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May 2015 Archives

Spouse-centered estate planning tips

For many in New Jersey, the primary focus of their estate plans is to ensure that their families are taken care of in the event of their deaths. For married couples, the person best-suited to carry out one's wishes is usually the spouse. By centering estate planning around the person one trusts the most, a favorable outcome is not only possible, but likely.

Estate planning and beneficiaries: Potential outcomes

For many in New Jersey, the act of creating a comprehensive estate plan brings about a sense of relief in knowing that these matters have been addressed. With the right degree of effort, estate planning strategies can work wonders in ensuring that one's wishes are followed when the time comes. It is important for individuals to understand, however, that simply creating a will is not a catch-all solution. Many assets can still pass to others upon one's death if the proper precautions are not taken.

Basic steps to estate planning success

Most tasks that people find onerous can be made easier by taking a step-by-step approach. This is true for purchasing a house, adding to one's family or planning a vacation. It is also true for estate planning, and many in New Jersey find it helpful to break down the process into simple steps. The following outline offers guidance on the matter, but it is important to note that each individual or family will have a unique set of needs, and the basic steps chosen should reflect those goals.

Asset protection planning and intrafamily loans

For those in New Jersey who have amassed a significant volume of wealth, a higher level of estate planning is often required. Once wealth has surpassed the estate tax exemption amount, currently $5.43 million per individual, more complex asset protection strategies are necessary. A solution that can work for many families lies in an intrafamily loan.

Looking at the long term for wealth preservation

When an individual is able to attain a high level of financial success but does not come from generational wealth, a lack of knowledge concerning complex estate planning is sometimes an issue. Many New Jersey families who have amassed first generation wealth are concerned about how to pass that wealth on to their children, but few take an approach that goes beyond that simple transfer. When it comes to wealth preservation, a long-term strategy is the best possible approach.

Even a simple estate plan should address digital assets

When many New Jersey residents consider their estate planning needs, they focus on traditional types of assets. We think about retirement savings, investments, cash and property. Few people take the time to consider how less tangible assets, such as those that exist in the digital realm, should be factored into the process. However, in today's technological world, even a simple estate plan should address digital wealth.

Has your estate planning approach passed its expiration date?

For those in New Jersey who completed their estate plans many years ago, a sense of security is often present. These individuals and families know that they have taken the steps needed to ensure that their accumulated wealth will pass on to their chosen heirs as intended. It is important to note, however, that many legal changes have taken place over the years, making it important for individuals to conduct periodic estate planning "check-ups" to ensure that their needs are still being adequately met.

Older asset protection strategies may be obsolete

Many New Jersey residents have taken proactive stances toward their estate planning needs and have had their documents in order for many years. This is admirable, especially considering the number of people who fail to address asset protection needs -- many of whom die without having any plan in place. However, simply completing the estate planning process is not enough to ensure that the highest level of protection is in effect. In some cases, estate planning tools become obsolete over time.

Could the estate tax soon be a thing of the past?

The estate tax, also commonly referred to as the "death tax," is a popular subject among many in New Jersey, even though very few Americans are at risk of being subjected to the tax. People tend to hold strong opinions on the matter, and it is a prime example of a topic that tends to reveal one's political leanings. The estate tax has once again become a topic of conversation due to a recent House vote supporting the repeal of the tax.