New baby on the way? Here’s how to modify your Estate Plan for junior.

If you have a baby on the way, probably the last thing on your mind is, “Oh my gosh!  I need to revise my estate plan!”.

But if you have significant assets and especially if you have multiple children, creating a clear path for getting your assets passed on is not something you want to wait to do.  Modifying your estate plan may be the last thing on your mind as you prepare for the new addition to your family, but as you look into the eyes of your beautiful baby, don’t forget that caring for and protecting your children, is a job that starts now, and never ends.

Estate planning for New Jersey, is similar to most other states in that a few things can happen if your new baby isn’t part of your plan when you pass.

  1. A long, protracted probate process where the state tries to determine the rights of the minor child in the absence of compelling documentation.  This process will eat up your inheritance in terms of legal fees, court costs, and can take months and years to settle.
  2. Potential acrimony between your descendants.  By “forgetting” to include a child in your estate plan, you create the breeding ground for ugly fights over money and assets.
  3. Care of the minor child upon your untimely demise may not be clear and may cause them to become a ward of the state, at least temporarily.

What Parts of my estate plan should be updated for Junior?

Having a baby affects not only your estate plan but many other potential aspects of your personal and professional life.  Here are just a few basics

(1) know your breastfeeding rights (for jury duty and employment)
(2) put a will or trust in place with a guardianship clause
(3) put a guardianship agreement in place
(4)  put an Advance Health Care Directive in place
(5) store your Baby’s Records in a safe place (birth certificate, social security card, and immunization records)
(6) set up your bank account to pay on death to your child’s guardian
(7) check that your Life insurance policy beneficiary is child’s guardian
(8) know your FMLA rights (Federal Medical Leave Act)

Done properly this documentation appoints a guardian to care for your minor children and details the complete distribution of your assets in the event anything should happen to you.

Can I do this estate planning myself?

Whether you already have some estate documents or need new advice and counsel on your plan, a good elder law attorney can help you insure your affairs are in order.

Note that Frank Campisano in addition to being an experienced elder law attorney, also has an extensive background in NJ employment law. Issues around estate planning and FMLA are no stranger to Frank and the team at SCC Legal.

Whether you would like to discuss some ideas for estate planning for your new baby, or how having to care for minor children affects your rights as an employee or employer, Frank Campisano is uniquely qualified to help you.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us today or visit our website at   Discover why so many people rely on us for estate planning in New Jersey.

We look forward to hearing from you!

NJ Inheritance and Estate Tax – The Double Whammy

All things considered, there are better places to die than New Jersey.

Currently NJ is one of the few lucky states where the assets of the deceased are subject to both an inheritance tax and an estate tax, in addition to federal estate tax obligations that might apply.  What’s more the threshold for estate tax exemption in New Jersey is only $675,000.00, a threshold many families and individuals will exceed, while the federal exemption is a whopping $5.34 million dollars affecting mostly the estates of the rich. While Maryland and New York  have both opted to substantially raise their Estate Tax Exemption, there has been no attempt thus far to bring NJ state tax exemptions in line with federal amounts.

However, at the beginning of June NJ state senator Raymond Lesniak  announced he plans to introduce legislation to repeal New Jersey’s estate tax and reinstate the so called “millionaires tax”, a non-death related tax on household incomes over $350,000.

One of the main reasons why this is being discussed is to close the $2.7-billion state budget shortfall through June 2015. It is estimated this proposal will bring in $850-million each year, which is required to close the fiscal year’s budget gap.

At least one independent study has indicated that the combination of estate tax, high property taxes and a previous millionaire’s tax drove wealthy residents from the state. Whilst many would like to repeal or raise the exemption for the estate tax, without offsetting revenue it would be politically difficult to move forward.  Despite this Senator Lesniak still plans to move the bill forward.  “I’m hoping that this estate tax repeal would present an opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans to get something that they want and help us solve the budget crisis.”

Despite its good intentions, it is likely the entire repeal exercise is a non-starter as Governor Chris Christie has promised to veto any attempt to reinstate the millionaire’s tax. Without this, a repeal or raising of the estate tax is unlikely as it would not have any offsetting revenue component and would drive the state further into a budget deficit.

So for the foreseeable future, NJ residents are stuck with both the inheritance and estate tax with its extremely low threshold.  If you are concerned about your obligations under  these taxes in New Jersey,  Frank Campisano can help you design a strategy that gets more of your estate into the hands of your heirs and less into the hands of the government.

To speak to a skilled NJ estate tax planning professional call Frank Campisano and the team at SCC Legal now. We are here to give you the updated, clear-cut estate planning advice you need.

Estate planning – Do I really need to Bother?

There’s a common misconception that estate planning is only for wealthy people, but each and every person that wants to leave the greatest amount of wealth possible to their children or loved ones should consider an estate plan and consider it now, not when you are at death’s door. An estate plan can be complicated but with careful and advanced planning with a good estate planning attorney you can insure that your heirs receive as much of your wealth as possible and in the manner that you want.

How Soon Should I Begin My Estate Planning?

Planning for your death isn’t always the easiest thing to do, But the fact is it is never too early to put your plan in place, particularly if you have young children or other dependents that would need care in the event of your untimely demise. The goal of an estate plan is simple enough: it is to ensure that your assets are passed on to who you want, when you want it and the way you want after you die.  Your finances are very important and without careful estate planning years in advance, you may find yourself handing much more over to the government than is necessary. A good estate plan can solve both common and uncommon problems in the transfer of assets and in the planning for your care in your old age.

  • How to qualify for Medicaid financial help with assisted living or in-home care.
  • How to minimize State and Federal Estate and Inheritance Taxes?
  • What is a trust and how can it help me protect my assets from taxes?
  • How are things like stock and real estate passed to heirs?
  • How can I help prevent disputes between my heirs?
  • How can I prevent my estate from getting stuck in probate court?
  • Can I continue to support a Charity after my death?
  • How do I pass ownership of my business after my death?
  • Much much more.

There is no question that the larger and more complex your assets, the more you need an estate plan.

Contact us today to find out how Frank Campisano and the team at SCC Legal can help you with all your estate planning needs.


Five Things to Avoid in Your Estate Planning

While estate planning isn’t the way most people would like to spend their time, it is an essential task if we want to ensure our wishes are met and our families and loved ones are cared for after we pass. Here are five of the most common estate planning mistakes to avoid:

  1. Thinking you’re too young: Estate planning should be thought about simply in terms of thinking ahead, not in terms of when you think you will pass away. As soon as you start to live independently and gather assets, you should start planning your estate. This will ensure your property goes to the people most important to you, who need it most – not to those the state selects.
  2. Forgetting to sign a Health Care Directive: This is a legal document giving the person of your choosing the ability to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to. Many people think a Living Will takes care of this, but it doesn’t. If you have strong feelings about whether you prefer to be or not to be kept alive in certain medical situations, this is a very important document to consider.
  3. Excluding your business from your plan: For many people, their business is more than their livelihood – it’s their passion. However, it is often forgotten about when it comes to estate planning. Consider what would happen to your business if you pass away – who should it go to? Is there someone who can buy it? How will this affect your dependents?
  4. Taking a DIY approach: In reality, the technical side of estate planning is very complex – it’s not as simple as leaving certain assets to certain people. The tax side, for example, needs to be managed very carefully in order to ensure the least amount of tax possible is levied on your estate. This will have a significant effect on the outcome of your estate and needs to be addressed by a professional who knows this system intimately and can give you solid advice.
  5. Choosing the wrong executor: This is the person who will be responsible for administering your estate and, as such, will not benefit from your estate. It’s very important the chosen person knows you and your family, knows and supports your views and has the time and ability to perform their duties. An estate planning lawyer can help you decide who will fit this position, explain their duties and even help add a third party who can assist the executor, such as a bank trust department.

Frank Campisano is an estate planning specialist at Sedita, Campisano and Campisano in New Jersey, who brings an exceptional level of patience and compassion to this often emotional process. With many years of experience, he can assist you in developing an estate plan that addresses all your requirements in a comprehensive manner, ensuring your hard work and assets go to the people you love rather than to the government. At our practice, trust is the key – and we’ll give you all the time, advice and expertise you need to ensure your wishes are carried out. For more information about estate planning or to book an appointment to see Frank Campisano, please contact us today.

Estate planning is easier when you’re not dead

Dealing with the division of your estate and property can be emotionally draining for your loved ones when you pass away. If you haven’t carried out proper estate planning by this stage, your heirs can be faced with quite a daunting and unpleasant task. They may have to deal with unfair division of your property, excessive inheritance tax and a probate process which will have them tearing their hair out.

New Jersey estate planning attorneys are always advising clients to get their estate in order well in advance. Yes, you might have many happy and healthy years ahead of you, but wouldn’t you like to have the peace of mind that your descendants will receive their inheritance without a glitch and minimal estate taxes will be imposed?

With the help of a professional NJ estate planning attorney you can ensure all your loose ends are tied up and that all your assets and property can be properly divided. With an estate plan in place the following details will be resolved for your beneficiaries:

  • The state of your finances at the time of death.
  • Information on all property you own.
  • Appointment of guardians for children who are minors.
  • What tax amounts you can expect to pay when transferring property to beneficiaries.

Estate planning services offered by NJ estate planning attorneys:

  • Identification of beneficiaries you wish to include.
  • Management of all legal proceedings with regards to the transfer of property to your beneficiaries. We will ensure your estate is divided according to your strict instructions.
  • Keep estate taxes to an absolute minimum.
  • Ensure any life prolonging medical care instructions that you have given are presented to the relevant medical parties and family members.

These are just a few of the ways in which we can help you to get your affairs in order while you are still able to.

Estate planning at SCC Legal

While it is not a fun prospect to think about your death and how your possessions will be dealt with, you still need to face the reality of death in your future. If you want to ensure that your heirs and loved ones have a simple process to go through, then hiring a compassionate and dedicated NJ estate planning attorney is the best course of action. Frank Campisano of SCC Legal provides an empathetic and professional estate planning process. With the help of him and his team you can expect for your loved ones to be able to gain access to their inheritance with relative ease.

There is simply nothing that you can do after death and we strongly advise all clients to take the time to make these decisions before it’s too late. Be in touch with us at SCC Legal for more assistance with your New Jersey estate planning.

Revocable living trusts in New Jersey

The beneficiaries and heirs to your estate can suffer quite an overwhelming loss in the event of your death if you have not made arrangements for proper estate planning. A revocable living trust can help to ease some of the pain and burden during this particularly difficult time for your loved ones. Without such in place, your children can be faced with confusing and lengthy probate processes, hefty inheritance taxes, and even will contests.

There are various types of living trusts one can look into. There are two main types we see, revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts. As New Jersey estate planning attorney’s it is our duty to be familiar with all types. Federal laws that dictate the ins and outs of estate planning and taxation can be quite confusing and this is why it is essential you have a professional attorney on your side.

A revocable living trust is one that can be altered as time goes by. If you decide you want to change the beneficiaries or trustees, this can be quite easily and legally done. Irrevocable living trusts however cannot be changed once the document has been signed.

What are the benefits of a revocable living trust?

  • With such a trust you can avoid probate processes.
  • You can provide protection for property and assets handed over to certain beneficiaries. This is often the case if the beneficiaries are under age. The trust will ensure the inheritance is handled in a particular way.
  • Estate taxes can be reduced or eliminated due to living trusts being provided with certain deductions and credits that are allowed under tax laws.
  • Management of property upon incapacity. This means successor trustees can take over when you become incapacitated or resign.
  • A trust can avoid a will contest. This is possible as a will only takes effect after the death of the individual. A living trust is in action from the moment the documents are signed.

These are just a few of the reasons why we strongly feel you need to set in place a revocable living trust in New Jersey.

The role of an attorney in the estate planning process

Drawing up a living trust forms part of your estate planning and you should try to do this as early on as possible. Having a reputable and empathetic estate planning lawyer or elder law attorney on your side will mean that your heirs are assisted by a professional with their best interests at heart.

Frank Campisano of SCC Legal is more than just another attorney. He is dedicated to providing professional, compassionate and efficient elder law advice and estate planning assistance. He and his team are trusted and respected legal advisors in New Jersey, and for good reason. With Frank Campisano, your first consultation is always free and he welcomes you to take the time to discuss your particular situation with him at any time.

While it is unpleasant to think about the future in this light, it is better to be prepared than to leave your descendants in an uncomfortable situation.  We welcome you to chat to us at SCC Legal about your needs and requirements without delay.

What is a living will?

A living will is slightly different from your last will and testament. This particular type of will is designed for those who are receiving medical treatment or will in the future, and want to be able to express their desires regarding treatment when they are no longer able to speak for themselves. This is often referred to as an “advanced directive” and usually dictates that an individual does not consent to artificial life support when dying/after an operation/when involved in an accident and so on.

The living will is usually signed in duplicate and at least two witnesses are required. It is important to ensure you let your doctors and family members know of this particular will and where to find it in the event of something happening to you. It is vitally important to have one of these wills in place if you want your loved ones and health care providers to be advised of your wishes when it comes to life prolonging medical treatment.

Setup a living will – New Jersey residents

In New Jersey, you can actually download a form called an “Instructive Directive” from the State of New Jersey Department of Health’s Website. You will see a variety of sections that need to be completed and it is strongly recommended you make use of a lawyer to assist you with completing each section correctly and with enough detail. Alternatively your lawyer can draw up all the paperwork involved for you.

Of course the requirements for a living will are different in each state, which is why it is vitally important to have a lawyer involved in the drawing up of the will. Most elder law legal practices will include a living will as part of their estate planning package, much the same as we do at SCC Legal.

Take the time to discuss your legal needs and requirements with us at SCC Legal and we will insure you are assisted every step of the way.

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Avoidance of NJ Estate Taxes Through Marital Trusts

by Frank Campisano

New Jersey residents are generally unaware of the potential for the assessment of New Jersey estate taxes on their estates.   Although the current Federal exemption of $5,250,000.00 is more than adequate to shield most estates from Federal estate taxes, New Jersey has a relatively low estate tax exemption of $675,000.00.  At first blush, the New Jersey exemption of $675,000.00 also appears to be an adequate shield for most middle and upper middle income families until one undertakes a close examination of the assets which comprise a decedent’s gross estate.  A common misconception is that only traditional probate assets (e.g., assets passing under a Last Will & Testament) are included in one’s gross estate.  However, non-probate assets passing through beneficiary designations on contractual instruments such as investment accounts, IRAs, and Certificates of Deposits, which are termed “non-probate assets”, are also included in a decedent’s gross estate.  Moreover, all insurance proceeds or death benefits passing under life insurance policies owned by the decedent are also includable in the decedent’s gross estate even though they too pass through beneficiary designations rather than by a Will.

Although estate assets are also shielded by an unlimited spousal exemption, far too few people in New Jersey consider the impact of New Jersey estate taxes when both spouses ultimately die and leave their combined estates to the couple’s children.  For example, if the husband dies his estate will pass to the wife tax free under the marital exemption.  When the wife ultimately dies, however, her estate which is comprised of both her and her husband’s assets will then pass to the couple’s children.  If the combined estates of both spouses exceed $675,000.00, New Jersey will assess an estate tax on transfers to the couple’s heirs.   The failure to consider the tax consequences on the “second spouse to die”, coupled with the misconception regarding the inclusion of non-probate assets in the gross estate often lead to the payment of estate taxes which could have been avoided through effective estate planning.

A fundamental technique utilized by estate planning professionals to limit both Federal and New Jersey estate taxes involves the use of marital trusts.  A marital trust allows a portion of a spouse’s estate to support the surviving spouse, but exclude certain assets from being included in the surviving spouse’s estate.   A carefully crafted and funded marital trust will thus save the surviving spouse’s estate from significant estate tax liability

At Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, we provide effective estate planning to suit your family’s needs.  We are experienced in drafting and funding marital trusts which can minimize the amount of Federal and New Jersey estate tax liability.  We will review your financial situation and carefully formulate an estate plan that best suits your particular needs.

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