Monroe Township NJ Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Blog | Neel Shah - Part 2
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Your Estate Plan Doesn’t Have to Be a Failure

May 15, 2018

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

Estate planners already know and share often that many plans don’t produce the results the owner expected. The skills necessary to inherit the wealth may not have been passed down from one generation to another, meaning problems when assets are transferred between generations. Furthermore, heirs are not often prepared emotionally for the transition of their loved one passing and receiving a generous inheritance. Many of the failures associated with typical estate planning are not linked to the language in the will or tax strategies. 

Instead these failures are most often accumulated with the non-technical aspects of the plan, such as the human side. In fact, approximately 70% of estates incur losses or a reduction in family harmony.

According to research, there are two primary reasons for estate planning failures, and these have to do with the heirs not being prepared for the financial transition or not being familiar with the estate details. Setting aside time well in advance to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to review your concerns and needs.

When you have a lawyer from the outset of your decision to plan your estate, you’re in good hands with an experienced attorney.

Are You Prepared for Thousands of Days in Retirement?

May 14, 2018

Filed under: Aging In Place — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Many people who are looking ahead to their retirement may miss out on the fact that increasing longevity numbers show that once you have retired from the workforce, you may be spending as many as 8,000 days inside retirement. This means having an appropriate estate and retirement plan to guide you. plan for estate and retirement

Because people are living longer and staying healthier, it is not unlikely for someone in their mid-sixties now to enjoy a life expectancy of as many as 30 more years. There are many different opportunities and challenges that come prevalent with these concerns.

You may be thinking about how you intend to spend your days, and hopefully, you will already have retained the services of a financial advisor and an estate planning attorney. There are road maps out there of what to consider one year before retirement and five years before retirement.

Having a comprehensive financial plan that incorporates all of the assets you have worked so hard to save over the course of your lifetime, as well as what you might need to do in the event that you become incapacitated or need the assistance of a nursing home is very important.

There are many different concerns that should factor into your budget, including taxes, Medicare, social security, estate planning, insurance, and long-term care. Scheduling a time to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney is the first step towards guarding all of the assets you have generated

Most Common Financial Challenges Of Widows And Widowers

May 10, 2018

Filed under: Contingency Planning — Neel Shah @ 1:02 pm

Widows and widowers face unique financial challenges when approaching their future.  The sudden loss of a spouse can represent a distinct change in their life emotionally as well as financially.  When one spouse passes away, it is very common to see the division of an estate cause tension inside of family, and certain family members may even try to manipulate a surviving spouse into deviating from the plans previously established by the couple.  

Senior woman looking at dead husband’s picture

Widows are left to assist or support children, handle disputes, honor their spouses wishes and manage financial assets all on their own. Appropriate estate planning is necessary to minimize the opportunities for family members to take advantage of a surviving spouse.  Estate planning tools such as putting together a trust can help to ensure that the deceased spouse’s wishes are followed while maintaining a relationship as a friend or family member rather than as a bank or connection.

Couples can work together in advance of the loss of one or more person to figure out how to best avoid challenges down the road.  Conflicts that arise because of family members can often be avoided well in advance with the support of an experienced estate planning lawyer. Knowing the options at the outset and planning for the future can ease a lot of fear and pain in the process. 

New Study Can Reveal Alzheimer’s Symptoms 10 Years In Advance

May 9, 2018

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

A new study identifies that there is artificial intelligence that could help identify the early signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia-related problems approximately a decade before the actual symptoms begin to emerge in an individual patient. More than 67 MRI scans were explored from the Alzheimer’s Disease Narrow Imaging Initiative Database located at the University of Souther California, Los Angeles. Of those evaluated cases, 29 belonged to healthy individuals and 38 were from Alzheimer’s patients. The machine learning developments have shown significant promise for a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s since early detection is critical when it comes to treating this disease. long term care planning Alzheimers

When someone receives an earlier diagnosis, they can get treatment sooner rather than later and may have the opportunity to put their financial and legal affairs in order. After a diagnosis of Dementia affecting one of your parents, it is important to get their financial and legal orders in affair immediately while they are still able to make decisions for themselves. Otherwise, issues of mental capacity may arrive and could lead to a contest of the estate planning documents down the road.  

Did you know that once someone is diagnosed with a cognitive problem that the process of estate planning is much more difficult? The good news is that you have lots of options when you notice the early signs of Alzheimer’s and similar conditions. Proper planning can prevent problems for your loved ones and ensure that your wishes are followed when the time comes.

Retirement, Estate Planning Work Together

May 8, 2018

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

There are five core areas that you must focus on in order to cover all of your bases with regards to estate and retirement planning.  Many people often focus on one or the other and don’t realize the extent to which all of these assets are interconnected.  

Having a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to guide you through the process can increase your chances of success and the peace of mind provided by having a comprehensive plan that allows you plenty of assets to rely on in retirement, as well as a legacy plan to pass on those assets.

Having the right guide to assist you with your retirement plan, including financial professionals and an estate planning lawyer, can give you confidence about your future.  The five core areas that must be focused on for effective estate planning include income planning, investment planning, tax planning, healthcare planning, and legacy planning.

Leaving out any one piece of the puzzle could lead to challenges and problems down the road, and that is why it is strongly recommended that someone retain the services of experienced professionals in a team sooner rather than later.

Estate Planning For Both Spouses

May 7, 2018

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

The death of a spouse can generate numerous challenges for the surviving person in terms of the familiar, estate and financial responsibilities.  This is particularly challenging for someone who must suddenly step into a leadership role in these areas of their life when those tasks were previously associated with the now-deceased spouse.  get help with estate planning for both spouses

One of the most important steps for both spouses to take now in order to avoid one spouse being negatively affected in the future is to get a list of assets and where they are all located.  Finding these assets quickly in the event of a crisis or emergency can be very difficult if one person has not been primarily responsible for the family’s finances.

Managing the household budget or paying bills doesn’t always equate to being informed about life insurance policies, survivor benefits or brokerage accounts.  In the event that one spouse doesn’t know the other’s password, this can add an additional barrier that causes problems down the road.  Scheduling a consultation today with an experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended if you wish to have a better plan of your next steps.

What Happens to Basic Wills/Trusts After I Pass Away?

May 3, 2018

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

Basic trusts and wills are value estate planning tools that essentially assure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away.  If you do not have estate planning documents like this in place, you could make mistakes that could leave your heirs paying the price. 

This also increases the chances that your heirs may argue about who has a rightful claim over the property included in your estate, and you are essentially handing over the opportunity to make decisions about these issues to the state.  

The state may not come to a conclusion about what is in your best interest or the — what is in your beneficiaries best interest or what you might have listed yourself. Properly written trusts and wills go a long way towards articulating your individual goals and giving you a clear path going forward. If you do not have an experienced estate planning attorney to help you with these various documents, you could be exposed to a number of different challenges.  

Properly written trusts and wills should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure these strategies are still in line with your individual needs. The support of an extended planning attorney during this time is extremely valuable for identifying possible problems.

Who Is Taking Care Of Your 401(k) Plan?

May 2, 2018

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

Many people make regular deposits into their 401(k) plan, which is likely matched by an employer, but have you ever thought deeply about who is responsible for looking after that 401(k) plan?  This may be referred to as a fiduciary. There are a lot of stakes involved with the answers to these questions. 401 retirement estate planning

In order to help prepare them for retirement, more than 54 million people in the United States rely on 401(k) plans, but many of these plan participants don’t know how to use them properly or how they work.  

A 401(k) plan is essentially a special purpose trust that is generated by your employer to help you save for retirement. The plan trustees or the people responsible for managing it are fiduciaries, meaning that they have a legal responsibility to ensure that the 401(k) plan operates in your best interest. Plan trustees also verify that your 401(k) plan meets the compliance terms of the Employer Retirement Income Security Act, also referred to as ERISA.  

All plan participants must be treated fairly, which means that if you identify that someone has violated the fiduciary duties owed to you in your 401(k) plan, you may have ground for a lawsuit. Your 401(k) plan will come with a formal written document, the details, the operation of the plan. The support of an experienced estate planning can help you realize other types of benefits and assets you may have that should be incorporated into your estate plan.

Entrepreneurs Need Estate Planning, Too

May 1, 2018

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

Young entrepreneurs have a variety of different things on their plate, and many of them may be averse to estate planning because they are concerned with dealing with the day-to-day actions of running a business.  However, business succession planning, asset protection planning, and estate planning are all a critical component of owning a business. 

Typical financial plans include a number of different factors that are all weighted differently depending on your stage in life.  These include tax planning, estate planning, investing, and money management. You will also need to prioritize what is most important for you based on your values, desires, and needs. Ensuring that you’re headed in the right direction as a young entrepreneur typically begins by scheduling a team of professionals to help you with all of your various concerns.  

Having the support of knowledgeable professionals who have been working in this field for some time can help you avoid many of the most common pitfalls experienced by business owners, including lack of having a succession planning, not separating business from personal assets, and not considering how tax planning and estate planning work together for your individual assets.  

Scheduling a consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is frequently the first step in protecting your best interests and articulating a long-term plan for what will happen to you and your company.

Do I Still Need Life Insurance In Retirement

April 30, 2018

Filed under: Life Insurance — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

When you’re retired, your cash flow is extremely important, and there’s a good chance that you’ve spent a great deal of your working years planning specifically for retirement.  

A 25 year retirement giving you increasing numbers and longevity can be cause for concern particularly was you evaluate your various expenses and figure out what makes sense for you.  Life insurance is a vitally important form of protection during numerous different points of your life. Planning for the possibility of someone’s death can help with paying off the mortgage, replacing income, providing liquidity to pay estate taxes, and to establish children’s college funds.  There are times, however, when these needs come and go and the re-evaluation of your needs in retirement is extremely important.

There must be consideration about whether or not your life insurance policy is still serving you at this period in time. Unfortunately far too many people in or nearly retirement are continuing to pay their life insurance premiums out of a sense of obligation without evaluating whether it is necessary.  Many life insurance policies that were purchased for the purpose of paying an estate tax may no longer be needed due to updates in the estate tax planning.

And particularly if you are married, you would need to have substantial assets in order to even trigger the estate tax. If you are concerned about whether or not this affects you, schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer.

So You Are Nearing Retirement-What Financial Options Do You Need to Keep in Mind?

April 26, 2018

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

The closer you get to your age of retirement, the more likely you are to need to engage multiple financial professionals to get all the support that you can. Individuals who are nearing age 65 might not have a plan in place yet for their actual retirement and might not know how much is in their retirement and taxable accounts. 

However, scheduling a consultation with an experienced financial professional as well as others, such as an estate planning attorney, can help you to articulate the goals you need to have in kind. Proper planning can go a long way towards avoiding many of the most common challenges with your retirement.

An advisor can help to address many of the most common concerns presented by people getting close to retirement, including when it’s appropriate to file for social security, the most cost-effective possibilities to pay for health care including long-term care needs, how to stay ahead of inflation with your retirement planning without being exposed to too much risk, and more.

A robotic advisor or someone who only provides assistance on the internet might not be able to give you the customized solutions you need. Comprehensive financial advice is especially critical when you are approaching retirement because there are so many issues that need to be addressed effectively before you enter your retirement years.

Do You Have a Plan to Be Productive in Your Retirement?

April 25, 2018

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

You need a plan to be generous with your talents in your time in retirement. By having a plan, being a volunteer positively impacts you and outlines your goals for the future. When you have plan in line, you will be able to more effectively accomplish your goals and look forward to your retirement. People spend a great deal of their lives planning for retirement, but if you do not take the appropriate care to consider what you will do during that time, it can be a very frustrating transition. get help with retirement and estate planning

A recent report by the Corporation for National and Community Service identified that there is a strong relationship between health and volunteering. Those who volunteer in their retirement years have greater functional ability, lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression later in life when compared with those who do not volunteer.

Mentoring and teaching are two positive ways to make investments of your time in your future. Planning to be generous with the wealth you have accumulated over the course of your life can also help you and your loved ones significantly. For example, you will be able to chart a plan going forward for how you will pass on your assets that you have spent your entire life working to collect.

Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended if you find yourself in this situation.

How to Avoid Financial Procrastination

April 24, 2018

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

Far too many Americans have put off appropriate financial planning and this means that they find themselves in the midst of a financial planning catastrophe when it is too late to take many steps to protect yourself. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid financial procrastination and these can be greatly assisted along by scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney and financial advisor. A new study by Career Builder found that nearly eight out of ten Americans live paycheck to paycheck. If you want to remove yourself from the common challenges faced by people in this situation, you need to recognize that missed financial opportunities abound. avoid financial stress with the right lawer

You know you need to take action and you may plan on taking action someday, but without putting a plan in place, you’re simply procrastinating. Many people assume that they won’t fall subject to any of the most common issues that could put them in need of immediate financial help. Some of the most common mistakes that you can make that could cause you to become a financial procrastinator include:

  •   Paying only the minimum on your credit card.
  •   Not having emergency savings.
  •   Ignoring estate planning basics such as setting aside time to put together critical documents for while you’re still alive and after you pass away.
  •   Not getting serious about retirement, including ignoring the most beneficial retirement planning opportunities.

Setting aside a time to consult with an experienced estate planning professional and other financial advisors is strongly recommended.

I Think My Estate Could Include Crypto Currency

April 23, 2018

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

Do you currently own stock in any cryptocurrency? If so, it’s easy to forget about these funds inside your virtual wallet but they should definitely be included in your estate planning process. If you don’t articulate all of the details surrounding your cryptocurrency, there’s a good chance that the family members who intended to receive it may never actually see it. do you have cryptocurrency in your estate

This makes it all the more important to retain the services of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who is staying on the cutting edge of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency has become a recent phenomenon but it is one that is certainly important and should be incorporated into your estate planning documents. What many people forget about cryptocurrency is that in addition to passing on the assets themselves, you will need to share details surrounding the private key.

Your private key is essentially like a password that is used to access the assets. If you put it in your will that you want someone to receive your cryptocurrency benefits but don’t give them the information they need to use the private key, they will likely never be able to get access to your cryptocurrency. Scheduling a time to talk with an experienced estate planning attorney is strongly recommended if you have crypto currency or other special issues in your estate plan.

Who’s Keeping an Eye on Your 401(K) Plan?

April 19, 2018

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

Have you ever wondered who is responsible for reviewing your 401(k) plan and ensuring that it is working for you? More than 54 million people across the United States rely on their 401(k) plan as their primary method to save for retirement, but many plan participants don’t know who’s responsible for managing it and how to use it the most effectively. 

Identifying who is responsible for your 401(k) plan can help give you greater clarity about working towards your retirement goals. A 401(k) plan, simply put, is a special purpose trust identified by your employer to help you save for retirement. This is overseen by one or more individuals known as plan trustees.

These plan trustees are legally responsible fiduciaries that must make sure that the 401(k) plan operates for the benefit of the plan participants and the participants’ beneficiaries. Furthermore, the plan trustees have to verify that your plan complies with the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which requires that every plan participant is treated fairly. A formal written document should be included with your 401(k) plan about how the plan does operate and the summary plan description can also be a valuable piece of information to review.

Bringing this information to your meetings with your financial planner or your estate planning attorney can help position you to better understand how this will protect your future.

 

Watch Out for Telephone Tax Scams This Year

April 18, 2018

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

The elderly are exposed to all different types of possible financial fraud, and unfortunately, tax scams are on the rise. Telephone tax scams have become extremely prominent in recent years and despite the fact that there have been featured in the news media and warnings from the federal government, it is tempting to want to deal with these tax situations sooner rather than later. Chances are though, however, that the IRS is not calling you directly. 

Some of the most common forms of these telephone tax scams right now, tell a person that they are going to be prosecuted if they do not make a payment immediately. Tax scams ate always on the rise nearing tax season, particularly any phone calls that threaten criminal prosecution, lawsuits or police arrest.

The IRS says to avoid giving any personally identifying information over the phone. More than likely when the IRS reaches out to a person who has a tax issue, this will be done in writing and will come on official IRS letterhead. Over the phone, people may threaten you and try to encourage you to give personal identifying details, such as your bank account, to make a payment. But this is not the IRS. Many of these criminals impersonate IRS agents and promise you a big refund if you give them private information.

According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, reports that were filed with that agency have led to more than $54 million in payments from victims to these phone scams. Being aware of these scams is one of the best ways to protect your assets from being decimated, now or in the future. If you have concerns about how to protect your assets appropriately, schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer today.

Can I Amend My Existing Trust?

April 17, 2018

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

If you have a lot of changes to make to a trust document and you have a revocable living trust, you may be curious about the best way to amend it. Many people may be tempted to simply write their changes directly on the trust document and initial it. However, you need to sit down with your knowledgeable estate planning attorney and figure out whether or not this is true in your case. Since not every trust is amendable, you’ll first want to figure out whether you do have an amendable and revocable trust. avoid this trust mistake7You should not make changes directly to the trust document and initial them. You must use an amendment to a trust to reflect your changes. Amendments are relatively simple documents but they should be put together by your lawyer. These amendments acknowledge the ability to make changes, amend the trust and then provide that the remaining portion of the trust stays in full effect, despite the new amendment. If you’ve already amended the trust a few times, or if you have a significant amount of changes to incorporate on your trust, this can be very difficult for a trustee to follow. This can lead to confusion and conflict down the line, so make sure you talk through what is best in your case.

There are ways to amend an existing trust that essentially creates a brand new trust and this could come as a complete restatement. You’ll want to talk this over with your knowledgeable estate planning attorney to figure out what is truly best for you.

What You Should Know About Vetting a Financial Advisor

April 16, 2018

Filed under: Finances — Neel Shah @ 2:37 pm

So you’ve already got to the point where you recognize you could benefit from a conversation with an experienced financial advisor. Along with a CPA and an estate planning attorney, a financial advisor can become an important component of your team of trusted professionals. You’ll want to interview several different options for a financial advisor and look into their backgrounds and references from other clients before making a final decision. hire a lawyer and a financial pro for estate planning

The initial interview can help you clarify whether or not this person has served as a fiduciary before, their individual certifications, and the types of services they offer. You can also ask more about their specialties and areas of focus.

The advisor’s minimum investable asset requirement is something you should also ask about during the initial interview. Anyone will want to know exactly how they will be charged by a financial advisor, including how much you’ll pay for advisory services and fees associated with underlying holdings if this person manages your portfolio. Advisors charge by different models, including by the hour or as a percentage of assets under management.

You can verify that the appropriate planner has the CFP certification if this is important to you, and it is strongly recommended that you consider working with someone who has done the extra work to achieve this certification. Hiring an experienced financial advisor is just one piece of the puzzle. Make sure you identify a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer so that the documents and strategies you put together can all be reviewed in full and work with one another.

What You Need to Know About a Supplemental Special Needs Trust

April 12, 2018

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

You already know as a parent of child with special needs that you need to look to the future with care. If you’re no longer able to around to help support a child with special needs, things in your child’s life could become very difficult. It’s natural to want to plan ahead, but you should know that the way you do this can have big ramifications for your future. Mistakes made could cost your loved one government benefits. plan ahead with a special needs trust

Planning ahead for a child with a disability is extremely important for any parent who finds themselves in a position of looking to the future. A carefully constructed trust known as a supplemental special needs trust can help your child not just now but well into the future. This can allow your child to receive necessary funds for his or her lifestyle, without jeopardizing critical government benefits like supplemental security income and Medicaid.

For friends and extended family, this is an additional way to help provide care if something happens to you and you are no longer able to support them. Families that are in a difficult financial situation may delay putting together a trust, thinking that if they have no money to contribute currently, that they don’t need to do so. However, a supplemental special needs trust could be made the beneficiary of your estate and your life insurance policy, ensuring that those assets are not transferred immediately to the child when you pass away, which could jeopardize his or her ability to receive those critical government benefits.

Estate planning and financial planning, particularly as it relates to special needs children is not expensive and can be carefully constructed with the help of an attorney.  

 

I’ve Got a Long-Term Care Policy. Should I Stop Paying or Keep It?

April 11, 2018

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

If you’ve had a long-term care policy for several decades and have continued to pay the premiums, this is an important component of being able to protect yourself against decimating your savings. However, many people who have long-term care policies have reported that these premiums have increased significantly in recent years. Do you have an LTC plan?

Some people are concerned about whether or not they should let the policy lapse or continue paying for it. The decision about whether or not to continue paying the premiums on your long-term policy can only be made after evaluating your individual financial situation. If you have significant assets but no long-term care policy, a sudden incapacitating event that sends you or your spouse to the nursing home, could completely eliminate all of your savings. With substantial assets you may not be able to get support for Medicaid, at least for a period of time after you’ve spent down your individual assets and wealth. A long-term care policy must be carefully considered as part of your vision.

While many companies used to offer long term care insurance, many of those smaller businesses ultimately closed up shop after becoming insolvent. Today there are only a few major insurance companies that offer long term care. The older long-term care policies will typically have better benefits than the newer ones, so allowing your long-term care policy to lapse could be a big mistake if you are not careful.  

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