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June 2015 Archives

How to avoid estate tax and give to charity

Many New Jersey families have amassed a considerable amount of wealth. When considering estate planning options, many of these families are looking for ways to minimize their estate tax obligation while also allowing their wealth to have a positive impact, both for their heirs and for society in general. One option that meets both of those objectives is the creation of a family foundation funded by a charitable trust.

Storage is an important estate planning step

Many New Jersey residents spend a significant amount of time refining their estate plan to ensure that their assets are distributed to their chosen heirs. Once that process is complete, a sense of relief often follows. It is important to understand, however, that even the most thorough estate planning package is worthless if one's heirs are unable to access the proper documents when the time comes.  

Do women have unique estate planning needs?

When it comes to planning one's estate, each and every New Jersey resident has a specific set of needs. While there are many estate planning solutions that work for virtually everyone, there are other tools available that can customize the outcome based on an individual's goals and challenges. For example, many women have very specific needs and require a different estate planning approach than their husbands.

Estate planning tips for same-sex couples

With several landmark cases set to go before the Supreme Court, the nation is poised for a change in the manner in which same-sex marriage is handled in every state. At the same time, debate on the matter continues to rage, and the battles surrounding the legitimacy of these unions remain at play. Until the matter is ultimately resolved, many same-sex couples in New Jersey are taking an overly cautious approach to their financial and estate planning needs.

The role that basis plays in asset protection

Prior to the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the primary focus of most estate planning was the avoidance of the estate tax, which could reach as high as 47 percent of the value of inherited assets. Now, however, only those New Jersey residents who have an estate valued at more than $5.43 million will be affected by the estate tax. For everyone else, the focus on asset protection often turns toward reducing the income tax burden placed upon heirs. The way that the IRS calculates that tax depends on the basis that is held by the individual who inherits and then sells a property.

How to discuss estate planning with the kids

Most New Jersey residents are aware of the need to create a comprehensive estate plan well in advance of actually needing those documents. That said, very few families take the time to sit down with their adult children and discuss the details of that plan, which can make it hard for children to set the plan into motion when the time comes. While no one wants to have a lengthy discussion about his or her own demise, talking to your kids about your estate planning choices is part of the overall process.

Integrating beneficiaries into an estate planning approach

Some New Jersey residents are unaware that simply having a will in place does not provide comprehensive estate planning coverage. Accounts that have designated beneficiaries fall outside the scope of a will, and the provisions laid out within those account documents will supercede those within a last will and testament. Understanding the power of beneficiary designations can give individuals a degree of flexibility when it comes to estate planning.