, contact us at 732-521-9455 or email us at info@lawesq.net

About an Angel: Estate Planning Lessons from Farrah Fawcett

February 20, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Planning for Attorney,Executor,Legacy Planning — Neel Shah @ 10:00 am

Recently, a number of legal battles have stemmed from Farrah Fawcett’s death. Perhaps most notably, the University of Texas sued Fawcett’s partner Ryan O’Neal for taking Andy Warhol’s famed Farrah Fawcett painting from Fawcett’s home after her death. A recent article discusses what can be learned from the legal mess.

Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett (Photo credit: rocor)

Although most families do not own million dollar items such as Warhol paintings, it is not uncommon for families to get into similar legal fights concerning valuable or sentimental property left behind after a loved one dies. These fights are also common when a person gifts a piece of personal property before his or her death. Often, these gifts are inconsistent with the person’s estate planning documents, leading to a fight over whether the gift was valid.

In order to avoid similar fate, it is important to make your wishes concerning specific personal items exceedingly clear. If you are aware of a particular object that may cause fighting amongst your heirs, explain its disposition in your will. If you would like to give it away before your death, discuss the gift with your other heirs. If they understand your reasoning, they will be less likely to file suit after your death.

 

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