Eight Extremely Smart Estate Planning Steps: Part 2

Setup Trusts

Transferring ownership by taking assets out of your individual control and putting them into a trust can be very beneficial. Living trust can be a very valuable tool for people who want to keep their affairs private as well. Speak with an estate planning attorney to learn more about your options here.shutterstock_199870811

Divvy Up Your Belongings

Your legacy may also leave behind stuff whether it’s heirloom, jewelry, or an art collection. This tangible personal property should be left behind clearly if you want individuals to have particular things. You should not count on your family members to get along enough to sort this out on their own.

Plan Ahead For Your Memorial

Pre-paying your funeral plan and personalizing your sendoff are several things that have become more popular in recent years. You are not limited to traditional planning either. This is your opportunity to determine what you want and to put it in writing.

Choose Cremation or a Burial

It is likely that you already have a strong sense of what you want in your own end-of-life plans. Make sure that this is documented so that there is no fighting among your loved ones.

Eight Extremely Smart Estate Planning Steps: Part 1

There are simply no excuses for avoiding the estate planning process, but knowing what steps you need to follow can be extremely helpful for getting over your concerns about conducting it. Read on to learn more about some of the most popular steps you should always take when thinking about your estate planning. shutterstock_307039916

Put Together a Will

Passing away without a will leaves it all up to the courts to determine what happens to your property. This can be confusing and the source of many delays for your loved ones, so it is better to put together a will sooner rather than later.

Factor in Life Insurance

Basic needs from your life insurance policy can be paid for if something were to happen to you. You can also plan ahead to help pay for a mortgage as well as special expenses like a college education.

Think About Your End of Life Documents

There are many different documents that you can use for the end of life planning process. These include advance directives, a durable power of attorney, and a release of information form. All or a combination of these forms can be helpful for you.

Avoid Probate

To the best extent that you can, it is always in your best interest to pass as much of your estate outside of probate is possible. Although the probate process is not extremely complicated it can be filled with many delays that tie up your estate and generate thousands of dollars in legal costs and other expenses. Few individuals want this for their beneficiary so it can be a good idea to avoid this by planning ahead from the start.

Estate Planning Tips: How to Protect Yourself in the Future from Financial Abuse

Individuals of any age could be subject to financial abuse but more it more often happens to elderly people. In order to avoid this impacting you down the road, there are several different things you can do. Begin by creating an inventory of all of your assets.shutterstock_121353820

This includes bank accounts, brokerage accounts, investments and retirement accounts. You can do this on your own or with a financial professional but you simply want to be aware of the various financial accounts that you have.

This makes it easier for an investor to know what you need to keep track of and is also a solid record for a trusted person to take over if you become compromised or incapacitated. There are also opportunities to simplify your financial affair management. One example could be consolidating all of your brokerage accounts that are currently spread across multiple firms. Rolling over your 401(k) s from previous employers into your current account is another way to keep everything simple and all together. Using these tips can help prevent you from becoming a victim of financial abuse in the future and it also makes things easier for someone who has been appointed to help you manage your affairs.

Does Sleep Have a Connection to Causing Alzheimer’s?

Everyone knows that it is imperative to get the right amount of sleep. As more research is being done about how to prevent Alzheimer’s or minimize the symptoms associated with conditions like this, new research has looked at how a lack of deep sleep can cause problems as far as Alzheimer’s itself. According to the research published on NPR, the brain clears out toxins that have been connected to Alzheimer’s during the sleep process.shutterstock_160066232

There is certainly a link between Alzheimer’s and sleep since the majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s have some kind of sleeping disorder. The same scientists who just completed this study are about to undertake a research process to learn more about the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep problems in humans.

If your elderly loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s and facing other challenges as a result of his or her aging process, you may be concerned about caregiving as well as the proper estate planning documents being in place. This is a great time to consult with an elder law and estate planning attorney to make sure that all of your bases are covered and that all critical issues have been considered by you and your loved one.

Tips for Selecting a Successor to Your Business


In many cases your business successor could be selected by default. If you have a family business, for example, there is likely one member who is more qualified, interested and active in the business than others.shutterstock_158522279

In this situation the founder might have already spent a good deal of time grooming the successor for this situation. In this particular case, the challenge for business succession planning has to do with treating the other siblings or non-participating family members equitably. Able founders need to be prepared for how to pass along their precious creation to successors who have worked hard to take on the risks associated with it.

If succession has not already been determined by birth order, interest or proximity, it may require a group effort to select and groom an individual. Individuals who are not family members could even be recruited onto this transition team. It is unlikely to be successful if you opt to divide power between competing children because it can generate a great deal of conflict and impact the business negatively in terms of finances and management. Careful business succession planning requires thinking about where you have come from, where you are now and where you would like the business to go, and then evaluating various individuals who may fit into the roles associated with that business.

Hillary Clinton Presents Plan for Estate Tax Increases

Hillary Clinton recently released a plan that would bring estate tax rates and exemptions back to 2009 levels. This would mean pushing down the maximum tax rate. Her plan would push the maximum tax rate to 45% from where it presently sits at 40%.shutterstock_287370860

Experts believe that this plan is an attempt to get better traction with liberals who have been putting their support behind Bernie Sanders instead. Sanders has been an outspoken critic of the current estate tax plans and requirements, alleging that significant increases need to be made to the maximum rate and the exemption should be cut dramatically as well.

While Clinton’s proposal has the potential to bring $150 billion in revenue across ten years, it would only impact 4 out of every 100 families which is why it is a popular option for individuals in the center and on the left who are looking to avoid higher taxes on the middle class.

What Does Physical Caregiving Have To Do With Elder Law Planning?

According to recent research and stories by the New York Times, more adult children are moving closer to their parents. If you live within 20 minutes of your aging parents then you can be seen as a typical American. Physical proximity can play a critical role when an elder family member needs caregiving.shutterstock_296020625

The median distance that Americans live from their mother is only 18 miles and it turns out that only 20 percent of individuals live more than a few hours’ drive away from their parents. The primary reason for focusing on women is that women tend to be caregivers more often. Caregiving goes both ways as an adult child may benefit from an elderly loved one babysitting their grandchildren, for example.

That being said, living close to your parents can be problematic even when you are just a couple of miles away, if your elderly loved one is experiencing advanced signs of aging. This is why it is imperative to consider all of your caregiving options and determine when Medicaid or other issues may kick in and help with this process. Speak with an elder law planning attorney today to learn more.

What Are The Pitfalls In Transferring Power In A Family Business?

There are many different issues that affect a family business such as climate, laws, technology, economic trends, competitors and employees. But the family business is also influenced by anything that impacts the family unit itself like skill levels, various interests of the stakeholders, marital status, the level of business participation for each person and the relative health of all members.shutterstock_165121328

Handling transfer of power while balancing this climate can seem like a juggling act. This is especially true if the founder is hesitant to give up control or if the successor is not well prepared or interested in accepting it. The major issues facing a family business owner looking to transfer power to others are timing the transitions, selecting the appropriate successor, managing inter-generational conflict, providing adequate training for the successor, and ensuring a smooth transition period.

All of these can be important for the family business owner who is looking to pass on his or her company. Even if you are not planning to pass on the family business for several years, it’s a good idea to have your plans in place now in case a sudden disability or death were to alter them.

New Fiduciary Rule Could Be Good For Investors In 2016


The stock market may be a little bit bumpy in 2016 but it looks like those who are focusing on retirement saving can benefit during this same period. This is because the US Department of Labor is applying the final touches to what’s known as a fiduciary rule that means a lot for anyone who has an individual retirement account or 401(k).shutterstock_47215390

This rule will alter the retirement advice business completely because it will mandate that insurance agents, brokers, banks and mutual fund companies all keep their fees low in order to protect your savings from excessive risk when you are receiving information about what to do next. One important thing to consider in relation to this regulation has to do with the case of J.P. Morgan Chase and Company. shutterstock_47215390

Right before the holidays, the biggest bank in the country agreed to pay more than $300 million to settle claims about advisors and brokers forcing clients into their own costly investment products over other options without making the required disclosures about this for conflict of interest.

According to those claims, J.P. Morgan additionally gave preference to hedge fund managers in a third party possession who paid placement fees for the market value of the client assets that were invested. It can put a drag on performance for the investor and ultimately hurt the investor tremendously, which is part of the reason this fiduciary rule is being considered to begin with.

Contact a New Jersey estate planning attorney today to get started with the planning process for your estate. Reach out to us at info@lawesq.net.

What Estate Planning and Financial Planning Moves Should I Make Before 2017?

If you are one of the individuals who felt like the New Year came up far too quickly for you to accomplish your estate planning goals, you are not alone. The good news is that you can make some changes now in order to be prepared for when 2017 arrives. Getting ready now allows you to capitalize on the momentum for the new year and get these things accomplished before it’s 2017 already. shutterstock_94520029

Some of the most common ways that you can do this include giving to charity, making gifts to family, checking your beneficiaries, applying for social security, if applicable, setting up life insurance, and putting together a meeting to address powers of attorney, an updated will and your health care proxies. Looking at this initially can seem a little bit overwhelming especially if you feel like you were not able to accomplish your estate planning goals last year.

The good news is that setting up a meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney now gives you the remainder of 2016 to accomplish these goals. With someone who knows what they are doing, it should not take more than a couple of meetings to outline all of these details and to determine whether you need to update any other existing documents you may have related to your financial and estate planning. Consulting with a knowledgeable New Jersey estate planning attorney can also help you get all of your questions answered and assist you with clarifying some of your goals about estate planning in general.

S Corporations and Shorter Built-in Gains Periods

S corporations are most popular as a tax vehicle because it allows for only one layer of tax instead of the double layer of tax usually imposed on a typical corporation. Rather than the S corporation paying tax, the S corporation’s taxable income passes through to the shareholders and is reported on those shareholders’ personal tax returns.shutterstock_304978883

The corporation generally is able to distribute a company in profits to the shareholders free of federal taxes. To avoid corporations attempting to convert over to an S corporation and then sell their assets off, the internal revenue code mandates a 10 year built-in gains tax on S corporations. If the S corporation sells assets within this period, the corporate level tax normal rate is paid.

In early January, legislation was introduced to officially reduce this 10-year period down to 5 years, retroactive to tax year starting on January 1, 2015. For S corporations, this is great news and highlights an important time to return to your planning attorney to discuss your options.             

What You Need to Know About Rising Interest Rates and Estate Planning

The Federal Reserve’s most recent decision to increase interest rates does carry implications for individuals who are considered affluent. This mostly has to do with their estate planning. Interest rates can definitely impact strategies in place for minimizing estate taxes and maximizing the benefits associated with income tax bricks.shutterstock_313523747

Guarantor retained annuity trusts and intra family loans are two typical strategies that a family may want to consider implementing before interest rates go any higher. This is because both of these strategies have benefits when investment returns exceed what’s known as a hurdle interest rate based on the rates of the market.

A qualified personal residence trust, in addition, in order to pass on a vacation home or primary resident to heirs is also worth keeping in mind when interest rates go higher. The present value of the asset is lower in a higher interest rate environment and therefore the potentially taxable gift value is also lower. Make sure to consult with your estate planning attorney to learn more about what you need to know about rising interest rates and what you can do now to minimize the impacts of taxes in the long run.

Materials You Should Have Before Applying for Medicaid

After discussing your Medicaid application and preparing for it in advance with your elder law attorney, there may be an appropriate time you should begin the application process. There are several things you should know about the Medicaid application process in order to set yourself up for success.


One of the things that surprises most elderly individuals and their caregivers is the amount of documentation required for a Medicaid application. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to submit this information and in the proper order so that you do not have any unnecessary delays associated with the application. The following items should be included with your application.

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage information
  • Social security award letter or social security card
  • Information about all loans owed
  • A copy of a residential rental agreement (if applicable)
  • Health insurance premiums and identity cards
  • All unpaid medical bills
  • Alimony statements or child support statements
  • Any cars owned
  • Pay stubs over the last six weeks
  • details of any pension plans where benefits are being received
  • Copies of tax return for the last five years
  • All life insurance statements and policies including any cash value accumulated within these policies

As you can see, the Medicaid application process can be quite extensive and may be a bit overwhelming. Planning in advance of options you have with your assets as well as qualifying for Medicaid can be an important first step to discuss with an elder law attorney.

Tips for Small Business Owners Who Have Ignored Their Succession Plans

Many small business owners know the struggle of keeping track of multiple priorities working long hours and taking risks. However, even the most successful small business owners can be tempted to drag their feet when it comes to business succession planning. Some of the most common reasons for this process being skipped over are that succession planning is seen as emotionally difficult, time consuming, complex and expensive.shutterstock_62360050

Without a business succession plan, however, you are facing a lot of risk if you do someday hope to have your company survive you or to sell it for a fair price. There is no cookie cutter process you should approach for business succession planning. The amount of time spent in this process depends on the size of the business and the particular issues involved such as whether or not family members will be taking it on. Do not wait too long to get started, however, because this could prove problematic if something happens to you and you need to exit the business suddenly, having a business succession plan in place can help to avoid the challenges with a sudden departure.

Why the Right Insurance is So Important for Your Asset Protection Plan

The first step in any plan to protect your assets should involve obtaining the right insurance. Many self-employed individuals, for example, do not realize that they need specific insurance in order to protect their assets. One such example is a physician.shutterstock_236845816

While most physicians understand that medical malpractice insurance is something they must have, other professionals should also consider the benefit of errors and omissions insurance. Financial advisors and lawyers are just a few of groups who should consider the benefits of using insurance as the cornerstone of their asset protection plan. The errors and omissions insurance can be helpful in the event that someone else sues you as a result of losses.

Even if the ultimate loss is not your fault, the former client may be looking for someone to take the blame and therefore you could end up in the hot seat. An umbrella insurance policy may also be a crucial component of this essential part of your asset protection plan. Many wealthy and successful individuals are more likely to be sued because other individuals believe that you have the assets necessary to support a lawsuit. A liability policy can help to form the first shield of protection for your assets when someone is hurt on your property or when someone else tries to hold you liable for damage or injury to property.

Digital Planning Options for Your Estate: To Thoughts of Worldly Goods

Our technological world now adds our digital legacies and a key is to go through all the questions that will, in their entirety, result in solid, satisfying panning for end of life. There are many online entities that can help but their function is a preliminary one that should be supplemented by an estate planning attorney.shutterstock_168228935

A website might point you in the right direction and help you understand the various issues you need to consider in your estate planning but only a knowledgeable attorney can help you put together a comprehensive plan.

Areas of concern in estate planning are identifying important documents, what digital libraries you have present, what business data should be passed on, end of life instructions including funeral planning, and a complete list of physical assets. Make sure you consult with a knowledgeable attorney sooner rather than later to get your questions answered.             

Conscience and Ethics in Estate Planning

Estate planning is a demonstration of personal values. As humans we have the unique ability to conceive and do the right thing like writing down a plan and matching our deeds to it. Quite apart from the real world penalty, estate plans can promote integrity by incentivizing positive activities and beneficiaries or by philanthropic gifts.shutterstock_150136205

You need to carefully consider what you want in your own plan as well as the legacy you want to leave behind for your loved ones. A completed estate plan aims to accomplish both goals at the same time, and may include various strategies and elements to help you do this.

As C. S. Lewis expressed it, it is less about only doing what is required or what one can get away with legally. Integrity is about doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Estate plans are strategies which set in motion behaviors which, in the best view, show a pattern of values by which one wants to live and be remembered.

There is No Magic Pill for Asset Protection Planning

There is no question that cyber threats exist and that for many it is not a question of if but when. One issue is that a key focus seems to be on compliance or finding the tangible product or magic bullet that will check off the boxes of what is required for protecting your assets.shutterstock_179022608

Although many individuals do purchase programs to avoid cyber threats, according to an electric industry paper, 2014 Strategic Decisions, only 32% of these individuals have used systems with proper monitoring segmentation and redundancies.

The key is not to avoid responsibility and to realize that buying a package monetary by-staff at a remote location is no substitute for integrating a program with your on-site personnel in a systematic complex thoughtful plan that protects the unique assets being held.

Business Succession Planning: What Are the Values at Work?

A business reflects its owner, and a clear plan can keep that concern on the path that was chosen. Lack of a succession plan could morph the business into something different or leave it in the hands of someone who would not reflect the founder’s intent or attitude.shutterstock_110061932

The type of plan used will depend on whether the business is to be sold or kept until death or retirement. If the business to kept and passed along, use of an outside consultant can eliminate bias in the selection of a successor and that successor could be placed in a similar business to prepare for the future.

If the business is to be sold, there are many options; an outright sale, a buy-sell arrangement for a future date, a family limited partnership, or an annuity arrangement trading your business for a guaranteed lifetime income string.

Make sure you contact a New Jersey business succession planning attorney when you have questions about charting a successful path for your company. Planning ahead can prove to help answer some difficult questions.

Elder Law: Watching the Dangers of High Health Costs

Fidelity Investments has conducted an annual survey for the 7th straight year and 62% of those
individuals asked in the survey reported unexpected expenses as the key concern for 2016.
47% of those individuals cited healthcare costs as a primary concern for them and the survey
reported that a couple of age 65 entering retirement could expect to pay around $245,000
during retirement.shutterstock_134604893
This is an increase from $220,000 last year. A disconcerting note was the United Healthcare CEO indicating that the nation’s largest health insurer may pull out of the Affordable Care Act by 2016. The need to self-control cost where possible was further evidenced by a doubling from last year of the resolve in 2016 to pay down outstanding credit.
Both health insurance companies and elderly individuals are concerned about the rising costs of healthcare in the coming years. Paying attention to your finances and your plans for retirement should always incorporate how you’re protecting yourself against the financial implications of a serious healthcare concern.