Issues to Be Aware of with a Bypass Trust

An estate planning tool that once used to be relatively popular may cost families a great deal more in taxes than it could have the potential to save. This is because the bypass trust has become less appealing in recent years due to changes in the estate tax rules at the federal level. The way that a bypass trust works is that when the first spouse passes away and leaves everything to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse could have an estate that exceeds the federal or the state tax exemption.

A bypass trust then prevents the passage of the estate to the surviving spouse with the payment of estate taxes. The terms of these individual trusts would typically vary but a typical stipulation would be that the trust income is paid out to the surviving spouse and that the principle is available at the trustee’s discretion if the surviving spouse were to need it. Since estate taxes changed dramatically in 2013, very few individuals are subject to federal estate taxes attorney NJ

In 2016 the first $5.45 million of an estate is safe from federal estate taxes for each individual. This means that couples would have an estate tax exemption up to $10.9 million. The fact that the estate tax is now portable between spouses means that you can accomplish the same purposes of bypass trusts without having to establish a trust.

There are some circumstances, however, when a bypass trust may still make sense. For example, if your estate is bigger than the current estate exemption, a bypass trust could still be one way to protect your assets from the estate tax. In certain states, estate taxes are leveraged at much lower thresholds than the federal estate tax exemption and in this situation a bypass trust may be valuable.

Bypass trusts may also be helpful for other families who have needs outside of avoiding estate taxes. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney in New Jersey can help you answer this question for yourself.


Why Everyone Needs Asset Protection Planning

Some people view asset protection planning as an illegal or immoral practice, but that’s not really the purpose of this kind of planning. In fact, when done appropriately, asset protection planning can help you accomplish your goals and shield the wealth you have worked so hard to accumulate.asset protection NJ

While it is certainly true that all kinds of professional definitely need asset protection planning, this is true for everyone. The reality is that anyone could be exposed to a lawsuit in which his or her personal assets may be tapped by a creditor or predator.

In fact, asset protection planning breaks down to three primary goals:

  • Deferring lawsuits in the first place
  • Helping give you settlement negotiation power
  • Preventing your personal assets from being seized in the event of a judgment

Asset protection planning also has an added benefit of giving a layer of privacy to your personal assets as well, which is desirable to most people who are accumulating or who have already accumulated substantial assets. Various legal and business entities can be used to help shield your personal assets.

Even if you are not currently facing a lawsuit, most people are aware that litigation presents significant obstacles. Paying for a lawsuit, even if you are ultimately successful, can be frustrating. You may have to expend time and legal fees in order to accomplish successfully deflecting a lawsuit, and any situation in which you may be able to avoid this altogether can benefit you.

What you use for asset protection planning depends on your individual goals, but you can discuss the options with an experienced New Jersey asset protection planning attorney. Remember that if you are already facing a lawsuit, it could be too late to take advantage of the strategies and tools used to protect you.

Are you ready to talk through your options? Contact our office today at

Key Estate Planning Lessons That You Can Learn from Prince

Anytime that a celebrity passes away, we get the opportunity to benefit from his or her planning or lack of planning. Unfortunately, a growing number of Americans, much like pop star Prince, do not have a will at all. estate planning will NJ

What follows are several reasons why it’s important to put your estate in order now as opposed to later. Four reasons you need to stop putting this process off and create a will now include:

  • Allocating what happens to your things after you pass away. If you have specific assets you would like to pass on to particular individuals, your will can outline this and make it much easier for your beneficiaries by avoiding the probate process. This can be one of the biggest and easiest benefits of stipulating what you want to happen in your will.
  • Your children. Creating a will is an essential component of your estate planning if you have minor children because it allows you to name a guardian for these individuals.
  • Charitable help. If you wish to give back to charities after you pass away, your will can direct part of the money to those groups. You may also need to use more complex estate planning tools like a trust in order to get the maximum benefit out of this process.
  • It is easy to create a will. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can create a will on your own as using generic forms could run counter to existing state or federal laws and fail to capture the complex nature of estate planning.

Your will can help to articulate your plans for the future and give you peace of mind.

Thankfully, putting together a will is relatively easily accomplished when you set up a meeting with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney. Do not hesitate to get help on your estate planning matters as soon as possible.



Take This Business Succession Planning Quiz to Learn Whether or Not You Are Prepared for the Future

business succession planning NJUnfortunately, far too many individuals avoid the process of business succession planning, figuring that they will deal with it at some point in the future. Unfortunately, as many business owners can attest, there are numerous reasons why someone may need to depart a business suddenly. These include disability, death, retirement and other issues. Without having an appropriate business succession plan in place, the business may continue to struggle significantly.

Answer these questions below to learn whether or not your company is appropriately prepared for business succession planning. If you find yourself answering no to the majority of these questions, realize that you are not alone and that you could benefit from a meeting with a business succession planning attorney. Getting things organized now and initiating these processes can help your business significantly and give you a great deal of peace of mind about the future.

  • Do you already have an identified successor for all of the key roles in your business?
  • Have you defined the vision and the personal goals you have associated with transferring management and ownership of the company?
  • Are there any family issues that could impede potential ownership and leadership decisions?
  • Does your business succession plan also take into account key estate planning issues such as minimizing estate taxes?
  • Do you have appropriate liquidity in the business in order to avoid a forced sale?
  • Is there a contingency plan in case an existing business owner becomes unable to work sooner than anticipated?
  • Is a buy-sell agreement already developed for transferring assets?
  • Have you figured out yet whether or not you or any other individual is depending on the sale of the business to meet cash flow needs in retirement?
  • Have you already had a business valuation conducted and viewed your company in the same way that a potential buyer would?

If you have not engaged in this process yet, it is not too late. Consult with a business succession planning attorney to learn more.


Are You Falling Victim to This Asset Protection Planning Myth About Bankruptcy?

There are several different important steps you should take when it comes to the asset protection planning process. One of these includes getting the right help form an experienced asset protection planning attorney.

Having the right insurance is an important foundation of your asset protection planning strategy but it is not part of your comprehensive approach. If you are a professional individual, for example, you may choose to invest in errors and omissions insurance to protect you in the event that somebody sues you when losses are experienced. You may also want to consider an umbrella insurance policy.bankruptcy and asset protecting planning

Many wealthy individuals simply face a higher risk of being sued because an opportunist may believe that you have the assets appropriate to support a lawsuit. A liability insurance policy, however, can protect your assets when someone attempts to link you to an injury or damage that happened on your property. The second step of asset protection planning involves separating your business from your personal assets. As soon as you begin growing your income diversity, it is important to take this step.

Working with an asset protection planning attorney can help you ensure that your business structures are properly divided in order to shield your personal assets to the best extent possible. It is important to understand that many individuals have misconceptions about the role of bankruptcy in asset protection planning. Bankruptcy could be a helpful asset protection planning strategy, although since 2005 this has become less and less true. New bankruptcy rules make it more difficult to file for Chapter 7, for example.

Bankruptcy judges also have a high level of discretion in cases. If you attempt to file for bankruptcy protection after somebody comes after you in a lawsuit, this does not mean that you are comprehensively protected. You need to consult with your asset protection planning attorney to understand when bankruptcy makes sense and when it doesn’t. Reach out to if you’re ready for a more comprehensive approach to asset protection planning.


May Home of National Elder Law Month

Since 1963, the month of May has been a time to focus on issues impacting older individuals. In 2016, this focus is on elder law and how an elder law attorney can help the growing numbers of senior citizens accomplish their estate planning goals. elder law attorney NJ

Elder law attorneys serve a crucial role by helping you or your loved ones plan for the future. This, of course, will encompass estate planning for what happens after you pass away, but it also frequently involves planning for your life, too. This is because a growing number of individuals face the risk of incapacity due to disability or a severe illness.

Given that so many elderly individuals are coping with at least one chronic condition, it is important to think about having the right documentation to allow someone else to make decisions on your behalf and to talk in greater detail about your financial plan for long-term care.

One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of elder law has to do with Medicaid. Small missteps in your Medicaid planning can cause problems down the line, so it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced New Jersey elder law attorney now to develop goals and plans. In the event that you sustain a serious injury or contract a chronic illness requiring long-term care, knowing your options ahead of time and having a contingency plan can minimize the stress you experience during this time.

You can take the important first step this May by setting up a meeting with an elder law attorney to discuss your future steps. Adult children who have baby boomer parents, too, can work on their own plan and talk about options for Mom and Dad as well. Before heading into the busy summer and vacation season, make sure you can cross this project off your “must do” list. You’ll have peace of mind about your long-term plan by doing so.


Why Do You Need to Think About Small Business Succession Planning Now?

Did you know that just over half of all small business owners are aged 50 or above? That’s according to statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration. How that breaks down to actual numbers is that 28 million individuals who own a small business are at the point of considering transitioning out of their succession planning NJ

Despite the fact that many small business owners are over age 50, a vast majority of them have not completed the business succession planning process. A whopping 78% of small business owners plan to sell their businesses in order to fund their retirements, but less than one-third of them have an actual written succession plan which could be a recipe for disaster. Individuals who are counting on the sale of the business to fund their retirement completely could find themselves shocked if they have not planned ahead properly. Individuals may be forced to settle the business before it has been properly evaluated by somebody else and it could mean selling the business for less than what it is worth. These are just a handful of the reasons why you need to consider a business succession plan now.

One of the biggest reasons to consider business succession planning now is that you should not count on any traditional plans unless you’ve had the opportunity to talk them over with your loved ones. For example, if you believe that your children are going to take over the business, you should never assume this until you’ve had the opportunity to speak with him directly.

A vast majority of small business owners plan to pass the business down through the family but if there is no one interested or talented enough to take on these key management roles, you could find yourself struggling to find an ideal partner when it is time to plan the transition the business quickly. You should have these conversations early in order to tap ideal individuals well in advance since you may need to develop some of the talent within the company, knowing in advance how you plan to pass it on can help you implement training opportunities now. There has never been a better time than now for business succession planning, both for protecting your family and your company’s future.

Do I Really Need an Elder Law Attorney to Help with Medicaid?

Going through the process of helping a loved one qualify for Medicaid can be extremely overwhelming if you have never encountered it before. Even experienced individuals may find themselves confused by all of the various aspects required to qualify for Medicaid. This is why it is strongly recommended that you consult directly with an experienced elder law attorney when going through this process for yourself or helping an elderly loved one.

One of the first things you need to do in order to qualify for Medicaid is to ensure that you meet the determination of needs score. This is what is used to determine whether or not an individual actually requires long term care in an official nursing home. This assessment can be determined by many different organizations. Additionally, the income eligibility requirement is critical for determining if your income exceeds the private cost of care. Qualifying for Medicaid can be extremely complex as there are numerous rules and regulations associated with this process.Medicaid elder law NJ

The income eligibility requirements and the resource eligibility requirements are some of the most confusing aspects of the process overall. In the event that you have tried to give away assets in order to qualify for Medicaid and you have given away these assets too soon in conjunction with your Medicaid application, the look-back period can be used to deny your eligibility for Medicaid. It can be a significant blow to discover that the government is refusing you Medicaid eligibility.

That is why it’s well worth your time to consult with an experienced individual who has a background as an elder law attorney. If any of this process seems confusing, that’s because it is. This is why you need an elder law attorney who has helped others determine their long-term Medicaid plans and other long-term care issues well in advance. You can help avoid confusions and frustration by working directly with an attorney. Ready to get started? Contact today if you have questions.

Five Reasons to Do Estate Planning Now

While there are numerous reasons that you should consider protecting your estate, there are five primary reasons that you should communicate with an estate planning attorney planning NJ

Protect Beneficiaries

An estate plan can be used to protect both adult and minor beneficiaries from negative outside influences, creditor issues, and bad decisions. It is particularly important to remember to appoint a guardian if you are listing a child as a beneficiary. Using an estate plan helps you defray legal expenses and avoid personal arguments between family members.

Avoid Probate

One of the most common reasons for engaging in the estate planning process is to avoid probate. Although many people don’t have a great deal of actual experience in dealing with a probate process, they understand the benefits of avoiding it. Using an estate plan helps you not only avoid probate, but several other common mistakes and pitfalls associated with estate planning.

Avoid Messy Confrontation

An attorney’s insight can help you tremendously throughout the estate planning process. Separate beneficiaries, family members, and business partners can often spend a large amount of time arguing over assets and possessions if the appropriate documents have not been put together beforehand.

Lower Estate Taxes

Many individuals are realizing the potential influence of state and federal estate taxes on the wealth they have worked so hard to build. Some basic estate planning, however, can help you protect these assets for future generations and also minimize the impact of estate taxes.

Avoid Unforeseen Creditor Predators

Asset protection planning is another important component of estate planning. It is too late to consider entering the asset protection planning process once a creditor has already emerged to threaten your personal asset. Instead, you need to conduct this well in advance by using strategies and tools recommended by an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney. Contact an attorney to learn more about how asset protection strategies can help you now and in the long run. Reach out to for more information.


The #1 Estate Planning Tip for Baby Boomers

We’ve had the opportunity to cover many different and important estate planning topics on the blog, but it can overwhelming to determine what actually needs your attention. Most individuals need at the very minimum a basic estate plan.

Gone are the days, however, when that basic estate plan covers all of your needs. For years, the primary focus of estate planning has been about how to handle your assets after you pass away. Definitely a worthy cause, it’s not the only thing that should draw your attention in the estate planning process.

Baby boomers in particular, who are entering retirement to the tune of 3.5 million people every single year, must consider life planning too. This is because longevity is on the rise. In the year 2050, it is estimated that one out of every five people will be over age 65. During that same time period, the fastest- growing demographic in the country will be those 85 and over.

This increase in longevity is coupled with the fact that more elderly people are living with one or more chronic diseases, too. In the past, these chronic diseases increased a senior’s mortality risk, but many people today are not just living but often thriving with one or more chronic conditions. Did you know, for example, that 92% of seniors are living with one chronic condition? incapacity planning attorney new jersey

Although you might be of sound mind now as you first enter retirement, it is in your best interests to put together estate planning documents associated with incapacity. This helps you to avoid fights among family members and confusion related to your wishes if something were to happen to you in the future.

Thankfully, many of these documents, like a healthcare power of attorney, can be put together by an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney. If something happens to you, having these documents in line can go a long way towards helping your appointed agent make the necessary decisions. Ready to schedule your appointment? Set up a meeting with us to talk today!

What Asset Protection Planning is Not

It has only been in the last decade or so that more individuals are realizing the serious benefits of asset protection planning. This is primarily due to the fact that more people in the U.S. see the litigious society and the serious risks that an individual could be exposed to with just one lawsuit. There are, thankfully, plenty of meaningful and effective asset protection planning strategies, but it’s also important to know what this process will not do for you. asset protection planning new jersey

You cannot use asset protection planning, for example, to avoid paying your taxes. In addition, this kind of planning is usually effective for protecting assets but not hiding them. Bear in mind that an asset you hide could ultimately be found, but one that has been protected is much more secure overall. Finally, an asset protection planning attorney does not engage in asset protection planning with a client under the guise of defrauding creditors.

This kind of planning is the most valuable when you engage in it long before you have an issue. Trying to get legal help in organizing things when a creditor is already attacking your personal assets is much like a day late and a dollar short. The most effective plans are those you have in place well before an issue occurs, and you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to help you get there. Do not hesitate to reach out to someone with experience in this field.



Blended Families Need to Consider Estate Planning

If you have recently remarried, there are unfortunately more opportunities for uneven distributions and disputes when you pass away. You need to carefully consider the inheritance you have set aside for anyone else as well as any beneficiaries you have named in your life insurance, trust, wills and retirement accounts.New Jersey estate planning

It is likely that after remarrying, you may still have your former spouse listed on these accounts. If you do have minor children you also need to think carefully about who needs to be their guardian in the event that you were to pass away. Some of the following questions you should consider when conducting your estate planning with a blended family include:

  • Does my current spouse or former spouse have the authority to make healthcare decisions for me if I were to become incapacitated?
  • Has my new spouse given me the authority to act on his or her behalf for financial and healthcare decisions?
  • Does my current spouse or former spouse have the ability to manage my financial assets if something happens to me?
  • Is my surviving spouse now listed as beneficiary on all accounts including trusts, wills and retirement?
  • Does my current estate plan outline that my current spouse will be cared for when I pass away and does it ensure that my children will receive any remaining benefits when he or she passes away?

Conducting your estate planning with a blended family is just as important as any other circumstance. Contact an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney today to learn more.



3 Big Myths About Succession Planning

We’ve already impressed the general importance of business succession planning in numerous blogs, but many people never get to the point of actually accomplishing it because they are falling for one of these three common myths. shutterstock_228635452

Myth #1: A Successor is Automatically Ready When I Am

Without having this conversation with a successor, you cannot know for sure whether or not a successor is ready to take things over. Careful planning and an initial conversation are both important.

Myth #2: It’s Easier if We Just Plan to Sell

Selling your business is certainly one option for business succession planning, but it should not be the only one you consider. You should never make a decision about the future of your business without first discussing it with key stakeholders and your business succession attorney.

Myth #3: We Have Plenty of Time

This is probably the most damaging myth out there, but it’s also the most common one. Far too many businesses fall into the trap of assuming they’ve got plenty of time in which to finalize their succession plan. The reality is that sudden exits can happen at any time and that your planning should be done long before an incident like this arises.

To learn more about how to approach or update your business succession plan, contact an attorney today.

Obama Administration Eyes Foreign Tax Evasion

The Obama administration recently revealed several areas of focus and efforts to limit loopholes that foreign individuals use to hide assets within the U.S. In his remarks, Obama shared that the Panama Papers helped to indicate steps forward the government is taking to have clearer responses to these kinds of issues, and the president is also asking Congress to formalize better legislation on the topic as well.

The Treasury Department is already taking two big steps related to this. First, they finalized what’s being referred to as the “customer due diligence rule”, mandating that financial institutions do their research to determine where a company is truly located and where the profits from the company are headed. The second step requires that some foreign-owned companies obtain a tax identification number from the IRS. shutterstock_122165071

The president requested four specific actions to be taken with regard to these issues over the course of the future, including:

  • Clear legislation about “beneficial ownership” transparency so that companies would be required to submit these details
  • Legislation to empower law enforcement with better tools to fight corruption
  • Approve 8 pending tax treaties currently stalled in the Senate
  • Evaluate and improve current legislation associated with reciprocal transparency

Questions about asset protection or things you need to know when establishing and managing a business in the U.S.? Get help from an experienced attorney.

What Are the Advantages of Working with an Elder Law and Special Needs Attorney?

When you work with an elder law attorney, you get the benefit of knowing that this individual is well aware of the laws impacting you and your loved one and is committed to helping you apply them correctly. There are clear policy guidelines associated with agencies who administer programs for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. shutterstock_250299895

An experienced elder law attorney can help you evaluate all the potential issues associated with your loved ones and to determine the appropriate strategies for assisting and protecting you well into the future. There are many common mistakes that individuals might make in the process of handling an elder law concern and this can be catastrophic as it relates to qualification from Medicaid and other aspects of long-term care.

Consulting with someone well in advance helps to address issues down the road but it can also be beneficial to form a relationship with an elder law attorney after an issue has arisen. Speaking with someone who is knowledgeable about the law and helps other clients with similar cases gives you the peace of mind that you are working with a true professional. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced elder law planning attorney in New Jersey today to learn more.

Three Estate Planning Documents That Unmarried Couples Need

It is a mistake to believe that as an unmarried couple that you don’t have legal rights and protections that can be afforded to you by the process of basic New Jersey estate planning. This myth is easy enough to believe if individuals suspect that having no real legal relationship means they don’t have anything that needs to be addressed in their estate planning process.

Unfortunately, if you do not address your estate planning options early, even as an unmarried couple, you may run the risk of your significant other being removed from your life or having no rights in the event that you become incapacitated. There are three primary documents that an unmarried couple should consider in their estate planning.shutterstock_274030400

  • A durable power of attorney which allows you to name another individual to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  • A will or living trust so that you can stipulate how you wish your assets to be distributed if something were to happen to you.
  • A healthcare power of attorney which empowers another individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

All of these documents and many more can be accomplished by setting up a meeting with your New Jersey estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Unmarried couples certainly have legal rights to consider and working with an attorney who understands their needs is critical.



Should My Spouse Transfer All Of His Or Her Assets To Me To Qualify For Medicaid?

It is a bad idea to have a spouse make a major transfer of assets if he or she is going into a nursing home unless you have consulted with an experienced attorney. All non-exempt assets held by the wife or husband are held together and then divided between the two spouses for Medicaid eligibility purposes. shutterstock_357404000

The spouse going into the nursing home could be disqualified from receiving Medicaid until his or her portion of the assets is reduced significantly. It is important to consult with an elder law attorney if you have questions regarding Medicaid. The lookback rule allows Medicaid to deny your application if you transfer assets for less than what would be considered fair market value within five years before your application for Medicaid benefits.

Remember that if you do give away your assets it can be impossible to get them back by legal action. Do not assume that passing on your assets to your loved one allows you to get them back in the future if your loved ones do not want to cooperate with this. Consult with an elder law planning attorney to learn more about your options.

What Are the Four Most Common Mistakes that Celebrities Make?

Each time a celebrity passes away, we typically get the opportunity to learn from his or her mistakes. Read on to learn more about the four most common mistakes made by celebrities. It’s currently being reported that pop star Prince may have died without a will and this is one of the biggest estate planning problems. estate planning attorney NJ

No Will

Most individuals want to have some say over how their assets are distributed after they pass away. So, it can even be more shocking realize that as many as 2/3rds of the adults do not have a simple will. Singer Amy Winehouse passed away without a will and left behind a $6.7 million estate.

Failing To Update Their Estate Plans

Having a trust or a will is an important first step as long as it reflects your current wishes. Learn from the estate of Michael Crichton for whom the 2007 will was never updated.

When he passed away, his  sixth wife was pregnant at the time but his will had language disinheriting future children.

Failing to Set Up a Trust

Without a private trust, the details of how you chose to pass things on can be visible to anyone. Whitney Houston’s estate was largely visible to the public as a result of this problem.

Forgetting to Plan

Some people are under the impression that  estate planning is only for handling your affairs after you pass away. There are also plenty of estate planning documents like a power of attorney to help you in the event that you become incapacitate while you are still alive.

If I Fail To Take Action With Asset Protection Planning, Are All Of My Assets Exposed To Creditor Risks?

Although there are many assets exposed to creditors if you do not engage in the process of asset protection planning. Federal laws do protect particular assets. For example, a qualified retirement plan governed by ERISA, such as a 401(k), is protected. These are mostly out of reach to creditors except in a few select circumstances. State laws may also protect various assets as well. The majority of states do protect traditional individual retirement accounts.shutterstock_292965230

Many individuals may also use a life insurance policy to help protect them from potential creditor claims. This allows you to also have the peace of mind that there will be finds left behind for your loved ones in the event that something happens to you. Although there are select circumstances in which some of your assets may be protected from creditors if you take no action, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced asset protection planning attorney to protect as much of your estate as possible. It can be an unpleasant surprise for a lawsuit to arise and to have all of your personal assets potentially attached to this.

Having an asset protection planning attorney is vital to long-term success because you need to be able to mitigate risk at any given time. A long-term approach to asset protection requires regular review so that you can prevent problems before they happen. Even though some of your assets may be shielded already, this does not mean you are fully protected. Contact a New Jersey asset protection planning attorney to learn more.

How Can a Cross-Purchase Agreement Benefit Your Business Succession Plan?

There are many different methods for supporting your business succession plan, or the plan in which you discuss how the ownership of the business will be transferred or methods for determining the business’s value and individuals who will take it over.shutterstock_107855351

A cross-purchase agreement is one such option. These agreements are structured so that every partner purchases and owns a policy on the other partners. This means that every single partner is an owner and a beneficiary on the same policy, with the other partner being the insured individual. When one partner passes away, the face value of each policy on the deceased partner is thus paid out to the remaining partners.

Those individuals then use the proceeds from the policy to purchase the deceased partner’s share of the business at a previously agreed on price. This is just one method for complimenting your business succession plan and it is one that should only be discussed with an experienced New Jersey business succession planning attorney. These vehicles can accomplish your goals but they can be relatively complex and easily misunderstood if you do not work with the appropriate attorney.