Tag Archives: estate planning

Effective Estate Planning can Avoid Estate Litigation

After a person passes away, their estate is generally distributed amongst various parties, including beneficiaries that have been named in a will or a trust, creditors, and others. Unfortunately, this process does not always go smoothly, sometimes resulting in complicated and acrimonious litigation that can tie an estate up in court for months or even years. Some of the more common types of estate litigation that occur include the following:

  • Challenges to the validity of a will
  • Requests for the court to interpret ambiguous terms in a will or trust
  • Guardianship contests (in the event that an individual is still alive but diminished mental capacity)
  • Breach of fiduciary duty

These disputes can arise in a wide variety of situations, but some risk factors for estate litigation are easy to spot: issues like sibling rivalries, disinherited children, multiple marriages, or gifts to extramarital paramours significantly increase the likelihood that someone will bring a challenge. In addition, if you engage in non-traditional estate planning techniques or attempt to exercise a significant amount of control on your beneficiaries after you are gone, it also increases the likelihood that someone will challenge your estate plan.

How can Estate Planning Help?

There are a number of ways that an attorney familiar with estate planning techniques can help reduce the likelihood that there will be litigation over your estate, including the following:

  • Regularly assessing and updating your will or trust documents to reflect your wishes
  • Planning for mental incapacity by establishing a financial party of attorney that takes effect if you become incapacitated
  • Establishing joint ownership of assets that you wish to pass to a particular party
  • Creating a living trust
  • Establishing a no-contest clause to discourage litigation
  • Choosing a trustworthy and competent executor or trustee
  • Ensuring that your documents comply with all relevant state law

Contact a New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney Today to Learn More

Avoiding litigation over your estate is always advisable, as it can save your family significant time, money and emotional turmoil. Unfortunately, it is difficult to recognize the circumstances that may result in a dispute, so it important to speak with an attorney who is familiar with the kinds of situations that often result in litigation. To schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl, P.C., call our office today at 732-422-1000 or send us an email through our online contact form.


Do I Need an Estate Plan?

If you are like many people, you may hear the term “estate plan” and immediately assume that the information that follows is not directed at you. This usually stems from the misconception that estate planning is only for the wealthy and for people who actually have an “estate.”

Here’s the reality: if you are reading this article, it is very likely that you have an estate. Legally, the term “estate” simply refers to the totality of a person’s assets and debts. So, if you own a home, a car, personal property, or anything else, you have an estate. An estate plan is a plan that addresses the way your assets will be handled when you pass away that can also have tax benefits and asset protection benefits. It is never too early to start the process of estate planning, so it is advisable to call an estate planning attorney as soon as you can to discuss your options.

Estate Planning to Avoid Probate

One of the main goals of estate planning is avoid having your assets go through probate before your heirs and beneficiaries can take possession of them. If you pass away in New Jersey with or without a will, your property will have to go through probate. During this process, if you have a will, your will is validated and interpreted, debts are handled, taxes paid, and assets are transferred. If you pass away without a will, the probate court will apply New Jersey’s intestacy laws in order to determine who will inherit your assets.

The problem with probate is that it can take a long time and cost an estate a significant amount of money. If there are disputes, the will arise during probate, and complicated estates can take years to settle. In addition, attorney’s fees, appraiser’s fees, court fees, and executor fees can easily cost even a modest estate thousands of dollars. Fortunately, a well-thought out estate plan can often avoid probate entirely. Some of the ways that an attorney can help you avoid probate include:

  • Placing your assets in a living trust
  • Using beneficiary deeds for the ownership of real estate
  • Joint ownership of assets
  • Designated beneficiary bank accounts

Call 732-422-1000 today for a consultation.

A comprehensive estate plan can provide you with significant peace of mind and ensure that your estate is protected for years to come. To speak with a skilled New Jersey estate planning lawyer, call Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl, PC today at 732-422-1000. If you would prefer, you can send us an email through our online contact form.


Two Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Estate planning is the process through which you can make sure that your assets are distributed the way that you want them to be when you pass away. In the absence of a well-crafted and comprehensive estate plan, state law will determine what happens to your hard-earned assets and your estate could be tied up in expensive probate proceedings for a significant period of time.

One of the main goals of New Jersey estate planning is to have as few assets go through probate as possible. Anything that is passed through a will goes through probate, so many people use beneficiary designations on certain accounts of forms of joint ownership to avoid probate. Here are two common estate planning mistakes that can happen when trying to avoid having your assets go through probate.

POD Bank Accounts that Do Not Match Will Beneficiaries

When you open a bank account, you may have the option of designating a person to whom the account will transfer if you pass away. These accounts are generally known as Payable on Death or POD accounts. Years later, as the assets in the account grow and the circumstances of your life change, you may execute a will that designates another person as the beneficiary of that account. Unfortunately, these types of bank account designations generally override the terms of a will, which can result in your assets being distributed differently than you had intended.

Beneficiaries Designation that are at Odds with the Terms of Your Will

Insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuity, and similar assets generally pass to a named beneficiary. As a result, beneficiary designations are often an important part of your overall estate plan. Unfortunately, when people execute a will, they often forget to update the beneficiaries of these accounts often causing conflict among family members and other beneficiaries. For this reason, it is important to regularly review beneficiary designations and ensure that they still reflect your wishes.

Call 732-422-1000 today for a consultation.

If you need to create an estate plan or simply have not reviewed your current estate plan in some time, you should speak with an estate planning attorney as soon as you can. At Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl, PC, we are committed to helping individuals protect their assets for future generations. To schedule a case evaluation, call our office today.


Estate Planning? Top Mistakes to Avoid

Working on your estate planning can be a draining process, not in the least because of the high emotions involved in preparing for end of life processes. When you’re putting together a will, it’s important to be aware of these top common traps that individuals can fall into if they’re not careful, which could leave some of their assets up to question, or worse- invalidate the entire document. Read on to prepare yourself for willful success.

  1. State of Your State. Each state has its own laws, and those about your estate planning are certainly included. If you have lived in multiple states, and written one will in one location, it won’t necessarily be valid in another. It’s important to know the differences you may encounter before it’s too late.
  2. A Place for Everything. While you may feel inclined to list all of your possessions for distribution, there is no need for certain elements of your wishes to be included in this particular legal document. This includes your wishes for a funeral, life insurance, or joint property, among many others.
  3. Base on Your Business. If you have spent years of your life building up a successful business, it should be important to you to ensure its continued success. If you plan to keep a family company in the family, or if you are a sole proprietor, it is important to explicitly spell out these wishes.
  4. Holes in the Holographs. Writing a will by hand is one technically legal way to state your end of life wishes, but it’s not always the most reliable route. This is known as a ‘holographic will’, and it means that they have specific legal limitations to what can be included, revision rules, and their ability to be verified by witnesses.
  5. Include your life! A living will is just as important as the one which cares for your assets after death. This document is somewhat different, and lays out your wishes for end of life care, including resuscitation and specific treatments. This also can include designating a trusted family member with the power of attorney.
  6. Revise and Renew. Like all important documents, a will should not be a one and done proposition. Revise this document after important periods in your life, including marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or other major financial changes. Regularly work to ensure that your estate planning is up to date.
  7. No Time Like the Present. While it’s not always the most positive conversation to have, it’s important to not wait too long to begin your estate planning. Dying without a will can cause difficulties for your beneficiaries and your assets won’t always go to whom you would have intended.
  8. Give While Alive. There’s nothing saying you need to die destitute, but since you can’t take it with you, you can avoid having your beneficiaries be hit with steep taxes for gifts given after death if you instead give while you are living. You are permitted to give up to $13,000 in gifts untaxed each year.
  9. Death and Taxes. They say nothing’s certain in life except death and taxes, and in the case of wills, both can come at your dependents at the same time. Understanding complicated estate tax laws are vital to making sure all is done properly, especially with gifts as mentioned above.
  10. Don’t Go Alone. For the best services in estate planning, enlist a trusted and experienced attorney. For a consultation with us at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, PC, give us a call today at 732-422-1000.

Estate Planning: The Early Bird Gets the Dough

It’s not the most fun topic to bring up over a holiday dinner, but the sooner you get started on estate planning, the more beneficial it will be to you and your descendants. It requires a large amount of time and effort, and those who delay doing so will pay the eventual price for their leisure. Your whole life efforts can be lost if you do not properly plan out where you would like your investments, assets, and other financial strengths to go. Here’s a quick look at the importance of estate planning, which is no longer for just the rich, but for all earners who want their assets to go to the intended beneficiaries upon death. While this is hopefully a long way off, those who die without leaving a solid plan for their estate may find their assets going to unintended individuals or the government.

First Breakdown. Some of the steps that you’ll need to take in your estate planning process include determining your beneficiaries, the breakdown of what each will receive, and the ways to do so without paying excess and unnecessary tax obligations. Before doing any of this, however, the first step is assessing your net worth to know how much you even have to distribute. Understanding the basics of how this is done is vital in making sure that your financial goals are carried out, as well as for furthering any philanthropic aims you may have for your assets after you are gone.

Assessing Net Worth. Getting an accurate, or as near to accurate number as possible, for your net worth is an important first step in preparing your estate for a sound financial future. This involves taking stock of all your assets and debts and looking at them holistically to see how much you possess financially. Your assets include investments, cash, retirement accounts, life insurance, real estate or other property, business interest, and personal possessions of value. Debts are then subtracted from the sum of all your assets and the end result is your net worth.

Taxes are also a painfully important part to understand during the estimation of your net worth. Along with your federal taxes, other states have estate and inheritance taxes that will significantly impact what you will be able to give to beneficiaries.

Healthcare Decisions. These are another vital part of preparing for end of life care that goes along with planning for your estate. Using a living will, you will be able to dictate exactly how you would like to be cared for if you’re no longer able to properly express those wishes yourself. Giving a close relative such as a spouse or adult child the power of attorney will enable them to make decisions for you, with the assumption that they would act as you would have wished. Without establishing these wishes yourself in legally protected documentation, the government will use the default legal requirements to make those decisions for you.

Experienced Attorneys are Here to Help: For all matters of estate planning and end of life decisions, having a qualified lawyer on your side will make the whole process smoother for all involved. Each of us at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, PC has extensive experience and are here for you. Contact us for a consultation at 732-422-1000 today.