The Power of a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney

There’s a good chance you have some opinions one way or another about what you want to do with your estate planning, but this should still be discussed with your estate planning attorney in New Jersey. Finding a qualified attorney is very valuable for ensuring that you get all your questions answered promptly. 

Looking for a qualified attorney in your local area allows you to form a relationship with this professional and to continue to meet with him or her on an ongoing basis. One way to identify the right attorney is to ask friends or colleagues for referrals. If you have unique situations that might influence how your planning unfolds, you need to discuss this with your lawyer. Small business owners, parents of children with special needs, and blended families will all have their specialized needs that should be addressed by a lawyer.

Make sure you set up an initial consultation and ask pertinent questions about the attorney’s experience. Some of the recommended questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing?
  • How many clients have you helped?
  • What proportion of your practice is devoted to estates?
  • How do you charge for your services?
  • Do you have experience with my individual concerns?
  • Do you help clients with tax planning?

If you’re ready to hire an experienced lawyer to help with your estate planning, contact a New Jersey estate planning attorney today.

Clinton and Trump Estate Tax Proposals

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump unsurprisingly have completely different plans for the country’s estate tax. While Trump wants to kill the estate tax, Clinton hopes to increase it. However, experts believe that any changes made to the policy will have a minimal impact on tax receipts under the Clinton proposal. This is because the estate taxes had a minimal contribution to revenue over the last several years.

Research from the IRS indicates that the estate tax generated a total of $16.4 billion in 2014, but that is a significant decrease from 2006 when the revenue was $24.6 billion. When compared with years gone by, the revenue from the estate tax has decreased even further. For example, up to 8% of all debts resulted in triggering the estate tax in 1976. However, in 2011, that number dropped to 0.13%. Estate taxes in total make up less than 1% of the country’s revenue as shared by The Tax Foundation.

The number of exemptions is the leading reason behind the decline for revenue. In 1976 the states were responsible for paying taxes on anything valued more than $60,000, however, the threshold today is at $5.5 million for individual estates. The highest estate tax rate has also decreased. The 1981 numbers were 71% but that dropped to 55% in 2000 and is now sitting at 40% today.


Think Beyond the Will for Optimal Estate Planning

When it comes to the process of financial or estate planning, the focus will usually be on preparing you for the future. There are certainly several different aspects of this, including deciding the best time to select Social Security, putting together a will and thinking about how taxes will influence your future.

There is one exception, however, and that is estate planning. Estate planning focuses solely on you and helps to give you greater peace of mind and security about your future.

Although the elements of financial planning will primarily benefit you, the purpose of estate planning is to benefit charities and other loved ones long into the future. This can make a critical different when thinking about the differences between estate and financial planning. In order to address uncertainty, you need to think beyond the will.

Certainly, the will is the foundational element of your estate plan but it’s not the only factor your need to consider. Your estate may be more complex than you think and you may need to have a trust as well as powers of attorney, healthcare directives or guardian designations. Speaking with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney is the only way to ensure that you have covered all of your bases.


Add Estate Planning Review to Retirement Checklist

Approaching retirement involves a careful calculation of several different numbers- what you’ll be bringing in from any pensions, when you’ll leave your position for good, and when you should elect to receive Social Security. Don’t overlook the calculations about what will happen to your assets after you pass away, however.

Thinking about death is not something that’s top of mind for anyone, but it’s also critically important and worthwhile. In addition to putting together a will, you may have more assets than you think, necessitating a conversation with your New Jersey estate planning attorney about how you’ll plan for taxes and whether it makes sense to use a trust.

A healthcare proxy and powers of attorney are good tools to have just in case, too. Far too many people don’t realize just how common a disability-related event can be. Without the proper tools in place, you can make it difficult for family members to understand your wishes and to carry them out.

Likewise, even if you are drawing from a retirement account, make sure the beneficiary information is fully up to date. You may need to evaluate this a few times over the course of your retirement as life changes, but set up a meeting with your estate planning attorney to talk about all the documents you need to have in order to address your full estate planning needs.

What Business Owners Should Consider for Estate Planning

After putting in all the hard work to get your business off the ground, it can seem like a good time to take a break from planning. After all, who wants to think about the end when you’ve just made it to the beginning? The ones most likely to skip out on estate and business succession planning are young business owners who consider themselves to have few assets.

Although it might seem counterintuitive, taking the steps to conduct estate and business succession planning early on is strongly recommended. Business owners forget that assets like retirement plans and group life insurance can be classified as part of your estate. This means that if someone dies without a will, state laws determine where those assets will go rather than the former owner. This can lead to unintended outcomes, like a young business owner’s parents, receiving all the assets. 

Bear in mind that death is not the only reason someone might exit a business. It’s essential to partner with an experienced attorney to discuss what happens if a partner or a shareholder exits the business due to disability, for example, all the same questions will be raised about transferring management or other responsibilities. Without proper planning, there can also be unintended tax consequences, too. Having a clear plan to outline what should happen when any partner or essential stakeholder needs to step out of the business suddenly.

Without a proper plan, all of the hard work that went into establishing and growing your business can come to a screeching halt. This can be extremely problematic and can even impact the company’s ability to get things organized quickly.

Ready to get a plan in place for your company to minimize transition headaches? Contact an experienced New Jersey business succession lawyer today to learn more.



Improve Your Estate Planning Goals with Charitable Bequests

Everyone has three primary types of capital in their estate – legacy capital which will be passed on to heirs, social capital which goes to society, and personal capital which supports a lifestyle. For the majority of individuals doing their estate planning, their social capital would go to the IRS and the US government is then responsible for determining how it is used.

Many people are under the impression that if they leave money to a charity when they pass away that it will minimize their family’s inheritance. However, if you work with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can incorporate philanthropy in your estate planning and in many cases, redirect money that might currently be directed to the IRS due to lack of planning back to your family and charities that you care about.

Advanced planning can be extremely valuable in this situation because the timing of a charitable bequest can make a big difference for everyone involved. Consulting with your estate planning attorney about the charities that you intend to support is strongly recommended.

When an Inheritance Passes Outside the Family, What Concerns Are Raised?

Any time that someone who is not related by blood is named as a beneficiary of an asset, lawsuits are a potential concern. When you are thinking about giving assets to someone who is not a relative, you need to be extremely careful and consult with a knowledgeable attorney.

One of the primary reasons that red flags are raised about leaving assets to anyone outside of the family has to do with elder financial exploitation which has been on the rise in recent years. Even in the event that a beneficiary or even the person granting the gift has pure motives, this could still raise questions when the estate is being probated.

Naming someone other than a natural heir as an estate beneficiary can bring forth a wide range of emotions from confusion to suspicion to anger especially because the majority of individuals in America will leave behind assets to a charity or loved ones who are related by blood.

One of the best ways to address this situation if you do plan to leave assets to someone outside the family is to have someone stipulate to your mental capacity at the time of making the will. Consulting with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney to ensure that your document is legally valid is essential as well.

Gene Wilder Leaves Behind Memories of Philanthropic Goals

Gene Wilder recently passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. His legacy as an actor was almost certainly tied to his iconic role as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but he was also significantly generous in his philanthropic efforts to raise awareness for ovarian cancer after his third wife, Gilda Radner, passed away from complications associated with ovarian cancer.

It is believed by some estate planning experts that his philanthropic efforts were inspired by a genuine desire to help the cause as well as the fact that he had no children to leave assets to. There are many different reasons that you may consider leaving behind assets to a charity. Those individuals who plan to give to charity for altruistic purposes may still be able to reap tax benefits while using appropriate estate planning techniques.

Charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts allow the grantors to support charities the grantor is passionate about as well as providing estate tax and income tax charitable deductions as well as being able to benefit family members at what’s known as a reduced transfer tax cost. The timing of the charitable gifts can be an important consideration and this is why it should be included in the conversation with your estate planning attorney.

Think Carefully About Selecting Beneficiaries When Estate Planning

Think carefully about the best interests of your beneficiaries when putting together comprehensive plans. You need to think carefully about their own ability to manage the information and the best way to pass it on to them. This is a highly personal decision and one that can be filled with emotions, particularly if you have loved ones who expect that you’re giving them a particular piece of property. Having this conversation can be difficult if you have changed your mind, but it’s a good idea to meet directly with an estate planning attorney to talk through options. There are many strategies and concepts for passing along assets to someone else that you should be aware of and consider incorporating into your plan. 

Although it might be tempting to leave property and assets outright to your loved ones in your will, this is often not the best strategy, particularly since your will is subject to probate and can become a matter of public record. It can also be more problematic for your loved ones if there is no control on your end exercised over how the assets are distributed.

Many adult children may struggle with the sudden influx of money in the form of an inheritance, but a trust can add an additional layer of control to ensure that a spendthrift child is protected from himself or herself. Speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to determine how to appropriately protect loved ones while also leaving behind a meaningful legacy for them as well. Consulting with an attorney can help to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses in your current estate plan and provide you a road map of where to go from there.


When Is the Best Time to Start Estate Planning?

Most people think of estate planning as being attached to their own mortality so they put the process off for as long as possible. How and when your death might happen is something that you have no control over, but you do have a significant amount of control over how you plan ahead for the future. 

Estate planning is not just about determining what happens to your assets after you pass away. It is a process that also involves careful consideration of important decisions to be made throughout your life.

These are the major reasons why individuals choose to use a power of attorney. It’s also a misconception that only individuals with a high net worth need estate planning. This causes far too many people, who may otherwise benefit from estate planning, to avoid the process altogether and compromise their interests. If you have a family that is dependent on your income, it is essential to plan ahead with proper strategies and tactics so as to protect your loved ones. It is never too early to start the process of estate planning.

The sooner you begin to outline your intentions for your family as well as what will happen to your property after you pass away, the more confident you will be about the future. Planning now also allows you to amend your plans down the road as well as life circumstances change, but it is important to take the first step to protect yourself.

Not Married but in a Long Term Relationship?  You Need Estate Planning, Too

It is becoming more common for couples to cohabitate and live together as if they are married but it is important to understand that you do not necessarily get the protections of marriage just by living together.


As many people already know, when two individuals get married, they get certain statutory rights to one another’s estates. As these rights are statutory they are automatically attached as spouses. If a married couple doesn’t wish to have these rights they can be limited by using a post-nuptial or pre-nuptial agreement. However, couples that are living together but are not married must have to plan in order to leave one another property.


In addition to handling questions over property, don’t forget about healthcare representative and power of attorney appointments. If two individuals want to be involved with one another’s healthcare decisions and finances over your lifetimes, you need to create this authority by meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney. This is the best way to protect your interests and to ensure that you have covered all of your bases.
Bear in mind that couples that have been together for some time but who are not married do not have the same protections as married couples and therefore must take additional steps to guard themselves.

Late Versus Advanced Planning for Asset Protection

It should go without saying that advanced planning for asset protection can have significantly more benefits than trying to address a problem after it has already arisen. 

Planning years ahead of a problem will have the best possible outcome in the event that a threat does arise. This means that if trouble does happen you will be protected but that you also have the peace of mind that you have a plan in place in the event that a threat does emerge.

After a problem or claim does come to fruition, you might be considered guilty if you scramble to protect your assets. You could also be accused of a fraudulent transfer or even worse. It may also be too late to address problems if you attempt to wait until a problem has happened.

Asset protection planning after a problem or claim arises can backfire significantly. It is essential to speak to an asset protection planning attorney as soon as possible to protect your assets now and not wait until it is too late or well into the future. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced asset protection planning attorney to learn more.


Are Regular Wills and Living Wills the Same Thing?

Estate planning attorneys often receive questions about what a living will is. Many people are under the assumption that a basic will or a simple will is the same as a living will. Usually, a living will is an important component of an individual’s estate plan. You may need to consider multiple tools and strategies when conducting your estate planning.  

It can help decision makers by telling those individuals about the wishes of the person who has created the living will. A living will allows you to specify how you would like to be cared for should you become incapacitated or critically ill and unable to make decisions on your own.

Living wills may be frequently confused with regular wills but living wills are more limited in scope. This is because they include stipulations about who and how these individuals can make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so.

This is why sometimes you will hear a living will referred to as an advanced healthcare directive. To learn more about whether you need a living will and how it can benefit your estate planning toolkit, set up a meeting with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney today.


What Powers Should I Consider Giving to My Power of Attorney Agent?

In addition to managing your financial affairs on a day to day basis, an individual appointed to represent you can also take steps to implement your estate plan, depending on how you structure your power of attorney. A power of attorney is a crucial document in your estate planning, but it’s one you should not put together unless you work directly with an estate planning attorney. There’s a lot of peace of mind in knowing that you have chosen someone to step in on your behalf if you are unable to do so, but this appointment also comes with a lot of responsibility and is thus a decision you should take seriously. 


An agent is usually unable to revise your will on your behalf but an agent can still impact the outcome of how assets are distributed by changing the title associated with those assets. This is why it is always a good idea to stipulate in your power of attorney whether or not you want an agent to have these powers. Gifts are another important aspect of many estate plans.
Your power of attorney agent can frequently make gifts on your behalf so long as he or she remains subject to guidelines that are structured in the power of attorney. In addition to making gifts on your behalf and impacting how assets are distributed, the laws in your state may also allow you to give your power of attorney real estate management powers if you do own a vacation home or valuable personal property. Talk to your estate planning attorney to learn more about this process.

Do You Have an Authentic Business Succession Plan?

In order to appropriately engage talent and retain quality employees, your succession plan must be both transparent and authentic. 


Many things about the modern employment contract have shifted in recent years but employee commitment is usually still rewarded with development opportunities that will be beneficial for that employee’s career mobility down the road. For the most ambitious of the employees, the highest reward is usually the opportunity to have a position at the top of the company. Succession management is usually the biggest tool that organizations use in order to vet candidates who may be capable of taking on these top positions. This usually happens with the practice of promoting from within.


This can help to attract strong talent to your employee pool to begin with because it gives a clear prescription for development. In order to advance to higher positions, employees know that they must show personal growth, deliver results and master certain skills. While succession plans may be present in your current business, the degree to which this plan is actually followed can vary tremendously. Recent studies have found that even those with a well-developed succession plan often lack the implementation skills to carry out what is stipulated.

It is important to think of your succession plan for the business as a living document. The guidelines and suggestions within it must be followed and reviewed on a regular basis in order to make the most out of the plan.

If I Don’t Take Any Steps for Asset Protection Planning, Are All of My Assets Exposed to Creditors?

Most people who have never engaged in the process of asset protection planning before may wait until it is too late to take appropriate action. Although it is certainly worthwhile to reach out to an asset protection planning attorney in the event that you are already exposed to a claim, there are limited things that an attorney can do as far as developing strategy to prevent this problem from escalating. 


The best time to visit someone to talk about asset protection planning is well in advance of a problem emerging.


Many assets can be exposed to creditors but some are protected under federal laws. For instance, if you have an ERISA governed qualified retirement plan like a 401(k), these are essentially out of the reach of the creditors in all but a few limited circumstances.


State laws may also protect certain assets like as his or her primary residence, but bear in mind that the level of protection will vary from one state to another. The majority of states will also protect individual retirement accounts but not all states will offer the same level of protection to Roth IRAs.
Many individuals will carry life insurance policies as an additional way to pass on assets to future beneficiaries. Meeting with an asset protection planning attorney and discussing all of your options is the best way to determine whether or not you have a comprehensive asset protection planning strategy already set up.

Set up a meeting today to talk over your options by reaching out to

Don’t Forget Healthcare Paperwork in Estate Planning

When you think of estate planning, there’s a good chance that a will or a trust comes to find. While crucial components of your plan, these are not the only things you need to consider when you sit down with a New Jersey estate planning attorney. Remember that there are many critical issues that can come to light during your life, so planning for potential incapacity is just as important as thinking about what happens to your property after you pass away. 

The legal issues surrounding the practice of medicine are complex and constantly changing. That’s why it’s important to have an estate planning attorney who understands these issues and works with you to protect what’s necessary. At a minimum, a healthcare power of attorney is necessary in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. If you have particular wishes about end of life care, this is something you should discuss with your attorney as well to ensure that you are appropriately protected.

Your state may have additional rules and requirements that you should know about. Having an attorney who is proactive can go a long way in helping you prepare for these complicated issues. As your life situation changes, you may need to update the powers of attorney as well as your other estate planning documents. Do not hesitate to identify the right attorney to help you with this process, as the ideal relationship between you and your lawyer is a long-term one.

To learn more about healthcare issues in planning, consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney. This is particularly true if you’re looking to plan well in advance for potential Medicaid qualification.