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The Most Fundamental Error You Can Make in the Estate Planning Process

June 21, 2017

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


Far too many studies show that Americans who are most in need of estate planning have done absolutely nothing to protect themselves. Some of the most common estate planning mistakes can have a significant impact not just on you but also on your beneficiaries when you pass away.

Here are the most common mistakes you can make:

  • Failing to update you will. Many people believe that their will is a ‘set it and forget it’ document, but if you get divorced or have any other major life changes, your will needs to be updated.
  • Not having a will. Up to 64% of people living in the United States do not have a will at all. Many believe that they just haven’t gotten around to it or that they didn’t need one, both of which can be catastrophic mistakes.
  • Overlooking the benefits of a trust. Wills only account for how your property will be distributed when you pass away but trusts go on for a set period governing the distribution of those assets. They can also provide greater control and privacy.
  • Not being realistic about your heirs. Make sure you consider whether or not your beneficiaries have the emotional and financial capacity to handle money appropriately.
  • Choosing the wrong trustee or executor. Choosing the individuals who will help step in and make decisions for you or to assist your family when you pass away can be extremely important. Make sure that the individuals that you have chosen understand the responsibility and are willing to accept it. You may also need to appoint contingency people to serve in this role in the event that the person you originally selected passes away.

Tips for Making Any Retirement Goals Stick

June 20, 2017

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


Planning ahead for your retirement is important in conjunction with your estate planning. A study by Fidelity Investments recently identified that up to one-third of people hope to make financial resolutions they can stick to. retirement and estate planning

There are six different tips that you can follow to ensure that your retirement goals stay on track. These include:

  • Breaking your goal into smaller chunks.
  • Learning where you currently stand by assessing how much money is already in your retirement account and how much more you will need to accomplish your estate planning goals. You can use Fidelity’s retirement score calculator to assess your retirement savings needs as they stand now.
  • Write down your goal and post it somewhere that you can see it every day. Research shows that this increases your chances of success.
  • Share your goal with a person you trust, like a relative, spouse, trusted advisor or close friend.
  • Track your progress and make it into a game. Checking your savings on a regular basis can help motivate you to continue with the progress you’ve already made.
  • Put your savings on auto pilot by signing up for an automatic withholding out of your paycheck, either through an arrangement with your financial institution or through your 401(k) plan at work.

Employing all of these tips together dramatically increases the chances that you’ll be successful when setting a new retirement goal. Staying on top of your retirement planning will allow you to envision the future more successfully and have less anxiety about the prospect of leaving the workforce.

Planning for Better Health and Retirement

June 15, 2017

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


If you are not saving enough for your retirement, then you might want to consider adjusting your health and exercise habits to allow you to work longer. A new study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies identified that 39% of people globally who retired earlier than they expected, 29% of them did so for health-related reasons. In the United States alone, 61% of retirees left their jobs sooner than planned and this was the highest rate around the world. 

A person in poor health was more likely to plan to work to age 70 or beyond and never retire when compared with those in excellent health. Although there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to work for as long as you intend to make up for retirement savings shortfalls, keeping yourself healthy is one of the best bets for continued employment. This certainly gives you the most opportunities to determine how long you wish to stay in the workplace. Only 58% of the respondents in this survey reported eating healthily and just over half reported avoiding negative behaviors like smoking or drinking too much.

You can reap numerous benefits for maintaining good health in the decades that are leading up to retirement. Taking care of yourself reduces your healthcare expenses and allows you to invest this in retirement to make up for a savings shortfall, and your retirement healthcare costs will be decreased. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended if you are approaching retirement.

Here’s What to Cover in Your Mid-Year Estate Planning Analysis

June 13, 2017

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

It’s the middle of the year which seems like a great time to mentally check out and go on vacation. However, it’s appropriate to conduct a mid-year estate planning checklist. Having a consultation with your New Jersey estate planning attorney is one way to ensure that all of your materials are still on track and cover your unique needs from an estate planning perspective. Review any trust agreements and your existing will. 

Over the course of a year and even in the last six months, your professional and your personal life could have changed dramatically. The next step is to consider whether the fiduciaries you’ve named are still appropriate. Significant responsibilities are aligned with your trustees and executors so they should be people that you trust. Likewise, review your financial powers of attorney and determine whether the beneficiary designations listed on your retirement accounts and your life insurance policies are still appropriate.

Any existing insurance coverage should be evaluated. If major life changes have occurred such as the birth of a child or a divorce, it may be appropriate to update some or all of your estate planning materials. One big mistake that people make is failing to fund a trust. During your mid-year estate planning review, you may wish to discuss your opportunities to fund a trust with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Talking to an attorney early on will help you identify your short term as well as your long-term plans as it relates to your estate. Passing on as much wealth as possible to a future generation or to charities may be one of your goals for minimizing taxes and determining appropriate vehicles for passing on this material are common reasons why you may wish to consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer.

New Aging in America Study Results

June 5, 2017

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


A new study has analyzed data on aging in the U.S. and how people nearing retirement feel about it overall. Plenty of government data indicates that there are two key factors influencing the aging population in America: longevity and the rising cost of healthcare. For anyone nearing retirement age, it’s important to consider how the assets you have set aside can help you accomplish your retirement planning goals and assist you through a long and healthy life. new aging in America study


This most recent study, completed by Felician University, explored how college students feel about their own aging. This is a unique perspective that has not often been covered in previous research. Typically, projects focus on those nearing retirement age or those who have passed it. Understanding the perspectives of younger people, though, highlights the value of long-term views with it comes to issues like investing, asset protection, and estate planning.

Most of the students in the study felt that they believed they would need assistance with activities of daily living after age 85, but that they hoped to have enough money to continue living independently even past that point. Most study respondents indicated that they knew they would need help planning financially for their elderly years, but that they didn’t know at what age that would become appropriate.

The findings of this study highlight a key point: those with the most potential to begin working now towards their long-term goals have no idea where to start. This makes it all too easy to put off retirement planning or estate planning until your options are more limited down the line. Planning now instead puts you in the driver’s seat for your future goals.




No Heirs? You Still Need to Plan an Estate

June 1, 2017

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

Not having any direct heirs might seem like an easy out when it comes to estate planning, but skipping over this process could be a big mistake. Make sure you’ve taken the opportunity to sit down with an experienced estate planning lawyer to talk through all the options. You may be able to make use of assets inside your estate to benefit charities or others, but talking with a lawyer can help you understand your choices. estate planning without heirs

Most people assume that if they don’t have a substantial amount in savings then they don’t need to worry about estate planning. What about your 401(k)? Or your life insurance policy? These items may already be in place but could require that you name someone to get these benefits when you pass away. These items pass away outside of your typical estate plan, so you need to have an awareness about who you name as beneficiary and whether that will change over time.

The right estate planning attorney can tell you more about philanthropic options if you wish to get involved in giving some of your assets to charity. Setting up plans in advance allows you to leave as much as possible to your other loved ones if you wish or to a charity. Without planning, the courts will take matters into their discretion when deciding what happens to your belongings and assets after you pass away. Even if you think you don’t have any heirs, you probably still want to exercise some control over your estate plan. Don’t wait to find out how you can pass on assets and gifts to others while you’re still alive or after you pass away.

Are You Making These Big Estate Planning Mistakes?

May 31, 2017

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

The most troubling aspect of mistakes made in the estate planning process is that it’s your beneficiaries who have to deal with the consequences of poor planning or no planning at all. Once you pass away, it is your loved ones who have to step in and manage your estate and any confusion associated with it. estate planning mistakes

The good news is that many of these mistakes can easily be avoided by consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer early on. Having a relationship with someone you can trust can benefit you tremendously when you have questions about how your shifting life circumstances will influence your future.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to considering the future of their own needs while they are still alive or passing on their assets and legacy after they pass away:

  • Not updating beneficiaries on life insurance policies or retirement accounts
  • Setting up a trust but failing to fund it
  • Using a do-it-yourself will that is not legally valid
  • Not telling anyone where the most recent version of your will is stored
  • Failing to consider how your assets may be impacted by long-term care needs in the future
  • Not thinking about estate planning and retirement planning as a joint process.

Setting up a meeting now with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help you uncover the strategies that will help you accomplish your goals and give you the peace of mind that comes with advanced planning. Don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney who can help you navigate these complex and extremely important situations.


Protecting Your Retirement Accounts from Dementia

May 25, 2017

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

Advanced directives, trust agreements and durable powers of attorney are all used to help clients on a regular basis when that client is approaching older ages. One additional step that often needs to be taken is considering a potential decline in your cognitive abilities. Running out of money is frequently at the top of the list for any elderly individual when it comes to what concerns them the most.

Living off of the interest put inside a CD is no longer a viable option given health care concerns and longevity in the United States. Sometimes clients are forced into riskier investments with the hope of better returns as a result. Individuals must remain knowledgeable about keeping an eye on all of their retirement accounts to guard against risks as well as to have a contingency plan for an unexpected problem that could have a devastating impact on their retirement account. Your account is at a much higher risk if you are not paying attention to the potential damage you’re exposing yourself to as a result of a future decline in your mental health. While everyone hopes to live a long and healthy life, it is not always possible to anticipate a sudden disability or cognitive decline.

dementia proof estate planning

Large financial institutions in recent years have recognized the desire held by elderly individuals to have better interest rates and have thus created plans that will guard against market losses but would still give an opportunity for higher returns with very little risks to the principle. This is one of the best ways to protect your retirement investments from a dementia event in the future.

Talking to an estate planning lawyer can help you figure out the best way to protect the investments you have worked so hard to grow over the course of your life. There’s a great deal of importance in the planning process, so don’t hesitate to get the help you need.


Nearly 70% of Americans Will Need Long Term Care at Some Point

May 16, 2017

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

There is a good chance that you’ll need help at some point in the future with everyday tasks like eating, dressing and bathing. You may also need medical care over an extended period of time. long term care planning for the elderly

A 2005 study indicated that 69% of those individuals aged 65 and beyond will need long term care at some point in the future. However, many people are not prepared with how to plan for it and how to safeguard against the potential decimation of their own retirement and savings as a result of a long-term care event.

Many people assume that Medicare will help pay for any long-term care expenses. But the truth is that Medicare does not cover most long-term care expenses because these are not classified as medical treatment. While Medicare will pay for the first 100 days of care in a nursing home, and Medicaid will cover some of the costs of long-term expenses, the Medicaid program is intended for low-income individuals and will not begin until your income is below the state threshold. Retirees with a lot of assets or with high income may never qualify for Medicaid without an advanced planning strategy, so long-term care insurance can be a huge assistance.

While premiums can be very high, signing up for a policy now while you are young and healthy is strongly recommended as this gives you the best chance to get a lower premium. Long term care insurance can give you peace of mind that your assets will be protected and that you have a safety net should something happen to you. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an elder law attorney about your future planning options for government benefits and your own retirement.

High Net Worth Families Now More Comfortable Sharing Concerns About Their Money

May 15, 2017

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

According to a new study conducted by Wilmington Trust, high net worth families are more comfortable talking about their money and how it will be distributed among beneficiaries than past generations did. The current generation holding the wealth is more comfortable sharing the financial details with their grandchildren and children who will eventually inherit those same funds. That older generation, however, did not receive much details about the family wealth from their parents. Have you shared information about your future plans with your loved ones? If you have not taken this step, you may want to reconsider whether or not someone, such as your attorney or your future executor, knows your intentions and where to find the relevant documents. share your estate plans with family

According to the study, only 33% of wealth holders got similar information from their benefactors although 48% of them shared total financial information with the heirs. 57 families with at least $20 million in assets were included in the study. Of those included, 72% had at least $50 million in assets.

According to the results of that study, 30% of the wealth holders who were not comfortable sharing information said that was because they feared that would demotivate the beneficiaries. However, two-thirds of those inheritors planned to continue working and would not alter their lifestyle. Sharing information about the family wealth and how it will be passed on to somebody else can be an indication of a desire or even an obligation to protect a family’s wealth in future generations.


Why You Need to Have a Conversation with Your Elderly Parents About the Difference Between a Will and Beneficiary Designations

May 4, 2017

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

Unfortunately, some adult children find out too late that their loved ones did not take all the necessary steps as it relates to estate planning. This can compromise the integrity of what the decedent wanted to pass along particularly if the will was updated but the beneficiary designations on bank accounts, retirement accounts or life insurance policies were not. will and beneficiary designations

The companies that have those beneficiary designations are responsible for adhering to the last filed materials by the decedent, meaning that even if the will stipulates that someone is to receive half or all of the overall estate, those beneficiary designations are cleared separately. This means that if a person did not update their life insurance policy and a spouse they had divorced from is still listed as the beneficiary, that individual would still be entitled legally to receive any and all benefits under that life insurance policy to which they were previously entitled.

It is extremely important to ensure that your loved ones update their documents on both ends as it relates to estate planning tools like wills as well as beneficiary designation forms including those with life insurance policies. Consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you accomplish this goal. It is essential that your parents understand that these are two separate things and they both should be updated if they intend to update their estate plan purposes overall.


Liquid vs. Illiquid Assets to Leave Your Loved Ones

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

Estate planning is about more than deciding that you want to leave things behind to your loved ones- it’s also about deciding what you’ll be leaving behind and how it makes the most sense for your family members and friends. What they are able to do with those assets could have a big impact on their future. leaving behind assets to your loved ones

Taking an inventory of all of your assets while you are still alive allows you to determine the best strategies for your estate planning overall. You might decide that some of these assets should be gifted to individuals while you are still alive or placed inside a trust for the purposes of asset protection or estate planning.

Consider liquidity as well when you determine what assets you would like to leave behind to your family members. A liquid asset is any asset that can easily be converted to cash with little impact on the price of that asset. if your estate is mostly made up of hard assets, your heirs may be forced to sell these for a discounted price in order to raise the funds necessary to pay for the estate tax.

Considering all of these complex issues is much easier when you identify a New Jersey estate planning attorney who has extensive experience in this field. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced New Jersey estate planning lawyer to talk more about the assets you intend to leave behind and the most appropriate strategies for doing so.



How to Effectively Approach Your Digital Accounts Before You Pass Away

May 3, 2017

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

There’s plenty of discussion about the benefits of traditional estate planning but you may also need to consider how your digital accounts are included as well. Most people underestimate the number of digital accounts that they truly have. Choosing to inventory these and listing all of the appropriate passwords and username information can make it easier to identify what you want to happen to them after you pass away. 

There’s a good chance that you’ll have different plans for different accounts. For example, you may wish to memorialize your Facebook account but have other accounts closed entirely. If you do not follow the terms of service listed on each individual website, however, your digital executor may face challenges trying to carry out your wishes. Bear in mind that each website might have its own rules requiring your executor to show proof that the action they intend to take is in line with what you wanted to occur.

Getting the proper documentation well in advance by consulting with an estate planning attorney can help you with this. You can also help avoid some of these challenges by backing up your files. Downloading all of the digital assets to an external hard drive, for example, will make it much easier for an executor to access after you pass away. Make sure that every time you add a social media or other digital account that you add this information to your records. Make sure you note accounts that you have set to auto delete after a certain period of inactivity. This will make things much easier when you approach the estate planning process.

Planning Ahead if You Intend to Give Assets to Your Children Differently in Your Estate

May 2, 2017

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

Although the most popular way to approach your estate plan is to leave all assets equally to all your children. However, there are many situations where parents might apply logical reasoning to determine that unequal inheritances are a better approach. For example, if you have a child with special needs, he or she may benefit from a special needs trust to manage their disability-related concerns. 

An older child may make more money than the others leaving the younger children with a greater need for inheritance, or there are situations in which you may wish to completely disinherit an estranged child. Unequal inheritances, however, can lead to numerous problems including ending sibling relationships, will contests, and hurt feelings. if you intend to avoid fighting over children among the different inheritance amounts, it is essential to use trusts instead of wills.

If you pass away with assets in your name alone and only have a will, those assets will go through a probate proceeding. Family conflict with the use of wills is common because children have to receive legal notice with a copy of the will.

Each child may show up in probate court with their own individual lawyer and contest the will. The associated expense and the frustration of litigation can drag on for years. When you use a trust instead of a will, you decrease the chances of family conflict associated with the inheritance. Trusts effectively avoid probate because you transfer assets into the trust while you’re still alive and the trust determines what happens to those assets when you pass away and the children will not necessarily receive legal notice. Consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney if you would like to discuss this in further detail.

Do You Really Owe Your Kids an Inheritance?

May 1, 2017

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

It is never easy to approach the topic of estate planning for anyone. One of the most common reasons that people are uncomfortable with this topic as a whole is that they are concerned that talking about it means reflecting on their own mortality. should you leave behind an inheritance?

This is certainly a challenging act by approaching your estate planning but things can become even more complicated and you may begin to wonder whether or not you owe your children an inheritance and the best ways for leaving behind assets. A recent study conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute indicated that only 46% of baby boomers felt that it was important to leave an inheritance behind to loved ones. In the past, however, that number was closer to the two-thirds rate.

Many people in mid-life expect to spend everything that they have before they pass away; an indication that longevity numbers are certainly having an impact on people’s ability to stretch their retirement income. This also highlights the potentially catastrophic cost of long-term care in health issues.

Planning ahead is key if you do intend to leave behind an inheritance. If you don’t make the proper plans for it, you could be setting up your hires for numerous problems. The state and federal government could end up taking a tremendous amount out in terms of taxes and you could also expose your beneficiaries having this information tapped into by creditors. Leaving behind a legacy is a common goal for many people engaged in the estate planning process and you can accomplish this by consulting directly with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer.

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.


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.

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