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July 2015 Archives

The benefit of having a simple estate plan checklist

Creating a comprehensive and effective estate plan is greatly aided by using a checklist. Even a simple estate plan is comprised of a number of different documents. While each New Jersey family will have a unique set of estate planning needs, there are a number of tools that are commonly used. Understanding these tools and their benefits can make it easier to create a customized solution.

What is estate planning fatigue and who is affected?

The process of planning for the distribution of one's assets at the time of death is difficult for many in New Jersey. Aside from the matter of facing the reality of one's own mortality, there are plenty of practical reasons why many prefer to postpone the estate planning process. Recent research suggests that for individuals and families who hold more than $1 million but less than $5 million in wealth, a condition known as estate planning fatigue may be to blame.

New tools for including digital assets within estate planning

As more and more Americans make use of technology and the Internet, the issue of digital assets has gained greater attention. Digital assets are items of value, including emotional value, that a person creates and stores in the digital realm. This can include photographs, videos and text. Facebook, the popular social media site, is one of the largest repositories of digital assets. The company recently announced changes that can make it easier for users in New Jersey and elsewhere to include Facebook within estate planning.

Estate planning solutions for blended families

When a New Jersey resident remarries, he or she will take on a new set of family relationships. It is not uncommon for married couples to have a blend of stepchildren and shared children, as well as any number of connections to extended family members. This can create a unique set of estate planning needs, and it is important to understand what can occur if a comprehensive plan is not put into place.

Creating a simple estate plan for your pet

The bulk of estate planning efforts are rightfully focused on passing down accumulated wealth to one's chosen heirs. For many in New Jersey, a different type of relationship is often overlooked when considering these matters. Pet owners very often forget to create a plan for the care of their beloved animals, which can leave a favorite dog or cat in serious trouble if the owner passes away. Fortunately, it is possible to create a simple estate plan addition that can help ensure that pets are cared for in the event of the owner's death.

Estate planning mistakes older people make

While it is never a good idea to make sweeping generalizations about groups of people, there are often important lessons to be learned by the choices made by others. When it comes to estate planning, there seem to be certain mistakes that older people make when considering their needs, some of which can lead to negative outcomes. The following examples are errors that a person of any age can make, but that can be particularly prevalent among older New Jersey residents.

Asset protection and nursing home care

When structuring an estate plan, the primary focus of many New Jersey residents is a smooth transition of wealth to the loved ones left behind. In many cases, this is a surviving spouse, who will be entrusted to pass on any remaining assets to children and grandchildren. This approach fails to take into consideration the chance that a surviving spouse could eventually require some form of residential medical care, which can have a devastating impact on a family's finances if proper asset protection planning is not in place.

Estate planning across the decades

As a New Jersey resident ages, he or she will have different estate planning needs. Understanding those needs can help ensure that a proper estate planning approach is put to use, and that one's needs are being properly addressed. While there is no such thing as an "ideal" age to begin the estate planning process, the following guidelines are given in the hopes of underscoring the benefits of putting one's wishes into a legal format.

Asset protection by way of a revocable living trust

When considering estate planning options, New Jersey families are confronted with a large volume of choices, the details of which can be confusing. For most people, estate planning comes down to a few simple goals: asset protection, the smooth transfer of wealth from one generation to the next and the lowest possible tax burden placed upon those assets. One tool that can help meet those goals involves the creation of a revocable living trust, or RLT.

Family-owned businesses and estate tax planning

For many generations, families in New Jersey and across the nation have turned to their family business as a means of passing down wealth from one generation to the next. Through careful planning, families can use their businesses as a means of portability, giving children and grandchildren a way to tap into the family's assets without incurring high levels of taxation. This estate tax planning tactic, however, may soon be subject to change if the Internal Revenue Service places limitations on how those assets are valued.