4 Essential Components of an Estate Plan

When we hear the phrase “estate plan”, it’s easy to think of complex, convoluted legal strategies that only apply to the wealthy – but it’s not. In reality, it’s a set of legal documents that ensure that your wishes are met, whatever they are. Here’s a guide to the basic components, from an estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

  1. A Last Will and Testament: This document can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be – it’s all about you, after all. Using a Will, you can have your own say as to who inherits items, assets or funds from you in the event of your death – without one, the State will decide for you. This is a great way to leave sentimental items to loved ones, to provide for your dependents or even support a charity close to your heart.
  2. Durable Power of Attorney: This is a legal document that appoints a person of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf when you can’t do so for yourself. Without one, the State will appoint a person on your behalf to make these decisions. These documents cover significant decisions that can have a very real impact on your life, including making any type of financial or legal choice on your behalf.
  3. Medical Power of Attorney: This works similarly to a durable power of attorney, except that it applies to medical and healthcare decisions. Most people use this document to ensure that their wishes are protected if they become incapacitated by old age, a health condition or even an accident. For example, many people don’t want advanced lifesaving measures in the event that they are gravely ill or terminal, or if they are in a vegetative state.
  4. A Trust: There are many different types of trusts and your estate planning attorney can help you create the one that’s right for you. Essentially, it’s a legal entity that will own whatever assets you place into it, but you have a high level of control over how these assets can be used and who can benefit from them. There are plenty of advantages to trusts – they are utilized during your lifetime as well as after you pass, you have a lot more control over how your assets are used, and they can bypass the probate process. This protects your assets from taxation and allows the trust to be used to support your loved ones immediately, rather than having to wait months until they are granted their inheritance.

Get All Your Questions Answered – Speak to a NJ Estate Planning Specialist

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your estate planning needs – whether you need to make a business succession plan, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, a Living trust or to minimize inheritance tax on your estate.

Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your needs are big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Single or Widowed? Here are Some Medicaid Planning Tips

Medicaid planning

Much of the Medicaid planning advice available focuses on protecting the assets of a spouse when their partner is in a nursing home or long-term care, but this isn’t particularly relevant to widow and widowers or seniors who are unmarried. Here’s some insight into how to plan for Medicaid benefits in these circumstances, from a leading elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Gifting strategies

Here, the assistance of an elder law attorney is important because any missteps in your gifting strategy, especially during the critical 5-year look-back period, could easily leave a senior ineligible for Medicaid assistance for a significant period of time.

Instead, you can invest in a different asset protection strategy that can help fund long-term care. For example, by purchasing an annuity, funds can be ensured to provide necessary care during the period where you are ineligible for Medicaid, preserving the much higher gift amount.

Exempt Transfers to Protect Assets

Unlike gifts, some transfers are exempt from consideration or penalties during the look-back period, so it’s important to take full advantage of these exceptions. This can include starting a trust to support a disabled loved one or to fund a family member’s education, or to transfer the home into the name of a family caregiver. Again, these transfers have to be done correctly in order to ensure the most benefit without incurring any penalties.

Some Assets are Purchase Exempt

Just like some transfers are exempt from the look-back period, some purchases are also excluded when considering Medicaid eligibility. These can be used as part of a spend-down strategy to better qualify for Medicaid care. Examples of this type of asset include burial plots, vehicles and even medical equipment.

Develop an Effective Medicaid Planning Strategy with Your Elder Law Attorney in NJ

Experienced in elder law, compassionate and committed to his clients, you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance you need from Frank R. Campisano. In addition to Medicaid assistance, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Proxy/Medical Directive, Power of Attorney documents and trusts. For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation, please contact us or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Important Financial Mistakes to Avoid – Tips for Every Age

Medicaid Application

Financial planning can feel like a minefield – it’s so complex that it’s easy to make a mistake that costs you. Here are some tips from your estate planning attorney in New Jersey to help you stay on the right path.

  • Not having an emergency fund or savings: Saving money isn’t easy, but it is essential if we want to build our wealth and reach those financial dreams that we all have. Instead of thinking about it as depriving ourselves of some of our earnings, look at it as paying yourself first. Having an emergency fund will help absorb the impact of financial expenses without knocking goals off-track.
  • Not having a budget: Very few people know exactly how much they’re earning and how much they’re spending, which means it’s easy to waste money or get into financial difficulty. Having a budget is key to staying out of debt or reducing debt and is a great way to sport opportunities where you can save for something special.
  • Not planning for retirement: When we’re young, it seems like retirement is a lifetime away. The trust is that the earlier retirement planning starts, the easier it will be when you get there. Starting your retirement plan when you’re young makes it less of a burden and more of a reward when you reach it and means that your Medicaid planning is more effective too.
  • Not having an estate plan: Estate plans aren’t just for the wealthy, they’re for everyone. If you have assets and responsibilities, or even causes close to your heart, then you need an estate plan. This should include a Last Will and Testament (to ensure your hard-earned assets go to the people you want to benefit), Medical Directive (to establish your medical treatment preferences), and Power of Attorney (to ensure your financial wellbeing is taken care of if something happens).

Keep Your Legacy Alive – Effective Strategies from Your Estate Planning Attorney in NJ 

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your estate planning needs – whether you need to make a business succession plan, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Medical Directive, a Living trust or to minimize inheritance tax on your estate.

Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your estate is big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

 

 

What are the Tax Implications for a Trust?

elder law trusts nj

One of the primary goals for estate planning is to minimize taxation on your estate, ensuring that your assets got towards caring for your family and not towards the state. One of the most effective tools used in estate planning is a trust. Here’s some insight into how family trusts are taxed, from an elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Grantor vs. Non-Grantor Trusts

Trusts fall into two categories that are especially relevant when talking about taxation. A grantor trust often allows the person creating the trust the right to withdraw assets from the trust – so, most revocable trusts are grantor trusts. This means that the trust does not have to file its own tax return. Instead, the grantor much include any income from the tax in their own, individual tax return and pay accordingly.

If a trust does not allow this (an irrevocable trust, for example), then it will have to file a tax return that can mean that the trust itself pays tax and that those beneficiaries earning an income from the trust will have to pay tax as well. This can become incredibly complex – for example, if they trust has to pay out it’s income to a beneficiary, then it is entitled to certain deductions, while remaining income that stays within the trust gets taxed to the trust directly.

Always Get Expert Advice When Creating a Trust 

If you’ve looked into creating a trust for your family, then you know that there are many different trusts out there to meet a vast range of goals. These trusts can also be tailored to your specific needs, which makes them even more complex. This makes it essential that you work with an experienced professional to develop a trust that achieves your goals and that you are completely aware of how taxation will impact this trust, so that you can make the best possible informed decision.

Speak to a Leading Elder Law Attorney in NJ Today for Compassionate Advice 

If you would like assistance in understanding and accessing your Medicaid and Medicare benefits, speak to Frank R. Campisano today. Experienced in elder law, compassionate and committed to his clients, you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance that will help you secure better care. In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney documents and trusts. For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation, please contact us or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Raising Awareness of Identity Fraud and Seniors

Identity theft is an unfortunate reality for all of us, but seniors are especially vulnerable to scams, con artists and fraudsters, putting their wellbeing and finances at serious risk. For caregivers, family and anyone who works with the elderly, it’s important to be aware of these issues and provide senior loved ones with advice and assistance to help keep their personal information safe.

Why are the Elderly More Vulnerable? 

There are two main reasons why seniors are targeted for identity fraud. They often have savings or investments, own their home and have good credit, making them a valuable target. They are also less likely to report fraud, often because they are unaware that they have been defrauded, or because they are simply embarrassed about the situation.

What Can You Do as a Caregiver or Family Member? 

Caregivers and family members can play a role in keeping senior loved ones safer from identity fraud. Here are some important red flags to be aware of:

  • If a stranger or acquaintance expresses interest in their financial history, social security information or other sensitive information.
  • If a caregiver, friend or family member expresses sudden interest in their financials or wants greater input into their spending, bank account access etc.
  • Sudden or inexplicable changes to their Last Will and Testament or other legal documents
  • Financial activity that is out of the ordinary, unlikely of the account holder or otherwise unexplained
  • Increases in withdrawals and purchases
  • Bills not being paid
  • Account statements no longer arriving at their address

It’s also important to remind senior loved ones not to share sensitive information (social security or financial) with anyone, especially unsolicited telephone callers, door-to-door salespeople or contractors. Any suspicious activity on bank and other accounts should be reported immediately.

Legal Advice for Seniors and Loved Ones from Your Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey 

Experienced in elder law, compassionate and committed to his clients, you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance you need from Frank R. Campisano. In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Proxy/Medical Directive, Power of Attorney documents and trusts. For more compassionate legal guidance and a free consultation, please contact us or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

What is a 529 Plan and Should it be Part of Your Estate Planning Strategy?

There are many savings options available that can be used as part of your estate plan, and a 529 plan is one of these options. Here are some insights from your estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

What is a 529 Plan?

This is a college savings plan that is exempt from federal taxes. Introduced in 1996, they are designed to help taxpayers to save more effectively for college expenses. Anyone over the age of 18 can open a 529 plan, whether it’s to save for your child or grandchild’s education, or for your own.

There are two types of 529 plan – a prepaid tuition plan and a college savings investment plan. The one plan is locked to current tuition costs, while the investment plan allows your savings to be invested in widely-held mutual funds to be managed by an investment firm, giving your money the best chance to grow and cover the optimal amount of college costs.

Federal and State Policies on 529 Plans

Each state has its own policies regarding these plans, but they are all subject to federal policies regardless of where you opened the plan or how your account is managed. This means that the account can only be held by one person and can only benefit one person (the beneficiary can be a different person to the account holder). There are no income restrictions on who can own or pay into a 529 plan, and they are not subject to gift taxation.

There are no federal income tax benefits for contributing to a 529 plan, but the benefit comes in the form of the growth of your investment, which is tax-deferred. You also won’t pay state or federal taxes on money that is withdrawn from the account to be used for qualified college expenses.

What if My Child Does Not Go to College or Require the Funds?

If your beneficiary is unable to go to college, chooses not to go or wins a full ride through a scholarship program, what happens to the money in a 529 plan? In these situations, you have a few options. Firstly, you can change the beneficiary of the plan to someone who does need it or hold onto the plan until you have a grandchild. Secondly, you can combine your plan with another plan once a year, giving another child greater coverage of their college expenses. Thirdly, you can use it for non-educational purposes. This last option does mean that you’ll have to pay income tax on the money the investment earned (not the full amount) along with a 10% penalty.

NJ Estate Planning Helps Put Education Savings First 

Frank R. Campisano is an experienced estate planning attorney with a long history of service and loyalty to his New Jersey clients. In addition to assisting you with creating, storing or updating your Last Will and Testament, he can assist you with 529 plans, college savings strategies, developing trusts, healthcare proxies, Power of Attorney documentation and much more.

For a free consultation, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Everything You Need to Know About Medicare Advantage Open Enrolment in 2019

Medicaid planning

Medicare Advantage open enrolment is running from January to March 2019, with the traditional open enrolment period running from mid-October to early December. Here’s a guide to what this means, from your elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Changing Your Coverage – Medicare Advantage Open Enrolment in 2019 

If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program, you are able to leave your current plan during this period. You can also move onto an alternative plan, like Original Medicare with a Part D prescription plan for medication, or onto a different Medicare Advantage plan – something that has not been allowed in previous years.

You are only allowed to switch once a year and it must happen within this period. If you signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan during the October-December enrolment period and it didn’t work for you, you can change during the January-March period. Once this change is made, however, you will have to stick with it until the next January-March period.

Important Things to do Before You Switch Medicare Plans 

If you are planning to change your Medicare plan, check to make sure that your preferred medical providers (doctor, local hospital, etc.) are part of the network for that plan in 2019. Also, confirm with them that any medications you are taking are also covered by the plan you want to take.

Be Aware of Fraud 

From April 2019, Medicare will be sending out new ID cards. This is a measure designed to protect beneficiaries from identity theft and fraud. You will receive this new card during the year and you’ll notice it does not have your social security number on it. Instead, it will have a unique but randomly generated ID number. You can use your old card until the new one arrives, and it is important to properly destroy the old card once the new one is in use. When destroying the cars, make sure that your social security number is made unreadable.

Need Help Applying for Medicaid or Qualifying for Coverage? Speak to Your Elder Law Attorney in New Jersey 

Frank R. Campisano is highly experienced and compassionate elder law attorney with considerable knowledge of Medicaid issues. In addition to planning ahead financially for Medicaid eligibility, he is also able to assist with applications, appeals and other Medicaid issues. If you or a family member needs assistance with their Medicaid planning or protecting their assets effectively, don’t hesitate to get help today.

In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney documents and trusts.

For a free consultation and Medicaid assistance or NJ estate planning, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano.

Incentive Trusts – Giving You Greater Control Over Your Estate

If you want to have the advantages of a trust but greater control over the assets within it, an incentive trust may be the right tool for your estate plan. Here is a quick guide to how these trusts work and the different benefits they offer, from an estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

What is an Incentive Trust? 

This is a legally binding trust where the trustee holds and manages the assets granted to the trust by the grantor. Unlike other trusts, the trustee must adhere to specific requirements and meet certain conditions that the grantor sets out in the formation of the trust in order to receive funds.

These trusts are therefore useful as a means of the grantor to provide funds for a specific purpose for a trustee. For example, a grandparent may want to leave an inheritance to a grandchild but not want them to become reliant on the funds for their living. The trust can then be set up to only provide funds when the grandchild has achieved a certain level of education.

Another good use of this type of trust is to ensure that your children or grandchildren are ready to handle their inheritance before they receive it. This can mean portioning it out at different stages of their life according to their age or life events (graduation, marriage, first child) and specifying different uses for it (buying a property, funding education or healthcare, or even funding their retirement).

Passing on Family Values and Responsibility, Not Ruling from the Grave 

Because an incentive trust gives the grantor very specific control over the distribution of the trust’s assets, it can be used to rule from the grave – which is understandable but not advisable. After all, it is difficult to know or understand the personal challenges and economic conditions facing the generations that come after us.

However, if done with careful thought and input from trusted advisors, these trusts can support your heirs rather than control them. By aligning your conditions with your values and allowing trustees to develop their own sense of financial responsibility, your heirs can be guided to their own success.

Develop an Estate Plan that Supports and Cares for Loved Ones with Your Estate planning attorney in New Jersey 

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your estate planning needs – whether you need to make a business succession plan, a personal estate plan, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, a Living trust or to minimize inheritance tax on your estate.

Let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your needs are big or small. For more information, contact us today.

Your IRA is a Powerful Estate Planning Tool

When we first think of estate planning tools, we tend to think of Wills, trusts and financial directives – but we forget about one very useful tool that’s often just sitting on the back-burner: your Individual Retirement Annuity (IRA).

As a retirement planning tool, IRAs are well-known for their benefits, including IRA assets being compounded on a tax-deferred or even tax-free basis (Roth IRAs). For those of us who are fortunate enough not to require their IRA to fund their retirement, however, it can be used to the benefit of your heirs by changing it into a so-called “stretch IRA”.

How Can I Change My IRA into a Stretch IRA? 

This is simply a matter of naming a beneficiary who will take many years before they qualify for the benefits – a much younger spouse, a child or even a grandchild. For minors, it’s best to speak to your estate planning attorney about developing a trust that allows this strategy, as it gives you more control over the use and distribution of the IRA funds). Your spouse is able to roll the funds over to their own IRA after they inherit, which enables the funds to keep growing (tax-deferred or tax-free) until they decide to utilize them. As a result of the compound growth on these accounts, the longer the benefits are deferred, the more substantial they will become. This could form a significant lump sum for your loved one, allowing them to:

  • Fund their eventual retirement
  • Take a lump sum distribution of the IRA’s balance
  • Withdraw the funds by the end of the year of the 5th anniversary of your death
  • Withdraw the funds over your “remaining” life expectancy as cucullated by the IRS
  • Or hold the funds in an inherited IRA to spread the required monthly distributions over their own life expectancy. (Often the choice that maximizes the benefits of this strategy).

Is this the Right Estate Planning Strategy for You? Speak to Your Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey 

At Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, estate planning attorney Frank Campisano is ready to assist you with all your estate planning needs – whether you need to make a business succession plan, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, a Living trust or to minimize inheritance tax on your estate.

Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your needs are big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Gifting Your Home to your Child – The Medicaid Implications

Medicaid planning

For many people, the cost of senior care is challenging or even impossible to manage without the assistance of Medicaid. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you need to keep the value of your assets below a certain limit, and one way that people choose to meet this requirement is by gifting assets, including their homes, away to children and loved ones. But what are the pros and cons of this strategy?

“Spend down” Strategies Help You Qualify for Medicaid 

A “spend down” strategy is where you actively reduce your assets to meet Medicaid requirements. It is an effective way to ensure that you qualify for Medicaid when the need arises – essentially, it means reducing your assets to the point where you qualify in a way that ensures you don’t incur penalties.

While gifting your assets is an effective way to spend down, it has to be done the right way or Medicaid will still penalize you or reject your application. The most significant obstacle to this strategy is the 5-year look-back period. If you have gifted away your home or other assets within the last 5 years, you face a transfer penalty where you are ineligible for Medicaid. Even the $14,000 per year tax-free federal gift allowance is included in this calculation and can affect eligibility.

You are only excluded from this look-back period under very special circumstances, including:

  • If your home has been transferred to your spouse.
  • If you have transferred it to your blind or disabled child under 21 years old.
  • If you have transferred it to a caretaker child – that is, your child who has lived with you for 2 or more years in order to care for you.
  • If you have transferred your home to your sibling who has an equity interest in the house and who has lived with you for 1 year or longer.
  • If you have transferred it into a special needs trust to care for a disabled person under 65 years old.

Speak to a Qualified Elder Law Attorney for a Sound Medicaid Planning Strategy 

Medicaid planning is a complex process and one where a reliable, clear strategy is followed step by step. With the right help, you or your loved one can get the care and financial assistance they need.

Frank R. Campisano is highly experienced and compassionate elder law attorney with considerable knowledge of Medicaid issues. In addition to planning ahead financially for Medicaid eligibility, he is also able to assist with applications, appeals and other Medicaid issues. If you or a family member needs assistance with their Medicaid planning or protecting their assets effectively, don’t hesitate to get help today.

In addition, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Proxy, Power of Attorney documents and trusts.

For a free consultation and Medicaid assistance, please contact us today and speak to Frank R. Campisano or visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

 

 

 

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