How To Protect Your Inheritance From Your Spouse

When you inherit assets like property, money, or jewelry either before or after you get married, it’s important that you protect your inheritance in the event that things with your spouse don’t work out. While it’s not a pleasant scenario to imagine, unexpected issues arise in relationships every day. And unfortunately, some marital issues cannot be worked through. That being said, it’s important to ensure your assets are protected no matter what. 

The Risks Of Commingling Assets

When you commingle inherited assets, it means you legally declare that the assets belong to both you and your spouse, even if only one of you originally inherited them. This is risky because the assets then legally become joint property, meaning your spouse can claim partial ownership of them if you two were to split up. While we understand wanting to share everything with your spouse, commingling assets can prove more risky than it’s worth. 

Save Documents That Prove The Inheritance Was Meant For You

If someone in your life has gifted you money, property, cars, or other assets as your inheritance, it’s important you keep the documentation that stipulates these assets are meant for you, and you alone. Many estate plans include explicit instructions about inheritances – so if you have it, keep it in a safe place. 

If Divorced, Your State May Ignore Mentions Of A Spouse

Once your divorce is legalized by the court, some states don’t recognize mentions of a spouse since that person is no longer legally your spouse. While inheritances are usually left to a single person, sometimes an asset like a house is designated as an inheritance to a married couple. In this case, please seek advice from a divorce attorney. 

Postnuptial Agreements

Similar to prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements exist to protect you and your inheritance after you get married, in case you get divorced. Postnups have a certain set of criteria that must be met in order to be considered legal, otherwise they’ll be rejected as a legal document during court proceedings. 

Keeping Your Assets In A Trust

Many people place their assets in a trust with themselves or their children, and you can choose a revocable or an irrevocable trust. The type of trust that’s right for you will depend on your assets and how complicated your estate is, so please consult with an estate planning attorney who can advise accordingly. 

For more information about how to protect your inheritance from your spouse, or if you have any questions about your estate, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/

 

The Role Of The ‘Executor’ In A Will Probate In NJ

If someone has been named as an executor of a will in New Jersey, and a will probate takes place, the executor is legally required to be present for the probate process. An executor is someone who identifies and collects all the assets named in the deceased person’s will. They also ensure each asset is distributed as the deceased person intended. The executor will be involved in all stages, including tracking down the will, making funeral arrangements, identifying any beneficiaries, and acting as a legal representative of the estate in court. In this article, we will take a more detailed look at each step. 

Tracking The Will Down 

When someone passes away, the person they’ve chosen to be their executor must locate the will and all other relevant paperwork to ensure they have the most recent version of the will in their possession. If the executor can only track down a copy of the will, they must check with the deceased’s attorney to verify the copy and ensure it’s accurate and legally valid. 

Funeral Arrangements

Surviving families are usually the ones who make funeral arrangements, but if the deceased has specific instructions regarding their funeral, it’s the executor’s responsibility to ensure their instructions are carried out according to their wishes. An executor also usually oversees costs associated with the funeral, to be sure they are reasonable. 

Identifying Beneficiaries 

Beneficiaries are the people who receive assets named in the will, in accordance with the deceased’s instructions. The executor must locate all beneficiaries, provide them with a copy of the will, along with a notice stating that they will be acting as executor. 

Legal Representative Of The Estate In Court

If for any reason the will is contested, or if the authenticity of the will is brought into question, the executor will act as the legal representative of the estate in court. Executors often don’t have a legal background or legal experience, which is why we recommend speaking with an estate planning attorney if you find yourself in this particular situation. Acting as an executor is a big responsibility, and it’s important that the deceased’s wishes are carried out accurately and respectfully.

For more information about the role of the executor in a will probate in New Jersey, or if you have any estate planning questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today. You could also visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com/

 

How To Review A Commercial Lease Agreement

How To Review A Commercial Lease Agreement

Are you getting ready to sign a commercial lease agreement? Have you hired a lawyer to review it with you? Signing a commercial lease is a big deal, and there are important aspects you need to be aware of and certain terminology to look out for. Our team at SCC Legal will explain some of the most important parts of a commercial lease below, as well as how you can avoid entering a bad agreement.  

The Rent Due

A commercial lease will state clearly how much the rent is in US dollar amount, on which days it’s due, and how the tenant must pay it. A common time frame for a commercial lease is three to five years, after which the landlord will probably want to negotiate a small rent increase in line with the market. If you’re the tenant, ensure you’re clear on how much you must pay, the exact dates you must pay, and how you pay. 

Clauses To Look Out For

  • Service charges clause: This clause is separate from the rent, and usually covers the costs of any upkeep and maintenance that the property owner must do on a regular basis. 
  • Indemnity clause: This clause protects you from being held liable for any negligence or willful misconduct by the landlord. 
  • Insurance clause: The landlord usually has their building insured, but additional insurance clauses stipulate which party is responsible for other items and areas on the property. 

Is There A Break Clause?

A break clause means that the lease can be terminated earlier than stated in the contract, on a date that both parties agree to. For example, with a one-year lease agreement, there will typically be a six-month break clause where the tenant can end the lease early if they wish to do so. 

What Are The Tenants’ Obligations?

As a tenant, you must be fully aware of your obligations while you occupy the property. Typical tenant obligations include keeping the property clean and in good working order, reporting any damage or maintenance problems to the landlord, and maintaining the lawn or garden area on the property. 

To ensure you don’t enter a bad commercial lease agreement, it’s best to consult an attorney with plenty of experience in this sector. They will know exactly how to amend each clause to make certain that your best interests are legally protected. For legal guidance with your commercial lease agreement in New Jersey, or if you have any questions about the terms and conditions of your lease, contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/

 

 

Can Someone Be Disinherited From Your Will?

Can Someone Be Disinherited From Your Will

If you want to disinherit someone from your will, you probably have several questions, like who can be disinherited? What are the common reasons for disinheriting someone, and how can you ensure it’s legally enforceable? 

Disinheriting someone from your will is a personal decision that only you can make, and if you want to change your Last Will & Testament to exclude someone, we recommend speaking with your estate planning attorney as soon as possible. 

Who Can Be Disinherited? 

Any person who is named in your will, legally referred to as a beneficiary, can be disinherited. This includes adult children, spouses, relatives, friends, and anyone else who has been named. Simply put, if you’ve listed a particular beneficiary in your will and you want them removed, it is legally possible to remove them. 

Common Reasons For Disinheritance

  • Divorce: If you get divorced and your now ex-spouse is named as a beneficiary, you may want to change this.
  • Estrangement: When you’ve grown estranged from one or more of your beneficiaries over the years, you can legally remove them from your will if you wish. 
  • Previous support already given: If you’ve already given a substantial amount of money to a beneficiary, or you’ve already gifted them sizable assets, you might want to disinherit them. 
  • Conflicts of interest: Some agreements simply can’t be solved and can put a tremendous strain on the relationships between the people involved. 
  • Medical/health status: If one of your beneficiaries has a change in their health status and you feel they will require more financial support than your other beneficiaries, you can arrange this via disinheriting one or more of your beneficiaries. 

How To Disinherit Someone From Your Will

If you’ve made the decision to disinherit someone from your will, contact your estate planning attorney to update your Last Will & Testament. An experienced attorney will ensure your current wishes are reflected and legally enforceable, making any contestations less likely to succeed. 

To speak with an estate planning attorney about disinheriting someone from your will, or if you have any questions about writing a will, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com/

 

 

What You Need To Know About Non-Disclosure Agreements

What You Need To Know About Non-Disclosure Agreements

A non-disclosure agreement, commonly referred to as an NDA, is a legal contract between a person who has sensitive information and a person or people who might gain access to that information. An NDA creates a confidential relationship between these two parties with the intent of protecting the sensitive information at hand. NDAs are legally enforceable contracts that everyone should be familiar with, should you ever agree to enter one. In this article, our team of attorneys in Fairfield, NJ will go over the NDA basics. 

What Do Non-Disclosure Agreements Protect?

Sensitive information:  NDAs make clear which information is considered protected, and which information is not protected. Both parties are under legal obligation not to share this information, or else they’ll be in breach of the contract. 

Patent rights: Pending inventions often need to be kept secret until they’re complete, so NDAs are often used to protect inventors while they’re developing new products.

What Are The Components Of Non-Disclosure Agreements?

  1. Identify the parties named in the NDA
  2. Define the sensitive information that must be kept confidential
  3. Explicitly state the obligations of each party 
  4. Clearly define the scope of the NDA
  5. Select a time frame under which the NDA is enforceable 
  6. Confirm if the sensitive information must be returned or destroyed
  7. Identify any exclusions
  8. Agree on what happens if the NDA is broken

Types Of Non-Disclosure Agreements

Unilateral non-disclosure agreements: One party agrees not to share sensitive information that both parties are aware of. 

Lateral non-disclosure agreements: Both parties have sensitive information, and they both agree not to share it. 

Benefits Of Non-Disclosure Agreements

NDAs give parties confidence to share sensitive information with other parties, without the risk of them leaking this information. Many businesses who work in highly competitive fields have their employees sign NDAs in order to protect important business information. If you’re a business owner and you’re worried about your staff sharing confidential information with outside parties, a non-disclosure agreement can protect you and your business. An NDA also makes clear what information is able to be shared, and what information must remain confidential. Information that is commercially or personally sensitive is enforceable by creating an NDA, so you have the peace of mind that you’re protected. 

If you’d like to learn more about non-disclosure agreements, or if you have any other legal questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today and visit our website at: https://www.scclegal.com/

 

Reasonable Grounds To Challenge A Will

Challenge a will

Have you found yourself in a situation where you believe it’s necessary to challenge a loved one’s will? While we think of wills as iron clad, there are circumstances in which a person’s will can be challenged. An experienced estate planning attorney can talk you through the options and help you navigate what can be a difficult process. Here are several situations in which it would be reasonable to challenge a will

The Person Who Passed Wasn’t In The Required Mental Capacity

When a person signs their will, they must be of sound mind, memory, and understanding at the time of signing. This means they must:

  • Understand that they’re signing a will 
  • Be aware of the contents of their will
  • Comprehend the value of their assets
  • Fully grasp the consequences of excluding people from their will, for example one of their children
  • Not have any “disorders of the mind” when going through this process 

Undue Influence

Undue influence, also called coercion, means that the person created and signed their will while being pressured or coerced by someone else. Therefore, the person’s will may not reflect their true intentions, and if that’s the case it can be challenged. For wealthy individuals who have complicated business or family affairs, undue influence may come from one or more of the beneficiaries. 

The Will is Fraudulent

While fraudulent wills are rare, they can happen. Examples of fraud include one beneficiary lying about another beneficiary in order for them to receive less money, or someone impersonating the deceased in order to execute a will. 

Mistakes Were Made In The Will

If you believe there’s a mistake in your loved one’s will, it may either be a clerical error or it may be a failure of the Testator to understand the will’s instructions. Your attorney can help you file a rectification, which must be done within a certain window of time. 

The Person’s True Intentions Have Not Been Executed Correctly

The individual who executes a will is the Testator, and they’re selected by the person who drafted the will. It’s very important that the Testator follows the deceased’s instructions exactly, and if there is any disagreement or ambiguity around the way the will has been executed, it may be possible to challenge it. 

If you’d like more information about challenging a will, or if you have any estate planning questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today or visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/

A Living Will Speaks for You When You Cannot

A Living Will Speaks for You When You Cannot

You might have heard of a Living Will, but do you know what it’s for and why it’s important that you have one? It’s common to assume that you don’t need to think about estate planning or creating a will until you’re much older, but the truth is that tomorrow isn’t promised for anyone. If you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself either due to injury or illness, a Living Will is essential. In this article, we will go over the most frequently asked questions we receive at our law firm in Fairfield NJ

What Is a Living Will?

A Living Will, sometimes called an Advance Directive, is a legal document that details what kind of medical treatment you do or do not want in a variety of specific medical scenarios. For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, become unconscious and need a life-saving treatment like a breathing tube, your Living Will instructs your medical team on whether or not you want a breathing tube to be put in.

When you create a Living Will, you and your estate planning attorney will review a variety of potential medical scenarios and you will declare what action to take or who has the jurisdiction over you to make those vital decisions. Health care decisions and medical treatment are highly personal things, and you have the right to decide what care you do or do not want, even when you’re incapacitated. 

Why Have a Living Will?

Living Wills are invoked when a person is facing a life-threatening condition and is unable to communicate their wishes for their medical care. Unfortunately there’s no way to know if you’ll be involved in a life-threatening accident, or if you’ll contract a terminal illness. It’s best to be prepared for every possible outcome, and a Living Will allows you to do exactly that. 

FAQs About Living Wills

Q: Do doctors consult Living Wills for routine medical care?

A: No. Living Wills are only used when the person is facing a life-threatening condition.

Q: I’m in my 20s. Am I too young to have a Living Will?

A: No, people of all ages should have a Living Will. Especially, if they have valuable assets that they’d like to pass onto loved ones. 

Q: How can I create a Living Will?

A: Contact a trusted estate planning attorney who can help you create this important document and add it to your wider estate plan. 

For more information about creating a Living Will, or if you have any questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal or visit us at: https://www.scclegal.com/

The Future of Forced Arbitration – What Employees and Employers Need to Know

What Employment Law Says About Forced Arbitration

You may have seen the news that in March of this year, President Biden signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021, referred to as the EFAA. With the passage of the EFAA, employers are now prohibited from resolving sexual harassment and sexual assault claims with pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements, also known as forced arbitration. 

What is Forced Arbitration?

Forced arbitration, sometimes referred to as mandatory arbitration, prohibits an employee from suing their employer if they’re sexually harassed or sexually assaulted at work. If an employee does decide to go forward with a lawsuit, forced arbitration means there will not be a public hearing – instead, the employer hires a private arbitrator to agree on a resolution. Forced arbitration clauses are found in the fine print of many employment contracts

Recent Legislative Changes

As mentioned above, President Biden recently signed into law the EFAA, which brings about these key legislative changes:

  • For cases related to sexual assault or sexual harassment, employers may not enforce pre-dispute arbitration agreements.
  • Employees, however, can voluntarily choose arbitration as a resolution to their sexual harassment or sexual assault claim. 
  • Employers are also prohibited from using collective, class, or joint action waivers in an attempt to prohibit employees from participating in class or collective actions. 

Key Takeaways for Employees

As an employee, if you want to bring a sexual harassment or sexual assault case against you’re employer, under the EFAA you are entitled to a public hearing if that’s the route you want to take. Your employer cannot force you to go directly into arbitration. If you experience sexual harassment or sexual assault while at work, please contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible. 

Key Takeaways for Employers

As an employer, please consult with your labor and employment counsel as soon as possible, and consider that you may need to do the following:

  • Modify existing forced arbitration agreements that are in place with employees.
  • Hold sexual harassment trainings for your staff, as well as retaliation prevention trainings.
  • Ask your counsel to keep you informed of the latest provisions related to the EFAA. 

For more information about what the changes in employment law brought about by the EFAA mean for you, or if you have any other legal questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today at: https://www.scclegal.com/

Asset Protection Trusts: What Are My Options

Asset Protection Trusts_ What Are My Options-min

You may have heard about an Asset Protection Trust (APT), but you aren’t sure what it is or when it’s the best choice. An APT is a special type of trust that is used to protect your estate from any creditors, lawsuits, or judgments against your estate. For example, it’s common for people to name their children as beneficiaries in their trust, but if one of your children has a worrying amount of credit card debt, and you’re concerned that once they inherit your estate that creditors might come after it, you can create an APT to protect your assets. 

Common Asset Protection Trusts 

Domestic APT: Only available in a select number of US states, a Domestic APT is straightforward to set up with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Your assets will be held in a trust that resides within the US legal system. 

Foreign APT: Also known as an Offshore Trust, a Foreign APT is more complex to set up, but generally thought to be more secure and provides greater privacy protection. 

How Can I Move My Assets to an APT 

The majority of people who set up APTs are financially comfortable and have a range of assets, including properties, cash, securities, cars, jewelry, businesses, boats, and aircrafts. Moving your assets to an APT requires a highly-skilled team of people including insurance brokers, financial planners, estate planning attorneys, and more. If you’re considering moving some or all of your assets into an APT, you need an experienced legal team to handle the process. 

SCC Legal Can Help 

At SCC Legal we can offer advice and guidance on whether or not an APT is the right choice for you. It’s important to note that APTs are irrevocable, so it is not a decision to take lightly, and it’s one that requires careful planning and execution. 

For more information about Asset Protection Trusts, or if you have any questions about how they can benefit you and your family, please contact our team at SCC Legal today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you.

What are Medicaid Trusts and How Can They Help?

What are Medicaid Trusts and How Can They Help_

Medicaid Trusts, also referred to as Irrevocable “Income Only” Trusts, are a special type of trust used to protect personal assets and allow seniors to qualify for long-term care via Medicaid. These trusts cannot be set up quickly, so careful planning and consideration is needed. For example, if you need home care Medicaid, your Medicaid Trust must be set up 2.5 years ahead of the time when your care begins, and five years before any assisted living care is needed. We recommend consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney if you’re interested in setting up a Medicaid Trust. 

What is a Medicaid Trust?

If you have significant assets and don’t want them to impact your Medicaid eligibility, you can set up a Medicaid Trust. Any of your assets placed in this trust are considered completed gifts to the beneficiaries you choose, and the trust can only be revoked under certain circumstances. Each state has its own regulations around revoking a Medicaid Trust, so speak with an estate planning attorney in your state to get the details. 

Older adults commonly use Medicaid Trusts for assets like property, cars, stock portfolios, jewelry, and other high-value assets so that these assets don’t impact their ability to qualify for home care or assisted living care via Medicaid. Most people name their child or children as beneficiaries and leave the assets sitting in the trust untouched for many years. 

How can they benefit you, and how can you get one?

Home health care, assisted living facilities, and other types of care that people commonly need as they grow old can be very expensive. And even if you’re financially comfortable, there’s no way to predict what your healthcare expenses will be as you age. If you get diagnosed with an illness or have an accident, the costs of treatment, hospitalization, and rehabilitation can easily skyrocket into the tens of thousands. Setting up a Medicaid Trust is one way to help cover future healthcare-related expenses, and an experienced estate planning attorney can discuss your eligibility and options with you. 

For more information about Medicaid Trusts, or if you have any questions about how they can benefit you and your family, please contact our team at SCC Legal today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you.

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