What Role Does Life Insurance Play in Your New Jersey Estate Planning?

If you do not have significant assets but already have a life insurance policy in order to help provide income protection if you were to suddenly pass away, you may be curious about additional ways to fund an inheritance for your children or grandchildren. Leaving behind an inheritance for your loved ones is certainly a worthy goal and it can factor into the overall estate planning for you and your spouse. Life insurance can help to close the gap if you believe that you may need to access some of your own assets in order to support your retirement. You might even establish an irrevocable life insurance trust. estate planning NJ

The first step to take in this process is to inventory all of the assets you have and to determine with your financial planning advisor and your New Jersey estate planning attorney, what portion of those assets need to be allocated towards supporting you in retirement. From this point on you may determine that additional funds inside retirement or investment accounts could be passed on to your loved ones.

You may also decide, however, that additional life insurance is a good way to support and leave behind a legacy for your loved ones. You would need to decide what kind of insurance is most appropriate in this situation. The most affordable type of life insurance is known as term life because it can be obtained relatively inexpensively and provide protection for you and loved ones, if something were to happen to you over a specific period of time. You can speak with your New Jersey estate planning attorney to learn more about how life insurance may fit into the scope of your long-term estate planning needs.


10 Steps for Solid Estate Planning

Much like any other strategy for planning ahead for your future like purchasing an insurance policy, setting up your retirement account or stipulating a college savings account for your children or grandchildren, estate planning is an important part of your life. There are many different steps that you can take and it can be as structured or as simple as you need it to be.estate planning NJ

The good news is that meeting with a New Jersey estate planning attorney can help you accomplish the majority of your goals. Read on to learn more about 10 various steps you need to take in the process of estate planning.

  1. Appoint a healthcare durable power of attorney.
  2. Designate a general power of attorney.
  3. Write out your last will and testament and have it reviewed by a New Jersey estate planning attorney.
  4. Draft a living will if you have specific wishes about your medical care.
  5. Write out your funeral or memorial instructions and make sure that your attorney has a copy as well as any relevant loved ones.
  6. Put together a living trust.
  7. Outline all documents and accounts.
  8. Put together a care plan for your pet, if you need one.
  9. Make sure that your digital and social media accounts are ready for the transition, if necessary.
  10. Make sure that you review the plan on an annual basis.

All of these goals and more can be accomplished by setting up a meeting with your New Jersey estate planning attorney.


What Estate Planning Issues Should You Keep in Mind On the Birth of a New Baby?

Having a new baby is an amazing and exciting experience, but it also brings many estate planning issues to the front of your mind. Taking charge of your estate planning will give you a great deal of peace of mind that your family is taken care of if something happens to you. It is a myth to believe that the estate planning process only incorporates strategies for minimizing estate taxes or handling your assets after you pass away. In fact, having a child brings to light many of the important issues associated with protecting your new child while you are still alive. These four issues are the most important to consider after you have given birth to a child.estate planning new baby NJ

Your Will

Not only does your will outline what happens to your assets after you pass away but it also allows you to name a guardian for your minor child.

Financial Power of Attorney

This empowers another individual, usually your spouse and a contingent person to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Medical Power of Attorney

Similar to your financial power of attorney, this allows someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf. You may also choose to put together a living will if you have specific details about your end of life medical decisions.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Upon a birth of a child, you may want to go and add this individual as a beneficiary on your IRA, life insurance policy or retirement plans, so that it reflects your current family. Anytime you have a new child, this should also be done. Don’t want your child to get direct access or control of the funds right away or at too young of an age?  You can name a trust as a beneficiary as well. But be aware, the wrong type of trust can have adverse tax consequences.

Consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney today to learn how a growing family impacts your estate planning needs.


Comprehensive Asset Protection Planning Checklist

There are many different areas in which you may be vulnerable to a predatory attack during a lawsuit. For example, regular business activities, owning real estate, or operating a motor vehicle could all expose you to potential lawsuit risks.asset protection planning checklist NJ

Most people are aware that lawsuits are more common in our society today than they have been before. That being said, far too many people do not give enough attention and planning to the benefits of guarding against these risks. This process is known as asset protection planning, a form of risk management planning that can be helped by asset protection planning attorney.

The ultimate goal of asset protection planning is to prevent lawsuits from happening. The following questions should always be asked as you go through the process of asset protection planning.

  1. Have you consulted with a knowledgeable insurance consultant about an insurance adequacy analysis for your business as well as you personally?
  2. Do you understand the benefits and basic structures of traditional asset protection planning arrangements within your state as well as a limitation of each, including:
  • Holding assets in qualified employer-related retirement plans and IRAs
  • Using life insurance policies and annuities
  • Owning property and joint names with your spouse
  1. Do you understand how trust can benefit your asset protection planning goals?
  2. If you do have real estate, do you have it owned in a manner that will limit your personal exposure to risks?
  3. Is your business structured properly in order to minimize your personal exposure to lawsuit risk?
  4. Has your business been properly structured and analyzed in order to prevent exposure of assets based on present or future creditors of the owners of the business?
  5. Have you structured an operating agreement, a shareholder agreement, or partnership agreement that has asset protection planning provisions within it?
  6. Are your investment or business assets separated into different legal entities to protect one group of assets from being associated with another?
  7. Do all of the formalities associated with the operation of your business such as having a separate bank account, not intermingling business transactions with personal, executing legal documents in the right manner, keeping regular minutes, and keeping separate records?
  8. Do you know how to structure asset transfers in the most effective manner in order to minimize any exposure to fraudulent conveyance laws?
  9. Do all of your personal estate planning documents have designated provisions associated with protecting assets passing to your children or your spouse?

Are you ready to discuss your next steps? Shah & Associates is here to help you with all your New Jersey asset protection planning concerns. Reach out to our office today to learn more. Set up an appointment by contacting info@lawesq.net .

Should My IRA Be Placed in a Trust?

Estate planning can be as complicated as you want them to be, but in many cases, you could benefit from setting up a meeting with an attorney to discuss your options. An estate planning attorney can help you accomplish multiple goals, and if you have the desire to protect your assets as well as possible, this can often be achieved with several different methods.

Imagine, for example, that you have a substantial IRA set aside. You might be wondering about the best way to pass this on to your beneficiaries. Your primary options are to give them this benefit directly from the IRA itself or to place it inside a trust. Trusts for IRAs are very rare, but that being said, they also have their time and place. NJ estate planning lawyer

The basics of IRAs can be helpful to understand in this content. In most cases, if you’re married, the beneficiary on your IRA is your spouse. When you pass away, the surviving spouse has the option to transfer the IRA into his or her own name. From that period going forward, the regulations are not much different than what you might have experienced yourself. This includes any impacts from RMD rules. The other option is to treat the account as an inherited IRA. In this scenario, the deceased individual’s name stays on the IRA and the surviving spouse is named as the beneficiary. A big benefit to this strategy is that if the inheriting spouse is less than 59 1/2 years old, then the entire account is exempted from a 10% federal penalty. RMDs, though, begin on the date of birth based on the deceased spouse. If the surviving spouse is under this age threshold and needs access to some of the funds, an inherited IRA may be the best route. He or she can opt to rollover the IRA after meeting this age threshold.

To learn whether or not a trust is right for your estate planning goals, contact an experienced New Jersey attorney to learn more about your options. With many tools and strategies available, it’s a good idea to find the right mix for you.

Estate Planning Tips for Those 40 and Under

The truth is that it’s never too early to begin the process of estate planning, particularly if you have minor children. Estate planning allows you to accomplish multiple goals at once, including:

  • Minimizing the tax implications of your estate
  • Naming a guardian for your minor children
  • Deciding how you want your assets distributed if you pass away
  • Determining who is appointed to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated
  • Making determinations about your end-of-life care

All of these decisions are things you should think about now, even if you’re under the impression that your net worth is not high enough to warrant estate planning. Too many people make the mistake of assuming that their net worth is not enough to meet the estate tax threshold and that therefore, all estate planning can be put off. This can be a major mistake, and one that’s easily avoided by setting up a meeting with an estate planning attorney.NJ estate planning attorney

Perhaps the most important aspects of the estate planning process are not associated with what happens to your property after you die but instead who is empowered to make decisions for you while you’re still alive. If something happens to you, for example, you may need someone to act your behalf with regard to healthcare decisions or financial options. Having someone to make these choices for you ahead of time means that you have the peace of mind that your affairs will be managed if you are suddenly incapacitated.

No one expects to be in an accident, but the reality is that being in one can turn your life upside down if you have not done some careful planning ahead of time. You need to think ahead about who you trust in a position like this and articular these desires to those individuals as well as your New Jersey estate planning attorney.

Planning for Business Succession and What You Need to Know About Sales

Any number of major companies can illustrate the importance of business succession planning. Succession planning issues always make for interesting news subjects especially when they involved major companies like Disney, General Electric or Berkshire Hathaway. Although Disney had what they thought was a clear plan in place to replace their CEO, the individual intended to replace Bob Iger announced suddenly that he was leaving the company as well. NJ business succession planning

It looks like from the perspective of analysts that Disney may need to extend the contract with the current CEO while they look for an appropriate successor. and of course, it comes as no shock to anyone that the company’s stock value took a drop this last week. Succession planning is just as important for smaller and family owned companies as it is for these major companies. Whether you plan to transfer your business to a family member or an outsider, it will more than likely involve some kind of formal transaction. Research shows that 34% of business owner respondents, in fact, have received a formal offer for their business but 88% of these decided not to sell saying that it simply wasn’t the right time.

Among business owners who had not yet received an offer, according to an RSM Middle Market Leadership Council survey, 22% believed that they were likely to sell in the future, raising the question about how they would transfer ownership if they did follow on this track. There are several different questions you need to think of when conducting your business succession planning. These include:

  • Will you, the owner, have sufficient income or assets outside the business entity if you pass on to a family member?
  • Will you be able to achieve your necessary retirement and estate planning needs if you sell to an independent buyer?
  • What role would you like to play in the business after it is sold, if any?
  • What after-tax proceeds do you need to count on to meet your charitable estate planning, lifestyle, and other goals?

Meeting with a New Jersey estate planning attorney can help you accomplish these goals and more.   Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can help. Set up your meeting by emailing info@lawesq.net.


More Than Half of All U.S. Parents Don’t Have a Living Trust or a Will

According to a research study from 2015, just slightly more than half of American parents have a living trust or valid will document. Even more troubling is the fact that the majority of adult children wouldn’t know where to locate these documents if they needed to find them. There are several reasons why adults today do not have access to these critical estate planning documents. First of all, most people are not planning for their own mortality.NJ estate planning

Cost, too, may also be a factor but this is because many people do not realize how affordable it is to obtain a living trust or a will from an experienced attorney as well as the long terms implication of protecting yourself and your future by doing so. It is important to have a will and a living trust to outline your wishes and to make things easier for your loved ones if something were to happen to you. Even more important than developing a relationship with an estate planning attorney for this purpose is to make sure that your loved ones know where to find this document if something does happen to you.

Keeping a copy at your attorney’s office is a good idea but you may also wish to use a safe deposit box or secure online storage location so that your family members can have access to these materials if they needed. Planning ahead for the future is important whether you choose to use a living trust, a will or other combination of documents. Setting up a meeting today with an estate planning attorney can help you figure out what is most appropriate for your situation and to put together a comprehensive plan to accomplish your goals.

Why Do I Need to Think About Medicaid Planning Now?

If you are relatively healthy now, you may think that you can skip out on the process of planning ahead for long-term care, but this is a mistake. What happens in the event that you sustain an injury or an illness requiring nursing home care and you don’t meet the asset or income test for Medicaid. For far too many individuals, the option is to pay for care out of pocket each month in the nursing home until they have spent down their assets enough in order to qualify for coverage.Medicaid advance planning NJ

Monthly nursing home bills, however, can be more than $3,500 a month, meaning that your entire life savings can be decimated extremely quickly. It also leaves your loved ones, including a spouse, with no financial cushion or protection. It would be extremely frustrating and likely ashamed to feel that a lifetime of hard work and disciplined savings has gone to the waste, leaving your family without any form of protection.

There is also no need to spend majority or all of your assets on nursing home care prior to qualifying for Medicaid coverage. There are safe harbor provisions that allow you plan ahead and protect your assets, but in order to do this, you must approach the planning process well in advance. This is one reason why you need to set up a consultation with an elder law planning attorney who has a focus on Medicaid.

Planning now helps to minimize the chances of problems well into the future. If you have already encountered a long-term care crisis currently, it may be too late to take action, but planning ahead helps to protect your loved ones and your assets. Are you ready to start the process now? Contact our offices to set up a meeting.


How Business Succession Planning Can Help with Smooth Transitions

It’s imperative to think carefully about replacing any high-level employee in your business, but this is especially important as it relates to a CEO. There are major risks associated with not having a long-term strategic plan for replacing someone at the head of the company. Succession planning should be discussed early although many companies fail to accomplish this goal until they have learned the value of doing so by speaking with a business succession attorney or until the company has gone through a rough transition period.

Take a lesson from the spice company, McCormick. They use many of the same tools that other companies do, including job rotations, a long-term strategic view and regular assessments for all senior executives. This is largely due to the fact that the sudden death of a prior CEO and health issues that forced the current CEO’s departure from the company.

Planning for succession is as much about deciding the future direction of the company as it is figuring out what plans and people you have in place to direct that transition with minimal negative impact on the company. With training and advance preparation, the next generation of leadership in the company should rise to the occasion.business idea

According to a recent study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, 55% of companies felt that they were only somewhat or not at all prepared for the departure of a CEO as a result of an emergency. All too often, boards of directors don’t consider replacing a CEO until a year or two before the individual currently in the role is planning to leave, but at that point in time it’s too late to develop someone else to take over the role. It is imperative to plan ahead for a smooth transition in order to allow the best possible chance of success.

Ready to talk succession planning? Contact our office at info@lawesq.net to learn more about your options and suggested next steps.


What’s an Asset Protection Trust?

The asset protection planning trust is still a relatively new tool for those interested in guarding against risk. In the late 1990’s, Delaware enacted legislation that allows for transferring in assets to a trust that is classified as a qualified deposition rather than a fraudulent transfer, and for this reason more individual than ever are interested in learning about Delaware asset protection trusts. The trust has to be irrevocable and the trustee must be involved in the administration of said trust in order for this document to be legally valid. New Jersey asset protection planning

Furthermore, the trust must be governed by Delaware law and the trust must include a spendthrift clause. Usually, a trust like this will name a settlor as a beneficiary of the trust, but it’s recommended that you also name discretionary beneficiaries, too. This allows the settlor to have more flexibility as time goes on in the event that the settlor may want to enact distributions to loved ones, for example.

Establishing a Delaware asset protection trust on its own is not enough to shield you from a potential lawsuit. An asset protection trust can be attacked by a creditor in certain situations. Usually, a successful threat to your APT depends on situations in which the settlor has moved the majority of his or her assets into the trust, circumstances where the settlor was aware of pending litigation issues, or any fraudulent transfers. The best way to protect yourself from a situation like this is to consult with an experienced asset protection planning attorney both as you set up the trust and as you discuss the life of the trust, too. It’s just as important to manage a tool like this properly so as to avoid future problems.

Do you have questions about asset protection trusts? Are you concerned about shielding your assets from creditors? If so, set up a meeting with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney. Contact our office at info@lawesq.net to set up a meeting today.




Common Misconceptions About Estate Planning 101

Even if you have not yet completed these documents, you probably have heard the terms “will” and “power of attorney” before. From that point, however, a lot of people fall for some common myths about these critical estate planning documents. Get the details on what you really need to know below.

First of all, a last will and testament is not the same thing as a living will. Your last will and testament is your official declaration of how you want your assets distributed when you pass away. If you do not have a last will and testament, then the state of New Jersey determines what happens to your property. Your living will, however, is the document outlining who you want to make decisions about your healthcare in the event that you are unable to do so. The biggest reason why people choose to have a living will is because they want to define what measures should be taken if their condition appears terminal. Your living will can share your wishes regarding the duration of and the level of care you’d receive in a situation like this. attorney (1)

Likewise, all powers of attorney are not one and the same. A power of attorney allows you to name someone else authorized to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Your power of attorney could be temporary or limited, meaning that only circumstances trigger this individual being allowed to make decisions for you. A durable power of attorney, however, allows you to appoint another individual to represent you until death. Finally, your healthcare power of attorney is a different document altogether in which you name someone to make decisions regarding your health needs.

These might seem like small differences, but they are not. You need to be well-informed about your estate planning in order to have the documents that will help support your wishes should the need arise.

Estate Planning is Valuable for All Ages

Too many people make the mistake of assuming that you only need estate planning after you have accumulated significant resources or when you have children. Everyone at all ages, however, can benefit from estate planning. This is true even for single individuals and unmarried couples.

Estate planning is about more than putting together your will to distribute property after you pass away. In fact, some of the most challenging situations that pose legal issues are those that happen while you’re still alive. For example, do you have a plan for who can make financial or legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated? While no one expects these scenarios to happen, one car accident or long-term care event could render you unable to make these decisions for yourself, even temporarily. estate planning NJ

Without proper planning, you put your family members and loved ones in a difficult situation. A loved one who is not legally allowed to visit with you in the hospital, for example, may struggle with unnecessary frustration if something were to happen to you. Thankfully, there are documents that can help to address all of these concerns and these goals can be easily accomplished by setting up a meeting with an estate planning attorney. Having these documents on file means that you have a plan in case you need it while you’re alive and it makes things easier for your family if something does happen to you.

Your estate plan should be an evolving set of documents designed to help you address critical illness or disability issues, plan for distributing your property after you pass away, and to minimize the implications of taxes. Setting up a meeting today with a New Jersey estate planning attorney can help you address one or all of these goals, and forming a relationship now with someone you can trust means that you’ll be able to update your materials easily as your plans change, too.

November Election and Potential Estate Planning Impacts

With every change of administration come concerns about how this will impact national policy. The election could have several outcomes depending on Congress, as well, which will also impact just how much wiggle room and legislative support the incoming president receives. The reality is that it’s not likely much will change if the parties stay as polarized and split as they are currently, but here are some predictions about how estate planning laws and strategies might look different depending on who walks away the winner.estate planning strategy NJ

A Republican Congress and a Democratic president over the last four years has meant there has not been much substantial change in the way of estate planning recently, and that’s likely to continue if Clinton wins. That’s mostly because Clinton supports the same strategies as Obama, such as minimizing the estate tax exemption from $5 million to $3.5 million and boost the estate tax rate up from 40% to 45%. Unless Democrats are able to walk away with control of the Senate and the House, however, it’s unlikely either one of these provisions makes it through and becomes a reality.

Trump, however, plans to eliminate the estate tax entirely. Obama also currently has plans to eliminate or tighten up the requirements for more advanced planning strategies, including dynasty trusts, gifts to defective trusts, intra-family discounting, and GRATs.

The most important thing you can do with your planning goals is to work with an estate planning attorney you can trust. Although administrations and legislation do change, having an informed attorney can be one of the most effective ways to accomplish your estate planning goals. It’s imperative that all your documents are properly worded and drafted with the current laws in mind, and an attorney in the know can help you determine how any upcoming changes will impact your current plans. Consult with a New Jersey estate planning attorney to learn more.

Boosting Your Company’s Value with Business Succession Planning

One of the most common myths about business succession planning is that all you need is a buy-sell agreement. There’s no doubt that a buy-sell agreement may be an important component of your overall strategy, but it’s unlikely to be the only piece.

There are plenty of reasons to have a business succession plan in place as soon as possible, including:

  • Avoiding lack of continuity to impact clients
  • Having a clear vision about how the company can be sold or divided in the event of a sudden crisis
  • Protecting an owner’s equity
  • Preparing the next generation of leaders to step up to the plate

Your succession plan should be comprehensive and it should be a living plan. It’s not enough to have a basic idea about how things should happen in the event that an owner unexpectedly or even willingly departs the company. The best-laid business succession plans also have a systematic expectation regarding how ownership will be transferred. This includes a backup plan if the initial strategy is, for some reason, unachievable. business succession planning NJ


One benefit of succession planning that many owners don’t fully realize is that it can be used to lower risk to allow growth, ultimately boosting the company’s value. One key issue that can be difficult to calculate for the valuation of any business is known as the company’s “goodwill.” The extent to which this can be transferred to future owners will significantly impact the value of the company. If you approach succession planning with the right frame of mind, this should include transferring top clients to the succession team so that client confidence can be maintained.


In order to get the most out of succession planning, it should be completed as soon as possible and be something that leaders return to over time if circumstances change. To get started today, contact an experienced New Jersey business succession planning attorney.

How a Captive Insurance Company Can Help You with Planning and Risk Management

There are numerous different reasons to consider using a captive insurance company and it is quite similar to a commercial insurance company in that your captive insurance company sets premium rates associated with the risks it chooses to underwrite, puts together policies for their risks insured, pays out claims, collects premiums and is licensed as an insurance company.

at a meeting  captive insurance company NJThe major difference between a commercial insurance company and a captive insurance company is that a captive doesn’t have the ability to sell insurance to the general public. Instead, it only underwrites risks of the owner organization or related businesses and entities. One of the benefits of working with a captive insurance company that you create is that the rules and regulations associated with captive insurance are typically less overwhelming than regulations dealing with commercial insurance carriers.

One of the major reasons that someone considers setting up their own captive is because they have risks that cannot be covered in the current marketplace. This is usually a starting point, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the only thing that a captive insurance company can help you with. Speaking to an attorney familiar with this market can help you identify exactly how to use this planning opportunity.

A captive insurance company can be used to achieve limits that are not currently available in the market like regarding terrorism or credit risk. They can also be beneficial in terms of a tax shelter approach when it relates to large retentions.

There can also be tax advantages associated with the captive but these require working with a sophisticated asset protection planning attorney to help you structure the initial operations of the captive insurance company and to ensure that it is appropriately managed. Consult with a New Jersey asset protection planning attorney today to learn more.


How to Select the Right Elder Law Attorney

Most people have not had the experience of keeping an attorney on retainer. Most of their interactions with a lawyer happened for a specific purpose, like buying a house or handling a sudden litigation issue. That’s why it can be confusing when facing elder law issues, because you need to identify an attorney with whom you can form a relationship.elder law New Jersey

Your elder law attorney should be someone you can trust, because he or she will be helping you with the planning and decision-making associated with your golden years. As people are living longer, there are more and more complex issues that need to be addressed by people facing retirement age. Having a long-term plan for your assets and your healthcare is important, and an elder law attorney should work with you personally to help identify your individual needs.

That being said, if your interaction with attorneys has been sparse and focused largely on resolving one specific issue, you need to shift gears when hiring someone to help with your elder law needs. You need to first understand how an elder law attorney can help you. An elder law attorney is a lawyer who may help you with some of the specific but also the broader picture associated with your needs as you get older, including:

  • Planning for long-term care
  • Making sure your estate planning documents match your goals for your life as well as after you pass away
  • Coordinating private and public resources to help pay for long-term care, should you need it
  • Helping you identify possible locations for care

These are just some of the things that an elder law attorney can help with, but it’s essential that you find someone who focuses on holistic solutions. No two people are the same, and each elder law planning opportunity presents the need for unique considerations. Make sure you identify a New Jersey elder law attorney with experience in the field.

What Mark Zuckerberg Can Teach About Business Succession Planning

The business succession planning strategy of Mark Zuckerberg could have important ramifications for individuals who are approaching retirement and thinking about whether or not it is time to move on. business succession planning NJ

For example, Sumner Redstone, a multi-billionaire, is currently locked in an argument with trustees and his family over the control of his companies, Viacom and CBS. One of the key takeaways that Sumner and other individuals approaching retirement without a business succession plan can learn from Mark Zuckerberg is that there are key generational differences in the way that entrepreneurs build their companies.

In all situations, it’s in your best interests to avoid winding up in Redstone’s situation. You might assume that exiting the business is so far in the future that you don’t need to worry about it, but this is a mistake. In fact, there are many reasons that you may wish to exit or sell the business outside of death of an owner, and planning ahead for these can make for a smoother transition when the time comes.

A new survey from U.S. Trust found that younger business owners are planning to exit their companies and raising money in ways that are quite different from older generations even though many of their key concerns about eliminating or moving on from their role in the business are the same across generations. The younger generation deals with succession planning in very different ways.

Although two-thirds of current business owners do not have a formal exit strategy, and for the baby boomer population only 52% of younger business owners do not have an exit strategy in place. To learn more about how a business succession plan can help you accomplish goals for your company as well as determine when it time to move on in the future, consult with a New Jersey business succession planning attorney today.