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Phone: 201-345-3018

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January 2011 Archives

Mental illness a barrier to some in the creation of estate plans

Last week we discussed a study that found African Americans were less likely to have certain estate planning documents in some situations. Specifically, they were less likely to have advance directives or living wills when they were residents of a nursing home or recipients of home health care. Another recent study found that those with a serious mental illness also represent a group of people less likely to have these important documents.

Are Reverse Mortgages a Sound Estate Planning Tool?

Is a reverse mortgage a good financial move? Well, the answer to that question is the same as just about all legal questions - it depends. For some people, a reverse mortgage may turn out to be a good estate planning decision that allows them to use their home equity. For others, it may turn out to be an expensive way to get some quick cash, but not enough to solve their financial problems.

Lawsuit Filed in Connection With the Will of a Music Icon

When someone famous passes away, it is still possible for his or her estate to continue earning money. Consequently, the deaths of many celebrities give rise to litigation based on estate planning documents, such as wills and trusts, because their beneficiaries often stand to lose or gain a great deal of money.

Study Shows Racial Gap in use of Living Wills, Advance Directives

A recent study seems to indicate that a growing number of people are utilizing documents such as living wills and advance directives. However, in an interesting twist, there also seems to be a gap between black individuals and white individuals when it comes to using these planning documents.

State Governor Signs Pet Trust Legislation

Some Massachusetts pet owners breathed a sigh of relief last week after Governor Deval Patrick signed a much anticipated piece of pet trust legislation. The legislation authorizes trusts to be created for the care of a pet or pets after if pet owner were to die or become disabled. The new law goes into effect 90 days after last Friday the 7th, the date the legislation was signed.Massachusetts has lagged behind 43 other states and the District of Columbia in this facet of estate planning, all of which have similar legislation in place to afford pet owners the option to create enforceable trusts that set their pet(s) as a beneficiary as well as stipulating a caretaker for the animal(s). New Jersey has had such legislation on the books since 2001. See N.J. Stat. Ann. ยง 3B:11-38 for more details.

New Jersey Estate Tax Considerations for 2011

The federal government recently released new federal state tax exemptions for 2011 and 2012 that benefit the wealthy more than some state legislatures  anticipated, with exemptions available up to $5 million per estate and $10 million per couple. Though these high numbers currently leave many states sitting without estate tax revenue they might have been anticipating, New Jersey is not one of these states.Death tax planning in New Jersey is a bit more complicated than in most states. Ours is one of two states in the country that currently imposes both inheritance and estate taxes at the state level (Maryland is the other). Our estate tax exemption amount is $675,000, the second smallest amount exempted of any state behind Ohio, where only $338,333 is exemptible. Our state's top tax rate for estate taxes is set at 16 percent. Regarding inheritance taxes, New Jersey offers no exemptions, and the top tax rate for these taxes is also set at 16 percent.

Caring for Your Elderly Relatives and Medicaid Planning, Part 2

In our last post, we began discussing some of the issues surrounding paying family members to provide caregiving services. Here, we want to continue that discussion by talking about potential tax implications and how these arrangements may affect Medicaid planning.

Caring for Your Elderly Relatives and Medicaid Planning

A confluence of factors are presenting many people with some interesting and complex problems related to Medicaid planning and estate planning. An aging population, high unemployment, and the rising cost of long-term care have combined to present many with the question of whether it is wise to pay relatives to provide caregiving services to family members.