Monroe Township NJ Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Blog | Neel Shah - Part 2
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What Role Does Your Community Play in Estate Planning?

October 17, 2017

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

 

As you tackle the subject of estate planning, you may have questions about what happens to excess money if you have already considered all the needs of your unique loved ones. After you have taken the necessary steps to minimize taxes and maximize the value of the assets you’re passing on to your loved ones, you will also want to contemplate what will happen to the remaining assets. NJ estate planning

Giving things away to charity is a worthwhile philanthropic goal and one that should be considered carefully with the help of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. The manner in which you pass on assets to charities requires careful consideration of the intersection of your philanthropic goals and tax issues. By choosing to pass on certain assets to charities instead of others, you may maximize your tax benefits while also ensuring that the charity receives as much as possible of the assets you have carved out and set aside in your estate plan.

Your community may play an important role in your individual life and you can use your estate planning documents to further articulate what you want your legacy to be after you have passed away. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area allows you to walk through the various opportunities available to you and select one that is in line with your individual and community based goals.

So My Estate Plan is Finally Complete. What Do I Need to Do Now?

October 16, 2017

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

After you’ve put together your ancillary documents, your power of attorney, your trusts and your will, you might assume that you’re prepared for anything. While having a comprehensively prepared estate plan is a crucial first step, you need to ensure that you finalize this process of protecting your interests. You need to ensure that all relevant team members are aware of the role they play and their responsibility. You should certainly advise those closest to you and your trusted professionals such as your CPA or your estate planning lawyer about the plan you have in place. estate planning in NJ

Depending on the relationship you maintain with the beneficiaries and their age, you may want to provide additional details and copies of associated documents. But it is always a good idea to provide directions, detailing the initial steps that should be taken after you pass away. After this first conversation, you may want to create a blueprint of critical information for the individual who will organize your affairs such as:

  •       A list of important people to contact.
  •       Your personal balance sheets.
  •       A list of contact details for your estate beneficiaries.
  •       Copies of retirement asset, annuity and life insurance policy beneficiary designations.
  •       Individual instructions regarding your children, your business affairs and your funeral and burial desires.
  •       A digital asset inventory.

All of these steps can help to clarify things for your loved ones and make things easier if you were to suddenly and unexpectedly pass away.

The right lawyer is a big asset when planning your estate- consider scheduling a meeting now to learn more.

Are You Overlooking These Common Digital Assets in Your Estate Planning?

October 12, 2017

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

It makes sense that any digital assets that contain money or something of value should be considered in your digital estate plan. However, with a growing number of accounts and assets online these days, it’s all too easy to downplay digital assets. In addition to your tangible assets, the sentimental value of and the potential financial value associated with your digital assets makes them well worth including.

A new study out of Australia found that people are most likely to own emails, banking records and social media accounts but they may also have domain names, online businesses, bitcoins, iTunes accounts and medical records online that should be incorporated into a comprehensive digital estate plan.

Online service providers will have different rules and strategies associated with how to deal with the deceased user’s account and will typically close them automatically after an individual has passed away. This may not be in your best interests or something that you desire, which makes it all the more important to review these policies now and have a stipulated plan for addressing them. Consulting with an estate planning attorney can help to clarify the most important issues involved in your digital estate and how you should approach the subject overall. digital estate planning just as important

Don’t forget about how all your documents should work together- for example, your beneficiaries on your retirement policies need to be updated because this will be looked at instead of what you list on your will. In addition to reviewing your will on a minimum of an annual basis, you’ll also want to take a look at your beneficiary forms requested by any of your bank, brokerage, retirement, and life insurance accounts to make sure they reflect what you’ve got in your plan.

New Research Shows That Parents Play Favorites with Children in Estate Planning and More

October 11, 2017

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

 

Parents may try their best to treat children equally. However, a new research study shows that they may have a favorite and it will play out in multiple ways. The Journal of Consumer Psychology shows what may parents choose which child to give a $25 bond gift to. Fathers were most likely to choose their sons and a majority of mothers selected their daughters. 

Scientists say that this is because parents are more likely to identify significantly with their same gender child. Parents spend more money on a child of the same sex as themselves. This is true when it comes to savings bonds, cash allowances, back to school supplies and estate planning.

Research out of Rutgers Business School, State University of New York Oneonta and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management found that consumers tend to favor investing in children who are the same sex as them because they are more likely to identify with those children. Have you thought about which of your children would benefit from receiving your assets and the most appropriate way to transfer these on? To minimize tax consequences and to ensure everyone is cared for? Consult with an estate planning attorney today.

Key Questions to Ask When Giving Away Your Money Before You Pass Away

October 10, 2017

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

There are ten key questions that you should consider in the process of thinking about giving away money as part of your estate. giving away money with estate planning

Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help you get half the way towards protecting your interests and ensuring that you’ve considered all potential outcomes. These questions include:

  • Have you already appointed someone to make medical decisions on your behalf and have you told them what you would want?
  •       Can you afford to give away your money now? You may be able to take advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion rather than waiting till you pass away.
  •       Do you have the appropriate beneficiary listed on your life insurance and retirement account?
  •       Do you have a will?
  •       Are you worrying about federal estate taxes unnecessarily?
  •       Should you maintain your Roth IRA for your heirs?
  •       Does your state impose an inheritance or estate tax?
  •       Are the charities you support running properly?
  •       Have you talked to your adult children about your intentions with your estate?
  •       Could you donate appreciated assets to save even more on your taxes?

These are just a sampling of the questions that you should walk through before scheduling a consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.

New Opposition to Estate Tax Rule from Presidential Administration Could Affect Business Owners with Wealth

October 9, 2017

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

The Treasury Department is currently evaluating a proposed regulation that could change how wealthy business owners are eligible to pass on businesses to their children or other heirs. individuals are currently able to discount valuations of stakes in a family owned business to minimize the taxes due upon transfer. business estate plan

A 40% levy could be applied to estate values greater than $5.49 million. The proposed rule under section 2704 of the Tax Code could eliminate these business valuation discounts and therefore, a critical tax planning strategy that has been referenced by many people who own businesses and are extremely wealthy. According to Treasury Secretary, the IRS and the Treasury believe that these regulations should be completely withdrawn and believe that the rule is unworkable.

The primary aim under the previous presidential administration that created the rule was to prevent people who had a great deal of wealth to put marketable securities into their company much like a limited partnership and then transfer those securities at a discounted valuation. The IRS interpreted this as gaming the systems. As a business owner, you’ll likely have concerns about protecting not just your individual interests, but your business interests, too. Having an estate and transition plan for both is important.

If you have further questions about how to protect your business assets and to do so legally, contact a New Jersey estate planning lawyer today.

Looking at All Sides of Your Estate Plan

October 5, 2017

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

Most estate planning conversations with a lawyer have to do with the trusts that are set up upon each individual’s death, their attitudes or self-sustaining care towards the end of the life and the distribution of their assets. estate planning options

However, you should never neglect the softer side of your estate planning including your care of your pets, and other important topics like your attitude towards getting care in a facility or in your home. Some people may choose to stay at home towards the end of their life and would be uncomfortable placed in a hospital.

One of the crucial aspects of approaching estate planning at this level has to do with naming someone as a trustee, guardian, executor or establishment of power of attorney is a statement that you trust that individual to do what is best in various situations. Such a designated agent may struggle to make these decisions if you have not had a comprehensive conversation about what you intend to accomplish towards the end of your life and certain things that you do and do not want to be taken into consideration should problems emerge.

Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can open your eyes to the various issues often encountered by people at this level of estate planning. Both the procedural and the softer side of your needs need to be evaluated.

Extra Layers of Protection in Estate Plan Provided by Durable Power of Attorney

October 4, 2017

Filed under: Power of Attorney — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

There are two major types of durable powers of attorney that can be essential for estate planning purposes. They should always be executed as part of a comprehensive estate plan that has put together by a knowledgeable attorney.

 

First of all, you may use a durable power of attorney for asset management which gives an empowered agent the authority to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of the principal. 

You might instead choose to or in conjunction with also use a durable power of attorney for health care. This gives the designated agent the opportunity to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal. It is necessary to have a conversation with your designated agents about the importance of these documents and that person’s responsibility to act in your stead, if necessary.

Many people may opt to select the same agent for both documents but you can choose different people if you wish. These legal documents should be prepared well in advance before the principal individual starts facing challenges with various areas of their life. Having a conversation with the potential agents can also ensure that the agent is indeed interested in serving in such a capacity in a durable power of attorney. This can give you peace of mind for you and your family because of the protection provided for you, your heirs and the assets that you have worked so hard to develop and save.

Maximizing the Value of Your Estate: Hire a Lawyer When Considering Real Estate

October 3, 2017

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

Leaving behind sizeable cash assets, gifting or transferring this type of wealth to family members is part of your estate plan and could be subjective to significant taxes if you are not careful. However, if you transfer real estate investments of similar value, this could lead to significant discounts. include real estate in your estate planning

Real estate investments in which the investor transfers less than 50% of the assets means that the lack of voting rights or control can be considered when identifying the value for tax purposes.

This could lead to lower taxes because of discounts on the overall value. When evaluating potential transfers of assets, it is necessary to find an accounting professional in addition to an experienced estate planning attorney who can tell you more about how the different decisions you make will influence your future and the future of those you leave the assets to. The possibilities for discounts greater than what you might have expected to pay, identifying the best assets to transfer and the overall potential tax liability can all be discussed directly with professionals.

Even if you are a 100% owner of a property, you could be eligible to receive a discount if you give less than a 50% interest to any one individual. Doing this with your children maybe one common method to help minimize the potential taxes. You should never attempt to develop these strategies on your own and should instead consult with a knowledgeable estate planning and financial professional to assist you with a meaningful set of tactics.

Women Are Living Longer and Therefore More Financial Planning Is Needed

October 2, 2017

Filed under: Baby Boomer Generation — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

Financial and estate planning advice is intended to apply to everyone but the strategies and tactics used maybe differentiated based on the gender and age of the person asking the questions.

The reality is that all statistics point to women longer than men and facing more significant issues when it comes to ensuring that the assets that they have saved will last throughout their expected lifetime, especially with the potential for a nursing home stay. Some of the challenges facing women also include earning less over the course of their careers largely from taking time off to be caregivers to elderly relatives or children. Furthermore, the basic gender pay gap puts women at a disadvantage for being able to save as much as their male counterparts.women living longer

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does show some promising information from 2015 that the gender pay gap is narrowing, however, women still only earn 83% of what men earn. This can translate to long-term challenges such as being able to save less for retirement, lesser social security benefits, and smaller pensions overall.

Women also face the additional problem of being more likely to live alone in their older years due to death or divorce of a spouse or by choice. Therefore, it is critical that women take individual responsibility for their financial decisions and crafting an estate plan that works for them specifically. Financial advisors, estate planning attorneys, and other experienced professionals should be leveraged in order to accomplish the necessary goals.

 

A Sudden Death in the Family Can Present Challenges for Your Loved Ones

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

If the joint owner on a piece of property passes away, other individual owners may have questions about removing their name and whether or not such property goes through probate. Joint ownership property provides rights of survivorship benefits, meaning that the property does not need to go through the probate process. hire a lawyer to plan your estate

One of the major advantages of this type of ownership is that the property belongs to the surviving joint owners upon death and the ownership will transfer to the surviving joint owner or owners regardless of the estate plan put in place by the individual who passed away. At the moment of death, the surviving joint owner gets the decedent’s interest in the property immediately but the county involved does need to be notified of the death in order to have the title cleared.

You do this by recording what is known as a surviving joint tenant affidavit and an experienced estate administration attorney can help you with this process. The affidavit is extremely technical and should include critical information so that it successfully removes the decedent’s name and clears the title.

The preparation can be very complicated and should be left to an experienced attorney. Although sample forms may be obtained online to get a general idea of the basic information included in this process, it is recommended that you schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can help you walk you through the official legal steps.

Trust, Taxes, and Income

September 28, 2017

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

For the majority of retired investors and retirees overall, taxes, trusts, and income are all critical issues. These may be seen as a necessary evil but it is important to reframe your thinking to consider that a trust as one example as nothing more than a legal document that empowers you to exercise control over the distribution of your estate. A trust is often exercised to take advantage of particular tax advantages while also addressing estate tax issues when your estate officially changes plans. 

Sadly, investors with a great deal of amassed wealth may have had as much as 50% of their estate lost to taxes when it is transferred to the beneficiaries. One of the most common mistakes made in this method has to do with the funding of a trust using boilerplate trust forms that you find online or from an advisor could increase the chances of a mistake that ultimately harms your beneficiaries.

Since you are putting special care and consideration into your loved ones’ benefits and how they will be rewarded in your estate, you need to follow through on all aspects of properly funding the trust and establishing it to begin with. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you to accomplish all of these goals and to give you more peace of mind about your own future.

How Is an Administrator in New Jersey Appointed When There is No Will?

September 27, 2017

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

When there is no will established by a person, a personal representative or administrator will be appointed by the surrogate’s court. The first right to apply for the position of administrator is given to the surviving spouse but any heir of the decedent could be appointed. 

When one of multiple heirs wants to be appointed an administrator, all other heirs have to renounce their right to the appointed administrator. Usually a surety bond is required in order to cover the cost of real and personal property in the estate.

In order to apply for an administration, you will need a list of estate debts, a death certificate with a seal and estimate of the gross value of the estate, the names, and addresses of next of kin, and a blank check or cash for fees which vary with each estate. The first steps that are usually taken to handle the administration process include:

  •       Locating the decedent’s will
  •       Contacting social security
  •       Securing all estate assets
  •       Getting one or more original death certificates
  •       Beginning a checklist of estate assets such as stocks, credit unions, and bank accounts
  •       Keeping a list of medical expenses, utility bills, and charge accounts
  •       Investigating veterans’ benefits, if applicable.
  •       Arrange for the forwarding or pickup of mail

Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you to name a personal representative or administrator today such that your family members are not left with a difficult decision of determining whether or not they will serve in this role.

Think About Your Finances Before Becoming a Snowbird

September 26, 2017

Filed under: Baby Boomer Generation — Neel Shah @ 9:15 am

                                                                                                            

Before you start splitting time between two or more states, think about where you’d like to have as your primary place of residence because there are several different advantages to choosing one place over another. Then, after you have made this decision for yourself, be prepared to prove that the state you choose is really your home base. By age 61, many people say that they are free to choose where they want to live, according to the results of a study from Merrill Lynch. 

Life responsibilities like work or family often dictate these decisions prior to that time. This is why it is not that surprising to see retirees move at least on a part-time basis to a new location. More than one-third of retirees, in fact, told Merrill Lynch that they have already relocated and 27% anticipated doing so. Making the decision about where you want to live is important. More than 80% of retirees intend to move to the South Atlantic. Since several states have no income tax and others have tax breaks on retirement or real estate taxes for older residents, this is something you should consider in your determination.

Some states are well-known for going after individuals who claim that they are residents in other states to avoid having the financial obligations of claiming residency in the first state. Make sure that you keep all documentation to assist yourself with minimizing the consequences of these allegations.

Debt is Affecting Retirement Dreams for Older Individuals

September 25, 2017

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

Looking ahead to retirement is something that is a big issue for many baby boomers getting closer to prominent retirement ages of 50 and beyond. However, an exploration of the finances of people in this age category indicates problems with burdensome debt. 

According to the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center, more Americans are carrying heavy debt levels into their 50s and beyond.

More than 20,000 Americans in this age category were asked about their financial topics. The average amount of debt they are covering is $17,623 with 42% of Americans carrying that debt.

The average debt load in 2012 was $3,634. One-third of this was non-mortgage debt carried on a month to month basis. This presents a significant challenge and limited opportunities for people approaching retirement age who may want to have as many options as possible to protect their interests, support themselves in retirement and pass on assets to their loved ones.

If you find yourself in the situation of having debt or having recently paid off debt such that you have more assets, you should consult with both a financial planning and an estate planning attorney to get a better perspective on the facts you need to evaluate in your future.  

What Happens If the Executor Doesn’t Follow the Requirements of the Will?

September 21, 2017

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

Appointing an executor is an important step to take if you want to protect your interests after you pass away. Choosing the right person to serve in this role is important because you need to place your faith in this individual. For your family members struggling to cope with your loss, the selection of an executor who doesn’t follow the will’s requirements can present problems beyond what they know how to handle, but there are options.

Probate proceedings are judicial, so there is a judge who will oversee the process. A court may appoint a personal representative in your estate if you do not have one, and the court will maintain jurisdiction over the matter in this situation. There are two major types of estate administrations; supervised and unsupervised. The court will be involved in every stage of a supervised administration. Prior to the action taken by the personal representative, that person would need an order from the court. 

Unsupervised visitation, however, requires far less involvement from the court when compared with supervised administration. Once the estate has been completely administered, the personal representative issues a final account in with court.

Parties have a maximum period during which they can object and it is strongly recommended that you have a probate lawyer to assist you with this process because you will need someone who is familiar with the law and who can help you navigate the complexities of estate planning and administration. Consulting with a lawyer immediately is very valuable for anyone who finds themselves in this situation.

                                                                                                                                                                                           

Consider What Happens to Your Digital Estate After You Pass Away

September 20, 2017

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

Comprehensive estate planning is something that any person can benefit from, regardless of the size of their estate. It is a mistake to assume that you do not have to participate in estate planning because you have a few basic documents such as a will in place. Your will could be outdated or even legally invalid depending on whether or not you have moved to new states or incorporated new things into your life since you last put it together. Consulting with an experienced attorney is the best way to get a holistic approach to your estate planning. plan for your digital estate

One commonly overlooked but increasingly important component of estate planning has to do with your digital estate. What happens when you pass away to your email accounts, bank accounts, and even your social media. Will these disappear? Are they deactivated? Or will they exist in the Cloud forever?

The answers to these questions lie in the domain of digital estate planning and scheduling a consultation directly with an experienced digital estate planning lawyer can help you to accomplish a broad perspective on what you need to include. With so much vital information stored online, you simply cannot afford to neglect your digital estate planning opportunities. The nature of estate planning itself has changed and while you still may benefit from some of the more traditional documents, you can also benefit from considering what plans you’ll put in place to protect the assets you have online or to deactivate them. Appointing another individual to step in in this role is a common way of addressing concerns with your digital estate but you need a plan that is designed for flexibility and fast action. Consulting with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about digital estate planning can help you to craft a plan that is in line with your unique needs.

The nature of estate planning itself has changed and while you still may benefit from some of the more traditional documents, you can also benefit from considering what plans you’ll put in place to protect the assets you have online or to deactivate them. Appointing another individual to step in in this role is a common way of addressing concerns with your digital estate but you need a plan that is designed for flexibility and fast action. Consulting with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about digital estate planning can help you to craft a plan that is in line with your unique needs.

                                                                                                                                     

 

Estate Planning Outside of Taxes is Critical Too

September 19, 2017

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

 

One of the primary purposes that many people engage in the estate planning process is to ensure that taxes are minimized and that their financial matters are handled as they wish. However, you need to consider planning for purposes other than taxes. For example, you will need to think about designating the best executor or trustee because this is a crucial piece of ensuring that the administration of your estate goes smoothly. It might also be important to update materials over time for any special needs provisions if any of the beneficiaries is receiving government assistance. 

If there is a change in your family situation, this could also trigger updates in your estate plan. Failing to incorporate this could lead to confusion or even conflicts after you pass away. If the size of your estate has changed, it’s also a good idea to schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer to discuss your overall financial distribution plans. The current gift tax exclusion may allow you to provide gifts to someone while you are still alive and can help to reduce the size of your estate and give advantages to your beneficiaries in the short term.

Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you accomplish not just your tax planning goals but also the other unique considerations you will want to have including passing things on to philanthropy, how to do your beneficiary designations on things like retirement forms and other materials are relevant for estate planning purposes.

Have You Recently Inherited Money? Estate or Other Taxes May Await You

September 18, 2017

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

If you leave assets behind to your loved ones, you should always do so with a clear expectation of what that money or property is attached to. Ignoring the potential tax consequences could leave your loved ones in a difficult bind, whereas planning in advance gives them more opportunities and helps to stretch that money even further.

Many people do not meet the threshold to trigger the federal estate tax, although it is still important to schedule a planning consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. There are certain states across the country that do tax individuals who receive inheritances. Variation also exists between these states about the size of the estate and the asset types. inheritance tax

Inheritance does not classify this income unless it relates to the federal tax structure and there is no requirement to report the same. But there are several different inheritances that could lead to income. The latter type would be taxable. Capital gains tax, for example, could be imposed on a profit made. Taxes can be minimized on inheritance assets. Since estate taxes can be complicated, it is strongly recommended that you bring your questions and your individual planning concerns directly to an estate planning lawyer who can assist you with further information.

 

Plan Ahead for Potential Catastrophes with Your Estate

September 14, 2017

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

 

No one is able to get out of this world alive but you can make it easier on the loved ones that you leave behind. If you have minor children or accumulated assets, you still need to do some estate planning. The more complicated your life and businesses, the more complicated your planning must be.

 

Sadly, however, many people choose never to conduct their estate planning. A study completed by Caring.com found that just over 40% of adults in the United States have completed basic estate planning documents like a living trust or a will. For those with children younger than age 18, that figure is even lower, with only 36% having put an end of life plan in place.

Many parents work as hard as possible to ensure that their children are safe in all aspects of life but failing to have appropriate estate planning documents like a living trust or a will could compromise their ability to accomplish their goals or put them in a very difficult situation should something happen to you. Without a will in place, you are leaving behind a difficult and potentially expensive situation to be handled by whoever the court appoints.

Many parents will put off estate planning because they are not sure about who to name as the guardian of their children and you assume that it is extremely difficult to talk about your own mortality. Blended families, however, and the complexities of modern life makes it even more important to put together an estate plan that considers your unique needs. Grandparents, for example, may not be a good choice as the guardians of your children simply because of their age but no matter who you choose to serve as guardian of your children, you need to have a conversation about what that entails and whether they are comfortable taking on that role.

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