What You Need to Know About Estate Planning After a Divorce

In the event of a divorce, it’s essential that you update your estate plan. When 2018 ended in a rush of divorces before the tax law changes that took place on 1st January, there are many divorced people who haven’t yet had the time to change their estate plan – or realized the importance of doing so. Here are some insights from your estate planning attorney in New Jersey.

  • Inform your estate planning attorney: Send a copy of your divorce agreement to your estate planning attorney for them to view. They need to know what obligations you have towards your former spouse as well as changes regarding any children and dependents.
  • Your Power of Attorney: If these documents name your former spouse as the person who will make financial decisions on your behalf if needed, then this clearly needs to be changed. A new Power of Attorney is best, naming a trusted advisor, relative or friend to take over this critical role.
  • Your Healthcare Proxy: Similarly, you may have to name a new healthcare proxy to make medical or healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. This is not a document that is only required for seniors – a car accident, workplace accident or health emergency can happen to anyone at any time of their lives, so it’s very important that someone other than your ex-spouse is trusted to make these decisions.
  • Revise your Last Will and Testament: A new Last Will and Testament will need to be drawn up to remove provisions for your ex-spouse or to remove them as an executor of the will or any trustee positions. This will ensure that they are unable to access any of your assets or trust in the event of your death.
  • Think of creating a trust for your minor children: If you pass away, the assets and money you leave to your children will be left under the control of their guardian until they reach the age of 18. While many people are comfortable naming their ex-spouse as legal guardian for their minor children, they are less comfortable with letting their children’s inheritance also fall under their ex-spouse’s control. A trust is a practical way of alleviating this issue, allowing you to appoint someone of your choosing to act as trustee and guardian for their inheritance. It also allows you to set out provisions for how this inheritance can be spent, for example, if you want it to fund your children’s education or if you want it to be portioned out over several years.

Get Peace of Mind from Your Estate Planning Attorney in NJ

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/

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/

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/

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 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/

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/

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating and Managing a Trust

elder law trusts nj

A trust can be a highly functional and useful estate planning tool, helping you provide for dependents more effectively, avoid probate and even reduce taxation on your estate. However, according to your estate planning attorney in New Jersey, a trust is only effective when it is set up and managed properly – and this means avoiding these common mistakes.

  1. Not funding your trust: In order to deliver the above benefits, you have to fund the trust by moving assets into it. Without assets, there will be nothing to deliver to the beneficiaries. All assets outside the trust will be subject to standard legal, probate and taxation procedures.
  2. Not having clear instructions: Trusts are fairly complex legal structures and clear instructions are necessary to ensure that it functions in line with your wishes. You need to create instructions around the function of the trust, who you would like to benefit from the trust, how you would like your assets to be divided, and so forth.
  3. Setting up the wrong type of trust: There are quite a few different types of trusts available when you’re creating your estate plan, and each type suits a different goal. For example, one type of trust has different tax implications to another, some can be changed while others cannot be modified at all, and some are better for providing funds to special needs children than others. It’s vital that you work with your estate planning attorney to evaluate different trust options and commit to one that will actually achieve your goals.
  4. Choosing the wrong trustee: Choosing a trustee is an incredibly important choice that deserves serious thought, as appointing the wrong person into this position could destroy your trust. Not only could this lead to abuse of your trust and legal problems, it could destroy relationships as well.
  5. Failing to update your trust: Like any estate planning document, your trust shouldn’t be ignored for your lifetime after you’ve set it up. As your circumstances change and evolve, your trust should be reviewed and adjusted to ensure that it still aligns with your wishes. Significant life events like marriage, divorce, and children are all going times to review your trust, Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents.

Create or Review Your Trust Today – Speak to 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, 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/

When Should I Revise My Will?

Estate Planning Documents

We’re all aware that having a Last Will and Testament is a good idea – after all, it protects assets from taxation and ensures our dependents are properly cared for. But when should your existing Will be revised?

Update Your Last Will and Testament When These Major Life Changes Happen

There are certain life events that have a significant impact on your financial wellbeing or responsibilities, and the changes they bring mean it’s time to update or re-write your Will. Here are a few:

  • Getting married.
  • Getting divorced – ex-spouses are entitled to any inheritance named in your most recent, legal Will.
  • Developing health complications – you or your spouse or your child.
  • Caring for a special needs child.
  • Having children, blending your family or having grandchildren – including providing financial care for a child, inheritance, and naming legal guardians.
  • Moving into another state or country, as you’ll have to comply with different estate and probate laws.
  • Receiving an inheritance.
  • Getting involved with charitable organizations.
  • Significant changes in law (especially regarding estate taxation, etc.).

Other Legal Documents to Update Simultaneously

To ensure that your estate is fully in line with your new Will, your Living Will should also be created or updated. This is a legal document that outlines your desires regarding future medical treatment and care in the event that you are unable to express informed consent, including an advanced directive to ensure that your wishes regarding advanced life-saving care are respected.

Similarly, you should take this opportunity to also create or update your durable Power of Attorney. This is another essential tool that ensures that certain decisions, including financial decisions, are made in line with your wishes in the event that you are incapacitated

Speak to Your Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey today

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 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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