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Phone: 201-345-3018

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August 2012 Archives

Death tax minimization: an important task in estate planning

Our New Jersey readers have already heard about the upcoming expiration of the $5.12 million federal estate tax exclusion amount. That number will drop back down to $1 million if Congress fails to act by the end of the year. At this point, it isn't clear exactly what will happen, but many people are preparing for the big decrease by making last minute gifts.

Without an estate plan of your own, state uses one-size-fits-all plan

Our readers may not be aware of it, but everybody has an estate plan, whether they want it or not. Did you know that? That's right. If you choose not to work with an attorney to get your affairs in order, you still have an estate plan provided by the state. That plan is laid out in an "intestacy" statute, which decides how your property will be disposed if you don't make that decision yourself.

Thomas Kinkade's late girlfriend faces uphill battle in will contest

In a previous post, we wrote about the death of Thomas Kinkade earlier this year. As we noted, the 54-year-old painter died of accidental alcohol and Valium overdose, leaving behind over $66 million. Not long after his death, his estranged wife of 30 years and his girlfriend became locked in a battle over Kinkade's estate.

Business owners should consider making gifts before end of year

In our last post, we spoke about the importance of reviewing one's estate plan periodically to ensure it keeps up with current law and continues to serve one's needs. We named five different events that should prompt the review of one's estate plan. A recent article in Forbes looks at the matter from the perspective of wellness. The article does mention the importance of reviewing one's estate plan, particularly for families with family-owned businesses, and notes that now is a particularly good time to do so.

Estate plan should be review upon occurrence of important events

While many people know, at least in theory, the value of getting estate planning documents in place, even fewer people understand the importance of ongoing estate planning. Good estate planning is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. Decisions made in the process of estate planning are not set in stone. Circumstances do change, though, and estate plans should be updated along the way.

California case causing estate planning attorneys to change approach to trust formulas, P.2

In our previous post, we began looking at a case in which a court ruled to be invalid a trust amendment executed shortly before the death of a woman. That trust setup, as we noted, contained a formula clause intended to utilize the full exclusion amount and minimize estate taxes.

California case causing estate planning attorneys to change approach to trust formulas, P.1

A recent probate case out of California demonstrates the importance of foresight in estate planning. In that case, a couple had set up a trust in order to minimize estate taxes, and made use of a device called a formula clause, which allows typically divided the estate so that their children would get the amount of assets in the federal estate tax exclusion, with the rest going to a marital trust for the surviving spouse. The purpose of this arrangement is to allow the full exclusion amount to pass to heirs tax-free.