May, 2014 | Shah & Associates, P.C. Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog
Website Home Contact Us Blog Archives Blog Home

Interesting Image

Would you like more information on:

Schedule a Phone Call
to discuss your planning needs!
Click to Schedule an Appointment

Website Home



Contact Information

Forsgate Commons
241 Forsgate Drive
Monroe, NJ 08831
PH: (732)521-WILL (9455)
FX: (732)521-1204

It’s not all about the cash: Passing on Wealth and Wisdom

May 30, 2014

Filed under: Beneficiaries — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 1:14 pm

It might feel overwhelming to put together your estate plan, but it’s a good tool for you as well as your children. Taking care of your needs early on can encourage children to plan for the long term and to consider their own estate plans. One of the biggest hurdles with regard to estate planning, in fact, is that there’s a general stigma when it comes to talking about money. Simply setting aside some time for the conversation is a valuable process.

Its not all about the cash Passing on Wealth and Wisdom
(Photo Credit:

Many people that estate planning is simply for the management of their assets after they pass away, but that’s simply not true: it plays just as vital a role during your life, too. If you become incapacitated, a comprehensive estate plan will lay out your wishes clearly for your family members and other stakeholders. It’s also a tool that can be used to reduce risk and minimize taxes while protecting wealth- all of which are just as valuable while you are living.

One mistake to avoid in thinking about your estate planning is in seeing your wealth only for what it can do for the next generation in a positive light. Sometimes, there’s another impact that’s often forgotten- what your assets do to them when it comes to unintended consequences. Taxes can take a big hit on the assets if plans are put into place in advance, and gifts may even cause arguments between family members. Not every child, for example, will react the same way to learning that Mom or Dad has left a gift behind.

Estate planning is just as much about your mindset and passing on your wisdom as it is your wealth. To help create a living legacy that makes the most sense for your family, call us at 732-521-9455 or reach us through email at .

Guardianship for a family member with Alzheimer’s

May 29, 2014

Filed under: Aging In Place — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 12:51 pm

May was celebrated as Elder Law Month, and as the baby boomer generation ages, guardianship of an elder may be a growing concern. Although guardianship is most often discussed regarding minor children, it can be a helpful tool for older family members, too.

Guardianship for a family member with Alzheimers
(Photo Credit:

One in three people age 65 or older will contract some form of simple disability (cognition, vision or hearing impairment, the inability to get around without assistance, etc.). A diagnosis of such a disability may highlight the difficulty that individual faces in daily living. More difficult than basic aging or simple disability is the presence of Alzheimer’s; according to the Alzheimer’s Association five million are living with it presently, at a cost in 2013 amounting to $203 billion.

Being watchful for thesigns of Alzheimer’s can be an important step in recognizing the need to consider guardianship: among them, memory loss affecting daily living; the inability to complete familiar tasks; misplacing things; confusion over either time or place.

If the elder person does not have a power of attorney or advance directive, you can go into court and seek a declaration of incompetence. Subsequent appointment as a guardian will mean assuming decision-making for living arrangements, the management of finances and medical choices–the last two critical as out-of-pocket costs for older Americans have jumped 46 percent since the year 2000.The guardian has the legal duty to act in the best interest of the ward, and only in those areas permitted by the court. Those looking into guardianship for older parents may want to evaluate their own estate plans at the same time.

Difficulties may extend or render contentious the achieving of a guardianship role. If other family members cannot agree on the need, or on the proper person, the process can be lengthy. Further, the elder individual has the legal right to contest, and the determination of the court will only follow upon extensive expert evidence. Planning for your needs in advance can be extremely helpful for reducing family conflict. To learn more about applying for guardianship in New Jersey or planning to avoid the need, reach out to us at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Tax and Structure Considerations for Buy-Sell Agreements

May 28, 2014

Filed under: Business Planning — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 12:37 pm

A buy-sell agreement needs to be written properly in order to ensure that it’s effective for invested parties. There are some specific aspects that should be considered in the planning of any buy-sell agreement. Here are some of the basic stipulations:

Tax and Structure Considerations for Buy-Sell Agreements
(Photo Credit:

  • The commitment of involved parties. The obligations of each party should be outlined clearly, leaving no room for questions
  • The purpose of the arrangement should also be specified
  • A formula explaining the purchase price of the business interest should also be included, like a value for the selling/buying price for the business. Furthermore, how this should be funded is also explained.
  • Any transfer restrictions should also be included, which can prevent the owners from transferring interest in the business while any other parties to the agreement are still alive.

Bear in mind that there are tax considerations for funding a buy-sell agreement with life insurance, such as:

  • Premiums used to fund the agreement are generally not tax deductible
  • There’s no gift tax that happens on the buy-sell agreement execution
  • In a cross purchase agreement, the cash value of the policies that are owned by the decedent can be factored into the decedent’s estate.
  • Death proceeds are paid out income-tax free, no matter who actually owns the policy.

If you’re planning on structuring such an agreement, you might use an entity purchase agreement, a cross purchase agreement, or a hybrid agreement. To learn what will work best in your situation, send us an email at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Special Planning for Second Marriages: Lessons Learned From Casey Kasem

May 27, 2014

Filed under: Blended Families,Family Limited Partnerships — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 12:29 pm

The recent news hoopla over Casey Kasem illustrates an important lesson for planning your own estate: things may change when you throw a second marriage into the mix, calling for a re-evaluation of your plans. There are many things that should be addressed in estate planning where a second marriage has occurred. Doing so will help prevent problems and lay the groundwork for plans that actually carry out your wishes rather than spark legal battles among family members.

Special Planning for Second Marriages Lessons Learned From Casey Kasem
(Photo Credit:

Medical directives, powers of attorney, and even decisions about burial planning should all be considered in your estate plan if you are involved in a second or third marriage. This avoids conflict between family members that can make the grieving process even more difficult.

When it comes to passing down assets, this is especially complex in a second marriage. Who should get the money? Should it be split between children? Does it go to the first wife in one lump sum and the remainder is split among the children? There’s a lot of tension that can arise if you don’t think about the answers to these questions well in advance. Conflicts tend to crop up especially when a non-parent spouse is receiving assets that children feel entitled to in one sense or another. The more clarity there is in your planning, the better. Once you’ve met with an estate planning professional, it’s important that you in some sense communicate what you have outlined to family member stakeholders. To learn more about estate planning techniques for second and third marriages, email us at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455

Overseas Bank Accounts: What Do Small Business Owners Need To Know About FBAR?

May 26, 2014

In the even that a foreign partnership owns foreign bank accounts with aggregate balances over $10,000 (US) on any particular date, the business owner should be aware of FBAR filing requirements. A financial interest in a mutual fund, trust, brokerage account, or any other foreign financial account may require an annual filing known as the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts through the Internal Revenue Service.

Overseas Bank Accounts What Do Small Business Owners You Need To Know About FBAR
(Photo Credit:

Some of the stipulations of who meets this requirement include that if the owner of record or the holder of a legal title is a partnership in which a US person owns (either directly or indirectly)

  • An interest in more than 50 percent of the partnership’s profits
  • An interest in more than 50 percent of the partnership capital.

There are a few exceptions as far as the reporting goes. Those who may be able to avoid filing an FBAR include:

  • Correspondent/nostro accounts
  • Some foreign financial accounts jointly owned by a spouse
  • Foreign financial accounts owned by government entities or international financial institutions
  • IRA owners and beneficiaries
  • Certain individuals with signature authority but no financial interest in a foreign financial account
  • Participants in and beneficiaries of tax-qualified retirement plans
  • Trust beneficiaries (so long as a US person reports the account on an FBAR on the trust’s behalf)
  • Foreign financial accounts maintained on a United States military banking facility

As you might expect, IRS rules in this category can be highly complex and subject to specific terms. That’s why it’s helpful to meet with your tax law and accounting professional to determine your filing requirements. To learn more, email us at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455


Estate Planning For Your House: Irrevocable Trusts

May 23, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 1:26 pm

A transfer of assets outright may not be the best solution as this has been known to create undesirable outcomes. In the case when planning to avoid probate and conservatorships, it makes more sense to use an irrevocable trust. In many cases, the biggest and/or most important asset to be transferred is a home.

Estate Planning For Your House Irrevocable Trusts
(Photo Credit:

An outright transfer could cause problems: if it ever becomes necessary or desired to sell the property to buy a new one elsewhere, this can be difficult. Also the new owners might lose the residence to creditors or divorce or sell it on their own. That’s why it may be preferable to use an irrevocable trust to ensure protections and flexibility in planning. This can be done using lifetime retaining benefits held by the transferor.

There are benefits to using an irrevocable trust to manage the house transfer. First, the residence is protected from the threats of creditors or ex-spouses of death beneficiaries or the trustee. Second, if there is interest or need to sell the home to acquire a new one, the trustee can navigate this move fairly easily, If drafted properly. To talk more about how to plan for the transfer of your home, we can help. Email us at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Your IRA: Top Tips For Passing Down Your IRA To Children

May 22, 2014

Filed under: IRA — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 1:20 pm

Those who have spent a good amount of time contributing to their IRA might have questions when it’s time to decide beneficiaries. For example, is it best to stretch out the payouts over a lifetime to make the most of tax benefits or to withdraw the entire amount?

Your IRA Top Tips For Passing Down Your IRA To Children
(Photo Credit:

In many cases, an immediate emptying of the account is not in the best interest of the beneficiary, and it’s also something that parents may want to help their children avoid. Often, it’s difficult to suddenly manage a large sum of money, making Mom and Dad’s IRA benefits run out long before expected. Since many parents want to guard against this where possible, it’s important to note that two different strategies can help to stall an immediate withdrawal of all assets on the death of a parent.

One option is to name a trust as the IRA beneficiary, giving a trustee the power to distribute assets, but you must work with an experienced estate planner who knows how to craft a document that qualifies under IRS rules. Another option to consider is setting up the IRA as a trust account, giving trustee powers to the IRA provider, which is known as a “trusteed IRA”. This option, however, does have some downsides: higher fees and requirements for minimum balances are two of those disadvantages.

Options exist to help you plan for your future and to help beneficiaries receive assets in a somewhat-structured manner. To learn more about these planning tools, call us at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Married Couples without Children: Estate Planning Recommendations

May 21, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Planning for Children — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 1:01 pm

Your individual estate plan is going to depend largely on your personal situation and the goals you have for your assets. That being said, one major factor that can alter your estate planning situation tremendously is children. Without children, some couples might wonder what estate planning options could be used.

Married Couples without Children Estate Planning Recommendations
(Photo Credit:

One such example is a QTIP trust, or a Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust. This trust gives a benefit to the surviving spouse that keeps the assets out of the hands of creditors. Using this trust properly, assets from the trust that are still present after the surviving spouse passes away would then be given to beneficiaries stipulated by the spouse who passed away first.

A big benefit to this approach is that the personal representative of the first spouse (referring to the spouse who passes away first) can exert some flexibility over the best way to proceed. A partial QTIP election or portability election are the choices that a personal representative might consider after the first spouse passes away. One factor to bear in mind is ensuring that the applicable exclusion amount of the first spouse doesn’t go to waste, which can be addressed in planning strategies with your estate planning specialist.

Your family structure and how involved your family is in your own estate plans strongly dictates what needs you have when you come to the table to discuss your goals and concerns. To learn more, email us at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

An S Corporation Tax Strategy: Can You Eliminate Current Income Taxes on Company Profits?

May 20, 2014

Filed under: Taxes — Tags: , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 12:41 pm

In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, a potential possibility for limiting tax liability is being considered on the heels of the two North Carolina business owners who are attempting it. Right now, the issue is being explored in U.S. Tax Court, too, where a previous decision in December issued a ruling in favor of business owners.

An S Corporation Tax Strategy Can You Eliminate Current Income Taxes on Company Profits
(Photo Credit:

In an S Corp, which is typically how closely held firms organize themselves, earnings go directly from the company to the owners, who then have to pay taxes on their individual returns. This only works for companies with less than 100 shareholders, but it does provide a shield of corporation-like protection while avoiding an income tax at the corporate level.

Depending on how the court decides, there are major ramifications ahead for S corps. If the decision is handed down in favor of the corporations, these organizations may be able to reap significant tax savings by limiting their liability. In the North Carolina case, it’s all about how the owners structured their agreements. They reorganized the company into an S Corp in 1998 with a divided ownership strategy that gave 5 percent ownership to an ESOP. These assets can increase in value tax-free and allow for penalty-free withdrawals by individuals at age 59 ½ .

For tax purposes, nearly all of the profits from the corporation could have been shifted to the ESOP, putting off tax liability until individual withdrawal down the road. Many corporations are interested in mitigating risk and exploring tax reduction strategies, we can help with both. Email us at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Preventing End of Life Costs from Destroying Your Estate

May 19, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection Planning,Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Nursing Homes — Tags: , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 9:58 pm

It’s very rare that anybody has covered all possible risks in terms of their wealth management when it comes to income and cash flow, guaranteed income, cash, investments, and the connection between long term care and your estate. If you skip planning for long term care expenses, you may find that your other wealth management tools and strategies don’t hold up to the rising cost of healthcare.

Preventing End of Life Costs from Destroying Your Estate
(Photo Credit:

The average cost per month for a long-term care facility is over $7,000. That’s why long term care planning is so essential. When a long-term care insurance policy is too expensive or not an option because you do not qualify.

There are alternatives, however. Structuring your estate in a particular manner can help you guard against the cost of long term care. Two common strategies are eliminating assets through trusts and transfers. This means that down the road, if you need to reduce your assets for Medicaid eligibility, you’ve already done most of the work. If you are confronted with a long-term care event before you have done this, you could find yourself having to “spend down” your assets anyways before government assistance kicks in, depleting your savings and forcing you to do it rapidly, which is rarely in your best interest. However, if you do it incorrectly, it has the potential to have a severely negative impact on eligibility and penalty periods. To learn more about trust planning, gifting, and other strategies to mitigate risk in estate planning, email or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

Changing Your Power of Attorney

May 15, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Power of Attorney — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 9:51 pm

What if you already executed a power of attorney some years ago and now want to change that person? Is it as simple as revoking the old one and creating a new one? Make sure you’ve investigated whether your power of attorney is “durable” or “springing”. What’s the difference?

Changing Your Power of Attorney
(Photo Credit:

A springing POA is a person who has not yet assumed his or her position yet, making it much easier to change your plans. If you named someone else as a backup and would prefer that person now be your POA instead, you can amend your existing power of attorney to reflect this change in plans.

If the POA is actually a durable attorney, meaning that this individual was empowered to act on your behalf immediately after the document was executed, you may need to do a little more work. You should use certified and first class mail to notify the original individual that he or she has been removed as POA in case there is a dispute down the line about termination and institution of a new POA. If you believe that this person is out there exercising authority under your old Power of Attorney, you’ll need to take responsibility for contacting banks or other institutions where this is an issue. Make sure you have your estate planning attorney keep copies of all your documents on file in case there are any questions. To begin or change a power of attorney and any other estate planning documents, call us at 732-521-9455 today or request a meeting via email at

Banking on an inheritance? Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!

May 14, 2014

Filed under: Beneficiaries,Distribution of Assets,Inheritance — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 9:47 pm

New research from the Insured Retirement Institute shows that although nearly two-thirds of older individuals considered leaving an inheritance behind important in the past, those numbers have shifted out of beneficiary favor. According to their report, less than half of baby boomers today believe it’s critical to leave behind an inheritance.

(Photo Credit:

So, what’s behind this big shift in attitude? Many older individuals and couples want to see that you are capable of handling an inheritance first, taking the following factors into consideration:

  • A pattern of good financial decision-making skills. This doesn’t mean you’re mistake free on your credit report. Parents just want to see improvement and a pattern of it to verify that you’re responsible enough to handle a lump sum inheritance.
  • Understanding of your own financial missteps and accomplishments. Once again, it’s not about being perfect. Some older parents thinking about an inheritance left behind want to know that you’ve made your mistakes, learned from them, and moved on. It’s a sign that you’re growing in terms of financial independence and understanding. If you have a pattern of racking up debt and then struggling to pay it off, however, that’s not a good sign.
  • Debt awareness. Are you making student loan payments? That’s okay, because it was an investment in your future. Credit card debts and big car loans, however, show that you might not be familiar with the right kind of debt- or the right way to pay it off. Both are red flags for parents.
  • Educate yourself. No need for a post-graduate degree here, but certainly some financial education on your own through books, planning, and even videos can be really helpful. Find out your weak spots and work to improve them on your own. This shows ambition and desire, both of which parents love to see.

There’s never been a better time to get started. To discuss your plans for asset protection, tax minimization, and your estate, email or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Will your good deed go unpunished?: Limiting nonprofit individual liability

May 13, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 9:32 pm

A common question from trustees, officers, directors and volunteers at nonprofit organizations is to what extent these individuals face liability as representatives of the organization. Failure to adhere to tax formalities or mismanagement can, in some situations, make an individual person liable. In this instance, asset protection for the officer and direct is vital in addition to insurance.

Will your good deed go unpunished Limiting nonprofit individual liability
(Photo Credit:

Typically, lawsuits of this kind happen in one of a handful of ways:

  • An error or omission resulting from a trustee, officer, or manager’s decision (or lack thereof)
  • An allegation regarding corporation activities I which the director, officer, or trustee was not involved
  • An allegation of corporation activities in which the trustee, director, or officer was involved

There is a lot at stake in a lawsuit of this type, especially when the other party is alleging serious professional negligence that leaves an individual officer or director exposed to a high level of personal risk. Errors and omissions claims, which happen most often when a nonprofit organization has very little resources compared with what the claimant hopes to receive in damages, can devastate a nonprofit. These claims result from situations in which a nonprofit officer or director is held responsible for a decision or lack of decision in a particular situation. For example, a nonprofit event where an individual person is injured could lead to a lawsuit about the nonprofit’s decision to hold the event in the first place.

Thankfully, there are approaches you can take to mitigate this risk. This includes carrying errors and omissions insurance, carrying liability insurance, managing the affairs of the nonprofit as a corporation, and providing for partial or complete indemnification of officers and directors through specific agreements and don’t forget your asset protection planning. Some careful planning in advance can go a long way towards limiting lawsuit exposure. Contact us today through email at or via phone at 732-521-9455 to begin your asset protection plan.

New York Tax climate improves slightly, according to Tax Foundation

May 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neel Shah @ 4:47 am

An estate that is worth more than $1 million is a bit more common in New York than in other states, but for much of recent history, those residents were hit with a 16 percent state tax on their estates. This led to many New Yorkers moving out of state to more tax-friendly locations to ensure that heirs were able to keep as many estate assets as possible. Recognizing the drain of these estates to other locations, legislators have implemented a gradual plan making golden years in New York much more attractive.

New York Tax climate improves slightly, according to Tax Foundation
(Photo Credit:

Every year until 2019 the exemption will increase based on what day the individual in question passes away. Since small nuances in the law and a minor mistake could lead to bigger tax consequences, those with estates above $1 million should conduct an annual review of their tax planning to verify asset maximization. Even being off by one cent can throw off an entire plan, so it’s vital that regular review and analysis are used to help protect the estate. The new exemption is increased by $1,062,500 every year until reaching the federal exemption amount in 2019. At present, some New Yorkers have looked to DING and NING trusts, those trusts held in other states to reduce tax consequences.

This move, combined with estate tax changes that exempt small businesses from massive taxes after an owners death and decreases in the state’s corporate tax rate, were applauded by the tax policy research organization Tax Foundation. The organization noted that it these were important steps towards improving the reputation of ease of doing business within the state. All of the recent changes were adopted in the most recent state budget, details of which were released at the end of March. Special planning for New York tax liability can be completed by an estate planning specialist. For tax planning strategies, email or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Side Business? Silent Partner? What’s the Risk? Duties of non-manager members of LLCs

May 9, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Asset Protection Planning,Estate Planning,LLCs — Tags: , , , , — Neel Shah @ 6:30 pm

If you are interested in creating a managed multi-member LLC, one of the most popular questions for individuals in this position is whether non-manager members are held to the same standards (or have the same liability) with regards to fiduciary duties like care and loyalty. The answer is “it depends”.

Side Business Silent Partner Whats the Risk Duties of nonmanager members of LLCs
(Photo Credit:

In the non-manager members are involved in some significant aspect of the business, the operating agreement should generally include an expression of such duties for these individuals. Looking at the landscape of typical non-manager member involvement in the business of these LLCs, significant duties are typically rare with smaller businesses that are closely held.

There are some cases where the operating agreement might not address this question specifically. In this scenario, the LLC act governs and can provide some important insight. A lot of these acts, however, are quiet when it comes to this particular question. Some agreements, however, do have specific information about these duties included. An example is the Delaware Limited Liability Company Act, which actually negatives any duties for the non-manager members unless an express clause in the LLC agreement states anything to the contrary.

LLC formation and agreement construction can be aided significantly with the watchful eye of an attorney. Call us at 732-521-9455 or send us an email to to discuss your needs.

Side Business? Silent Partner? What’s the Risk? Duties of non-manager members of LLCs

Filed under: Asset Protection,Asset Protection Planning,LLCs — Neel Shah @ 4:44 am

If you are interested in creating a managed multi-member LLC, one of the most popular questions for individuals in this position is whether non-manager members are held to the same standards with regards to fiduciary duties like care and loyalty. The answer is “it depends”, but with a few stipulations.

LLC practice - fiduciary duties of non-manager members of multi-member LLCs
(Photo Credit:

In the non-manager members are involved in some significant aspect of the business, the operating agreement should generally include an expression of such duties for these individuals. Looking at the landscape of typical non-manager member involvement in the business of these LLCs, significant duties are typically rare with smaller businesses that are closely held.

There are some cases where the operating agreement might not address this question specifically. In this scenario, the LLC act governs and can provide some important insight. A lot of these acts, however, are quiet when it comes to this particular question. Some agreements, however, do have specific information about these duties included. An example is the Delaware Limited Liability Company Act, which actually negatives any duties for the non-manager members unless an express clause in the LLC agreement states anything to the contrary.

LLC formation and agreement construction can be aided significantly with the watchful eye of an attorney. Call us at 732-521-9455 or send us an email to to discuss your needs.

Do You Have a Digital Fortune?

May 8, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Trusts,Wills — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 4:37 am

The estate planning landscape is changing, and it’s because our approach to determining assets is changing, too. According to a survey by McAfee, Americans believe they own an average of about $54,000 in digital assets. Curious about a digital asset? What about your big ITunes collection? Downloaded resources and books on your Kindle? What about Paypal? Bitcoins? Or even more sentimental accounts, like a genealogy archive that’s helped you to identify relatives?

Do You Have a Digital Fortune
(Photo Credit:

Getting access to these materials can be difficult after a family member passes away. Your email account materials might be deleted before family members can even access the material and in the meantime, your accounts could be exposed to online theft risk.

This is where a Digital Estate Plan steps in. It will help your will executor carry out your wishes in the distribution of your assets. This can be a complex process, since many of the sites mentioned about base their service agreements on federal laws. Nevertheless, it’s an important exercise to gather up an inventory of material you might like your family to be able to access if something happens to you. At the least, your family will be aware of the information’s existence. Login information and passwords should also be included with this material.

Make sure you’re up to date with estate planning laws and trends by working with an experienced attorney. Reach out to us to get started at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455.

For Student Loans – Read the Fine Print: Risks for Student Loan Borrowers and Co-Signers

May 7, 2014

Filed under: Asset Protection,Estate Planning — Tags: , — Neel Shah @ 4:32 am

The details matter when it comes to getting a signature on your student loan agreement: it turns out that some private student loans have a caveat for what happens if the co-signer passes away. In some private loans, the student or recent graduate has to pay up if their relative passes away- immediately and in full. If the borrower can’t make that payment, he or she faces a big hit on their credit rating.

For Student Loans Read the Fine Print Risks for Student Loan Borrowers and Co-Signers
(Photo Credit:

Many students who have to use private loans to finance their education might not even notice the provision, but it’s legal. Receiving a notice for demanded payment in full often terrifies a recent graduate, who may ignore the notice and suddenly feel buried financially. Borrowers can have their loans released after a few years of earnings and positive credit history, but they also have an option to transfer to another co-signer. Unfortunately, not many students are aware of these options right away.

When it comes to student loans, it’s important to read all of the stipulations in the loan agreement, especially when it’s a private lender. Make sure you walk through all of your options if a parent does pass away, too. No one plans for the situation where a parent or relative passes away in this manner, but it’s worth factoring into your general estate plan if you are a co-signer on someone else’s loan. Ensure that the borrower knows and has a plan for how they would handle such a situation. To learn more about a comprehensive estate plan, contact us through email at or contact us via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Put Your Trust in a Trust

May 6, 2014

Filed under: Estate Taxes,Last Will & Testament,Trusts — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 4:27 am

Now is a great time to evaluate how using a trust can help you achieve your financial goals. The federal gift tax and estate tax laws give big incentives for using trusts in estate planning. In the pasts, trusts have been used mostly to transfer gifts to children while limiting estate taxes on wealth, but there are numerous other benefits.

Put Your Trust in a Trust
(Photo Credit:

An appropriately funded trust can help ensure that your assets are protected and available in the event that you become incapacitated. When you pass away, that same trust can be used to pass on assets to your beneficiaries. You can also protect your legacy by keeping your assets away from any of the heir’s creditors, too.

There are probate savings and privacy reasons that a trust can benefit you, too. There are potentially large fees for going through probate and your probate records will also be public. Putting your assets into a revocable trust instead can keep them from having to go through probate at death- therefore protecting you and your family’s privacy.

Finally, trusts can be a good tool when you live in a state that has an estate tax. Some states levy estate taxes that are rather substantial, but trust planning is one way to cut down on how many estate taxes will be levied on your death. This can also be a good tool for those who have real estate located in a state that imposes estate taxes.

Thanks, But No Thanks. State Estate Taxes & Disclaimer-Based Approach

May 5, 2014

Filed under: Estate Taxes,Probate — Tags: , , , — Neel Shah @ 3:37 am

Twenty-one states have their own estate taxes, including New York and New Jersey. Many of these states have exemption amounts beneath the federal exemption, so it’s worth factoring in state estate taxes in your overall estate planning process.

Thanks But No Thanks State Estate Taxes & Disclaimer-Based Approach
(Photo Credit:

One way for married couples domiciled in those states with it’s own estate taxes to plan is to use the disclaimer-based approach. A disclaimer refers to a refusal by a beneficiary of a gift transferred to that beneficiary during life or at the time of death through a will, trust, or another mechanism.
The government makes a distinction between “nonqualified” and “qualified” disclaimers.

Using a disclaimer-based approach, the residuary estate passes on to the surviving spouse in a plan that provide that if the surviving spouse disclaims the interest, those assets will pass to a disclaimer credit shelter trust. This approach can add an element of flexibility to planning by empowering the spouse to make any needed changes. The surviving spouse will need to execute a disclaimed within nine months of the date of death. In order to ensure that you are prepared to use this disclaimer, work with an estate planning attorney to learn more. For all your complex estate planning, contact us at or via phone at 732-521-9455 to get started.

Older Posts »