Estate Planning Tips for Couples with No Kids

Many couples are under the impression that if they don’t have any children, they don’t really need an estate plan. However, the reality is that everyone should have an estate plan – if you’re a legal adult and you own assets, no matter their value, an estate plan is vital. Here is some advice for drawing one up in this situation, from a leading estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

Won’t Everything Just Go to My Spouse Automatically?

Firstly, it’s important to address the main reason why couples with no kids don’t have estate plans – because the law says that, in the event of a spouse’s death, their assets go to the surviving spouse. It sounds simple, but the process is more complex – especially as telling someone what you want to happen isn’t legally binding. Your assets will still have to go through probate, which can take up to a year before your spouse can access them. This could leave them in a dire financial position, as it affects shared assets too. The process can be challenged by others who feel they have the right to inherit, which can delay the process even longer and mean that your assets go to people you wouldn’t want to inherit. It’s simpler, easier and better protection for your spouse if you have an estate plan. Here’s what to consider:

  • Medical and financial decisions: Estate plans are not just about death; they’re about protecting you in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. Healthcare directives and financial Power of Attorney documents will map out your financial and medical care decisions in detail. This prevents stress on your spouse and family who may be unsure of what you would want under these circumstances and prevent challenges to your care and finances.
  • Inheritance: Most couples want their spouse to inherit in the event of their death, but there are often additional considerations. What would you want to happen if both of you passed on? What if your spouse passed on years later or remarried and you want family heirlooms to go to back to your family rather than passing to theirs? What if you’d like to provide for a family member as well? Or if you’d like to make a gift to a charitable organization close to your heart?

Comprehensive Estate Planning Assistance for Every Situation

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.

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/

What is an Elder Law Attorney? Do I Need One?

Elder Law

Here is some important insight into this law specialization from an elder law attorney in New Jersey.

Firstly, an elder law attorney works to protect the rights of seniors and their families in areas such as age-related health concerns, wills and trusts, long-term care, elder abuse, and Medicaid planning or disputes. Most of the time, this work is about drawing up legal protection for seniors and their assets rather than working in court. The majority of work in this field includes:

  • Helping seniors draw up or manage their Last Will and Testament, healthcare proxy, Power of Attorney documents, working on inheritance tax issues or drawing up trusts.
  • Assisting family members with legal documentation for guardianship to help them care for, provide for and protect senior loved ones with dementia or other conditions that mean that they are unable to care for themselves.
  • Helping seniors plan for their long-term care needs and developing a strategy to ensure Medicaid qualification, to apply for Medicaid or to challenge a Medicaid dispute. Elder law attorneys are a good source of information when dealing with complex Medicaid issues, such as when one spouse has to move into long-term care while the other is independent.
  • Assisting senior veterans with accessing the benefits due to them, challenging disputes and developing a strategy to ensure quality long-term care.
  • Providing estate planning advice and support, including gift tax matters.
  • Providing legal advice and advocacy in the event of senior fraud or elder abuse, whether by a family member, caregiver, nursing home, or other person.

If you’d like any advice or legal support regarding any of these issues or any other legal issues that affect seniors, it’s advisable to speak to an elder law attorney.

Get Legal Advice and Support 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/

Reverse Mortgages – Are They a Good Choice for Seniors?

Elder Law

If you’re considering a reverse mortgage (also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) as a means to supplement your retirement plan, it’s important to know the pros and cons. Here are some insights from your elder law attorney in New Jersey.

The Pros

  • You don’t have to make any payments on these loans until you die or move.
  • Your credit record is not a big concern, as the key factors are the value of the home, the loan amount and your age as the borrower.
  • If the value of the property drops, your heirs won’t owe more than the value of the home when it is sold. If the value goes up, your heirs may inherit some money from the sale of the home after the debt is paid.
  • You can shop around as there are many different reverse mortgage products on the market, so you can get good rates with a bit of research and guidance.
  • It’s a good source of tax-free income if your money is tied up in your property and you don’t have a lot of cash flow from retirement funds or investments.

The Cons

  • Unlike a traditional mortgage, the amount you borrow will increase over time.
  • Your heirs will not inherit your property, but will inherit the debt of the loan, which would be paid off by selling the house. This will considerably reduce their inheritance.
  • There is no annual tax deduction of the interest.
  • You cannot leave your home for one year. If you leave after a year, the loan must be paid in full.
  • You have to be 62 years old or older.
  • The interest is still fairly high, and if you have good credit, good cash flow from other investments or other assets outside your home, there are better options like home equity loans or a second mortgage.

Make an Informed Choice and Protect Your Assets – Speak to Your Elder Law Attorney in NJ

If you would like to help your loved one get the legal assistance they need to protect their assets and wellbeing, speak to elder law attorney Frank R. Campisano today. Experienced in elder law and estate planning, he is compassionate and committed to his clients, ensuring that you’ll receive the highest quality legal expertise and guidance. In addition to sound elder law advice on preventing elder abuse, Medicaid assistance and Medicaid planning, you can also prepare additional estate planning documents, such as a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney documents, medical directives and trusts. For a free consultation, please contact us today or visit the website at http://www.scclegal.com/

Estate Planning – More Than Minimizing Tax Exposure

While it’s true that a lot of the focus of estate planning is one the considerable benefits it has on reducing the taxation on your estate and assets, this isn’t the sole point of having an estate plan. Tax planning is just one part of estate planning, it’s about having answers to important questions and having control of your assets in the event of your death. Here are some insights into why this is so important, from your estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

Asked Yourself These Questions? You Need Estate Planning in NJ

It’s normal to ask yourself questions about the future relating to yourself and your loved ones, including:

  • What do I really own?
  • How can I make the most of the assets I own?
  • Who will get these assets if/when I die?
  • What happens if I get disabled?
  • How will I pay for my and/or my spouses’ retirement needs or long-term care as a senior?
  • How can I take the best possible care of my loved ones even if I die?

These are really the fundamental concerns that most of us have – and estate planning will give you these answers. It’s not about how much you own or whether or not you have kids – it’s about peace of mind for yourself. Estate planning even looks at who you’d like to have control of your health and financial decisions if something happens and you can’t do it for yourself, whether it’s due to a traumatic accident, illness or old age – so your wellbeing is a priority too.

The tax measures that come into play are simply there to ensure that you get the most tax breaks that you are qualified for – and that the highest percentage of your assets goes to your loved ones to care for them in the event of your death.

Estate Planning is for Everyone – Start Tay and Meet 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, 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 business is big or small. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.scclegal.com/

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/

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