Comparing What You Need to Know About the Presidential Tax Reform Proposals in 2016

It’s expected that tax policy will be one of the biggest issues in the 2016 presidential campaign. To understand how various presidential candidates, view this issue, read on to learn forms

  • Estate tax. The Hillary Clinton plan propose increasing the highest estate tax rate to 45% and lowering the estate tax exclusion to $3.5 million. Donald Trump eliminates the estate tax entirely. Bernie Sanders would propose increasing the top estate tax rate to 65% and lowering the estate tax exclusion to $3.5 million.
  • Income tax: Rates on ordinary income. Hillary Clinton wants to add a 4% tax on income over $5 million. Donald Trump establishes four tax brackets with rates of 0%, 10%, 20% and 25%. The top rate applies to income over $150,000 for single filers and $300,000 for joint filers. Bernie Sanders, likewise establishes four new brackets but these are 37%, 43%, 48% and 52%. The top rate applies to taxable income over and above $10 million. All other tax brackets would be raised by 2.2%.

Although it’s impossible to predict just yet how these income and estate tax proposals could influence you, and whether they would be successful, you need to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can help guide you regardless of the changes made. Attorneys who are familiar with the changes made legislatively and at the turn of every new presidential administration can help explain to you how this would trickle down to you and what you can do to prepare for it in advance.

Do not hesitate to reach out to a New Jersey estate planning attorney to learn more.

Planning Mistakes to Avoid if You Have a Special Needs Child

There are several different mistakes you can avoid when setting up future plans for your disabled child. An individual with special needs will have concerns that will continue for years after you pass away and planning ahead significantly can ease your own fears about this individual’s future. What follows are some of the most common mistakes that are easily avoided by working with a New jersey special needs planning attorney.child check up

  • Choosing the wrong trustee. A special needs trust is always very complex, so it is important to work with someone who understands these needs. It can be a mistake to choose a close friend or a family member to serve in this role because family members and friends are unlikely to be experts on these kinds of trusts. You might choose to have an attorney serve in this role instead.
  • Failing to maintain or properly fund the plan. It is essential that sufficient assets be available for an individual throughout his or her lifetime when special needs are a concern. Life insurance may be the appropriate vehicle for this purpose.
  • Relying on siblings to pay the way for a special needs brother or sister. You should not count on your children using their own inheritances or assets to provide for a special needs sibling. This is a risky long-term strategy, especially in the event that one of these siblings develops financial problems and is no longer able to support their sibling with special needs.
  • Creating a special needs trust inside a will rather than using a revocable living trust.

Special needs planning can be very complex which is why you need to consult with a New Jersey estate planning attorney who understands all of the issues at play and can advise you about potential next steps. Keeping this estate plan updated as well is important for planning ahead for your loved one’s future.

Key Steps to Take to Improve Your Retirement and Estate Planning Outlook

When you are approximately five years away from retirement, you need to make sure you follow the five steps below in order to protect your interests and ensure that you have planned ahead appropriately for all possible concerns. retirement

  • Make a protection plan. Guard against risks that could burn down your income plan. You need to take a careful look at your retirement accounts and ensure that you have enough to support you. Some estate planning is beneficial to help protect you from taxes, particularly in states that have an estate tax.
  • Make an appreciation plan. Working with your financial management advisor can help you with any financial goals you have in the years leading up to retirement.
  • Identify an Income Plan
  • The best way to understand the income you’ll need in retirement is to think about fixed expenses, variable expenses, and debt. You can compare this against the guaranteed sources of income like a pension or social security. You may need to identify other opportunities just for yourself as well.
  • Make a tax plan by working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney and potentially and accountant.
  • Put together your estate and legacy plan. To put to rest any concerns you might have about taking care of your loved ones in the future, consult with a knowledgeable attorney to make sure that all of your documents are in order including your financial power of attorney, healthcare directives, trusts, wills and your financial power of attorney.

To learn more about how these tools can help you, consult with a New Jersey estate planning attorney today.


The Pros and Cons of Living Trusts vs. Wills

Wills and trusts are both essential estate planning tools. A living trust cannot address everything like naming a guardian for your minor children, so even in the event that you have identified that a living trust will help you, you’ll still need a will in (1) It’s a good idea to have a will, regardless of the size of your estate.

A will is always needed to address assets that are not transferred into the living trust prior to death. Living trusts can be helpful but they often must work in cooperation with a will. The primary reason to use a living trust is to avoid the probate process.

A will would have to go through probate but a living trust does not. In the state of New Jersey, probate is often seen as an inconvenience because there is a time delay and some costs associated with management before the assets can be distributed. This isn’t, however, so burdensome that a will should be avoided entirely.

If you have out of state property, a living trust may be the right tool to use in order to avoid ancillary probate which is a separate probate process entirely in the state where the property is located. Trusts can also be helpful for long term care planning situations and planning ahead for special needs.

Using a Will Can Help to Eliminate Confusion

While many people understand the benefits of having a will, they still avoid putting one together. Without a will, all of your heirs may become co-owners of your various assets. this means that they’d have to work together in order to disperse or manage that property. You might think that your estate is too small for estate planning, but that’s not the case. Anyone who owns property or has minor children can benefit from using a basic will. Skipping this process could make things more confusing or frustrating for your loved ones, so it’s better to outline your wishes in a will after you’ve spoken with an attorney. Wills are relatively easy to put together and they can clarify your wishes for your property after you pass away. last will and testament

A will, however, can protect you, your children, and your spouse. It allows you to accomplish multiple goals at once, including:

  • Naming a person to manage any assets you leave to your minor children
  • Identifying a guardian to care for your minor children
  • Naming and executor to ensure that your will is carried out the way you want
  • Leaving your assets or property to specific organizations or people

It can be a mistake to avoid putting together a will in the first place but it can be an even bigger mistake to try to put together a will on your own. All wills must fall in line with applicable state laws and small mistakes on your paperwork could render your will invalid. Thankfully, many of these goals can be accomplished or concerns eradicated by meeting with a New Jersey estate planning attorney. Since the will is the most basic of estate planning documents, consulting with an attorney protects you now and into the future.

What You Should Know About Retirement & Planning and Alzheimer’s

If you believe that you have an elderly loved one possibly impacted by Alzheimer’s, it is important to consider this as a unique opportunity for retirement and estate planning. Many individuals in the sandwiched generation may be thinking about putting together the legal documents for their loved ones but also planning ahead for their own future to protect their interest as well. New survey research indicates that Americans fear developing Alzheimer’s disease more than any other life threatening disease including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.old couple

The survey also identified that if diagnosed with the disease, Americans most fear the inability to care for themselves and having to burden their family members by losing memory of loved ones and their life. According to research from Harris Interactive, since 2006 the percentage of individuals who fear getting Alzheimer’s has increased more than other diseases significantly. The average cost during the last five years of life for dementia can run as high as $278,000.

While some of these expenses can be paid for with Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance, a substantial amount is often paid by family members as well. Doing the advanced work to prepare for the Medicaid process can be beneficial by contacting a New Jersey estate planning attorney.

Estate planning often gets pushed aside in this process although it can be significantly helpful for preparing a loved one for the potential in the future of developing Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about what you can do as far as Medicaid planning and estate planning to protect your own interest and the rights of your adult parents, speak with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney today.

Should You Be Concerned About the New Nevada Commerce Tax?

Nevada has recently instituted a new tax referred to as the commerce tax. This tax is calculated on any gross receipts higher than $4 million at a rate classified by your NAIC code from the fiscal period of July 1st to June 30th of every year. 2016 is the first year for this tax return change, but this tax return is due even if you do not presently have gross receipts higher than $4 million. You may be responsible for completing a return, but you can contact our office to learn more about this obligation.  tax planning help NJ

You need to have these returns prepared and sent in by August 15th, 2016. Although you may have just received your welcome letter from the state in order to register your business entity to submit this tax return online, bear in mind that the state of Nevada will not be providing you with tax returns directly. If you, for some reason, do not receive the welcome letter from the state of Nevada, you need to visit the state’s website in order to ensure that you have the appropriate Nevada business license. You are still responsible for completing the tax return if you meet the qualifications, whether or not you actually receive the letter.

This tax return applies to any entities with a business license including rental properties on an IRS schedule E. On the first page of the tax return, there is a checkbox indicating that you have gross receipts in excess of $4 million. In the event that your gross receipts do total more than $4 million, you may be eligible to take advantage of adjustments to lower your taxable amount, but you need to speak to your attorney as soon as possible. Since time is of the essence, reach out to our offices today to learn more how we can help you.



What’s the Problem with Outright Distributions and Gifts?

 If you’re thinking about passing on parts of your estate to your beneficiaries, this is certainly a worthwhile goal but it’s one that should be considered carefully. Leaving gifts outright can lead to problems. For example, some of the most common issues associated with leaving assets to your beneficiaries directly include:

  • The trustee of any trust does not have an opportunity to build relationships well with the beneficiaries.
  • Bankruptcy courts can seize a bankruptcy beneficiary’s inheritance to pay creditors and associated costs
  • A divorce court could ultimately ward some of the inheritance to creditors, limiting your beneficiary’s inheritance to satisfy the creditor’s claim

Using trusts to plan ahead can allow you to have some control over how these assets are distributed to your beneficiaries while also giving you peace of mind that some or all of these issues can be addressed. Depending on your overall goals, a trust can help fit into your general estate planning and allow you to accomplish multiple goals at once. A trust, among other asset protection planning tools, is strongly recommended. shutterstock_307039916

Consulting with a New Jersey estate planning attorney is strongly recommended if you intend to go through this process. Speaking with an attorney sooner rather than later can help to accomplish your goals now and take these worries off your plate.

Are You Prepared to Deal with Critical Illness?

Most people are aware of the benefits of saving for retirement, or even setting up a meeting with an estate planning attorney. But what about unexpected emergencies like critical illness? Costly medical bills, the need to provide financial security for any surviving family members and the costs associated with home care and hospitalization can be devastating.long term care NJ

That’s why many individuals approaching retirement age are thinking not just about how to support themselves in retirement, but also about the benefits associated with long term care insurance plans or other planning strategies. Most people expect that Medicaid will kick in immediately if they are involved in a long-term care event warranting hospital or nursing home care. In order to qualify for Medicaid, however, you must have limited resources and assets.

Not all individuals will be able to qualify for this. An increasingly long term care events are happening to individuals who are young and otherwise healthy before an accident happens. Long term care events are not isolated to individuals who are classified as elderly. A long term care event can happen to anyone. For example, imagine that you have been injured in a serious car accident and you need to take a month or even three months off of work to recover in a facility with intensive care.

Even with health insurance, the costs of going through this process can be catastrophic and it can change your life in big ways. Make sure you think about the benefits of planning for emergencies like disability or accidents in addition to all of you long term planning goals.

The Concerns of the Sandwich Generation

Everyone can benefit from estate planning, but this is especially true for adult children who find themselves sandwiched between caring for their own young children and helping aging parents. According to research from the Associated Press, nearly 10% of adults aged 40 or older are currently supporting at least one of their own children while also providing regular ongoing care for an older relative. This gives rise to financial concerns. However, those concerns don’t often translate to planning attorney NJ

More than half of those sandwiched Americans have done nothing or very little planning for their estate. Being introduced to the needs of an older individual can help to initiate this conversation about the benefits of estate planning.

Consulting with a lawyer about your estate planning goals is extremely beneficial, regardless of whether you need basic tools like a will or a living trust or a more complicated planning. An estate planning attorney can also help you discuss elder law planning for your aging relative so that you have some idea of what to expect and can take strategic steps now to prepare for long term care events.

What Is a Simple Will?

Most people will benefit from having the basic estate planning document known as a simple will. It might seem like it’s too overwhelming of a process or that you don’t need this, but everyone can benefit from putting their thoughts into a will. Setting up a meeting with a New Jersey estate planning attorney can help you accomplish this goal. Everyone can benefit from having at least this basic document in their estate planning file folder. As your needs become more complex, you can continue to work with your New Jersey estate planning attorney to incorporate additional strategies and documents as will

A simple will is a document that helps you take care of the most essential of estate planning goals, including naming a guardian for your minor children, putting someone in charge of the minor children’s financial affairs, selecting the person who will serve as executor of your estate, and distributing property after your death. If you have a relatively small estate and you’re under the age of 50, then a simple will likely will handle all of the aspects of estate planning you need at this particular point in time.

With a larger estate or more assets with more complicated plans, then a simple will might not be the right choice for you. Consulting with a New Jersey estate planning attorney can give you a broader overview about what to expect in the estate planning process and when a simple will does and doesn’t work for your individual needs.

What You Should Know About Special Accounts for the Disabled


You may have heard that there’s a new kind of plan out there for savings for disabled individuals, specifically as it relates to long-term care. Some people are under the impression that this is a new version of a 529 plan, but it’s actually a new type of account that is similar in certain ways, especially meant for those who have disabilities. This is known as the ‘Achieving A Better Life Experience’ Act which was signed by Barack Obama in December of 2014. This Law allows individuals with disabilities to have a tax-free savings account in which they can set aside up to $100,000 without jeopardizing their eligibility for government programs, like Medicaid or supplemental security income. shutterstock_165450731

This is known as the ‘Achieving A Better Life Experience’ Act, which was signed by Barack Obama in December of 2014. This Law allows individuals with disabilities to have a tax-free savings account in which they can set aside up to $100,000 without jeopardizing their eligibility for government programs, like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

SSI benefits would be suspended for individuals who have more $100,000 in these accounts, but Medicaid benefits would continue. These ABLE accounts are modeled quite like 529 college savings plan, since interest earned on the savings is income tax-free. Bear in  mind, however, that any contributions to an account like this are not tax-deductible, though.

The funds inside an ABLE account can be used to pay for healthcare, transportation, housing, and education. In order to qualify to have an account like this, an individual has to have a disability that occurred prior to Age 26.

There are annual caps on contributions under the Federal annual gift-tax exclusion. In 2016, this amount is $14,000. If you’d like to talk more about caring for an individual in your family who has special needs, consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney today.

What to Do After a Loved One Passes Away


The death of a close friend or a family member can rock your world in big ways. There are many different legal matters that need to be addressed as soon as possible after a loved one passes away. Although this can be an overwhelming time, understanding the steps to take can be important.funeral

First of all, pets need to be taken care of.

Your loved one may have listed directions about who is to receive the pets, but you need to ensure that these animals have food, water, and shelter during the interim period.

Second, make sure that you think carefully about the security of your loved ones home.

Someone should be put on duty in order to turn the lights on and off regularly, collect newspapers, visit the house and keep an eye on it, collect mail every day. May also be a good idea to change the locks. Unfortunately, some criminals take advantage of obituaries being published in the newspaper as an attempt to break into the home, and this is particularly true if it is believed that the loved one had access to prescription medications.

Next, remove any perishable items from the home and set up mail forwarding.

This may not be easily accomplished until someone else has been formally appointed as a personal representative of the estate.

Next, begin a spreadsheet or a log of all the time and/or expenditure associated with managing the deceased’s affairs and arrange for a visit to the safe deposit box.

You may also want to cut off or return any credit cards that are in the deceased individual’s name, since it is illegal to use them. This process could be overwhelming, but this is not the case when you meet with a New Jersey estate planning attorney to talk through your options.


Checklist of Questions That Every Business Owner Needs to Ask

There are several different questions that you need to ask in order to ensure that you have protected yourself against risks and engaged in proper planning. shutterstock_189579146

Do All Owners of the Business Have an Updated Buy-Sell Agreement?

A buy-sell agreement determines what happens to ownership interests and the business if they need to be transferred due to a disability, termination of employment or owner’s death.

Have You Reviewed Your Legal Structure at Least On an Annual Basis?

Whether you’ve been in business for awhile or whether you’re new to the game,] make sure that your business structure is always set up in the most advantageous manner.

Has a Succession Plan Been Outlined?

You need to ensure that the ownership and authority have been outlined when a business owner transitions and it is passed on to someone else.

Is There an Emergency Management Transition Plan/Procedure in Place?

Make sure you have a plan in the event that a key individual suddenly becomes incapacitated, unavailable or deceased.

Does Your Business Have Regular Shareholder’s Meetings and Annual Directors Meeting?

You should always schedule these in order to update the stock book and corporate minute book.

Do You Have Updated Contract Forms that Have the Clear Business Terms and Conditions

These forms should have clear terms and conditions aligned with protecting your business.

Have You Reviewed Any Potential Liabilities, Litigation Risks and Obligations?

The business should have a plan to guard against exposure, but you should also make sure that individual owners also have their own personal asset protection plans.

Do You Have an Employee Handbook?

Your employee handbook should include key terms about disabled employee rights, family medical leave, law changes involving discrimination, social media and sexual harassment.

When Hiring Employees, Do You Have Them Sign Noncompete Agreements, Non-Disclosure Agreements & Confidentiality Agreements?

This can be an excellent way to protect the business you have worked so hard to build and to lay ground rules from the outset of working with a new employee.

Is a Business Executive Compensation Plan in Place?

One of the best ways to reward loyalty is to ensure that you have rewarded retaining key employees and enhancing their commitment to your company.

Are Business Owners Thinking About Growth?

Are you thinking about acquiring other companies and growing your company in this manner?

Are you Thinking About Selling the Business to Someone Else?

If you are thinking about ultimately selling the business, or if you have received increase from someone interested in purchasing the business, there are many different things you need to prepare for.

Have Any Owners of the Business Expressed a Desire to Leave or Separate?

This is one more reason why you need a business succession plan in place.

Do Business Owners Also Have Ownership in real Estate Where the Business is Located?

Make sure that you have reviewed the recent developments and changes in the law and ensure that the legal structure of real estate ownership has been analyzed recently.

Have You Developed an Asset Protection Plan to Minimize Your Exposure to Liabilities?   

Make sure your plan covers all potential liability exposure. You can discuss this further with your New Jersey asset protection protection planning attorney.


When Should I Start Looking Into Asset Protection Planning?

If you believe that you may have exposure to risk, you should begin the asset protection planning process immediately by setting up a meeting with a New Jersey asset protection planning attorney. The most effective way to handle this situation is to begin your planning process before any significant claim rises against you.

A claim does not arise when a judgement or lawsuit is made against you. Instead, it happens when the underlying event or the circumstance that causes the claim happens. If you suspect that you might be sued but you have not yet been sued, it could actually be too late to do asset protection planning. Many people are exposed to more risks than others as a result of being in a high-risk profession.

Contractors, paramedics, architects, pilots, physicians, entertainers, professional athletes, political figures, individuals in the public eye and high net worth individuals may all benefit from comprehensive asset protection planning. How this ultimately looks for you depends on your conversation with an asset protection planning attorney. All strategies should be aligned with your personal needs and your exposure to risk. By setting up a meeting with an asset protection planning attorney today, you will have a better idea of what to expect and how to protect yourself now and well into the future.