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Flemington NJ Estate Planning Law Blog

Modifying an estate plan after a divorce

Going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience both emotionally and financially for New Jersey residents. Former couples often seek to put the whole experience behind them once negotiations have been concluded and settlements signed, but failing to take care of estate planning matters before moving on could leave their assets and even their lives in jeopardy. Health care proxies often give spouses the authority to make life-or-death decisions, which is an issue that should be addressed without delay if the divorce was an acrimonious one.

Powers of attorneys should also be modified after a divorce. This is especially important if a durable power of attorney is involved as these arrangements could provide bitter ex-spouses access to assets even when the principals are not incapacitated. The beneficiaries listed on life insurance policies and retirement accounts cannot generally be changed while divorce negotiations are ongoing, but addressing this issue should be a priority once an agreement has been reached and a divorce becomes final.

Seek professional advice before making an estate plan

A professionally prepared estate plan may make it easier for family members to settle an estate after a loved one passes away. Although a person could write their own will or complete an online template for a healthcare directive or powers of attorney, having documents that are specific to an individual situation may be more effective when a New Jersey family really needs to use them. The first step is meeting with professionals who have experience helping people plan their estates.

Depending on the size and complexity of an estate, it might be helpful to use several professionals in the planning process. A financial adviser, attorney and accountant could work together to ensure that a client's estate plan meets their goals. Each of these professionals has a different focus, and all of them working together could make sure the plan covers everything that's important to the client. Once there's a clear plan, an attorney may draft the necessary documents to make it official.

New Jersey wrestles with Marijuana's, past, present and future

As the nation deals with its views on legalizing marijuana, individual states are taking closer looks at their laws and considering the implications of Federal legalization. In New Jersey, bill A3620, introduced in March of 2018, would provide "expedited expungement of marijuana offenses in the event of decriminalization or legalization..." The motivation for this bill is the notion that, if legalized, it will be difficult to justify continued punishment for those with past low-level marijuana convictions.

Taking it a step further, Sen. Nicholas Scutari has recently introduced two bills: one of which would legalize possession and use of small amounts of marijuana and the other seeks to expand the medical marijuana program.

Airport employees risk hearing loss in the workplace

Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related injuries in the United States, and airport employees are especially vulnerable to hearing loss due to the high levels of noise across flight operations.

It's essential for airport employees to understand the risks they face at work, and how their workplace contributes to hearing loss or other hearing impairments.

The benefits of a pour-over will

To ensure a smooth asset division process, many New Jersey residents combine a pour-over will with a trust-based estate plan. It is often used when property needs to be transferred into a trust. The proper beneficiaries could be identified using the pour-over will.

If the assets haven't been included in a revocable living trust, the pour-over will can identify which assets will be distributed to the identified parties. The trust becomes the beneficiary of any property not included in it, thus preventing the assets from being passed to a living beneficiary.

Estate planning mistakes to fix right away

Estate planning is an important matter for all adults in New Jersey. While most people associate the need for an estate plan with being older, a recent survey by Wells Fargo shows that around 40 percent of Americans who are 60 or older haven't taken the time to create an estate plan. This is troubling because not having an estate plan leaves loved ones unprepared for when the person passes away.

Instead of leaving behind a huge mess, creating an estate can help to make things much easier for the surviving family members. Once the plan is made, however, the work isn't done. One of the biggest problems is that estate owners often neglect to tell anyone about their plans. Around 72 percent of older Americans say that their finances are private. However, this doesn't mean that they shouldn't let their loved ones know the plans that they've drawn up. It is possible to let others know what to expect without delving deep into finances.

More DWI Charges Are Being Dismissed In New Jersey

If you think there is no way to fight a drunk driving charge, it is time to think again.

While New Jersey has had a strong DWI conviction rate in the past, that rate is going down. A decade ago, about 85 percent of the drivers arrested for drunk driving ended up being convicted. That rate fell to 71 percent last year. Meanwhile, the rate of DWI dismissals has risen to 24 percent. In other words, an arrest does not by any means guarantee a conviction for DWI in New Jersey.

About using trusts

There are many different types of trusts New Jersey residents can use to protect their financial legacy and limit how much their estate may be taxed. However, it is important that in addition to choosing the right type of trust, they also designate the right person to administer the trusts.

Trusts can be used as safeguards against taxes so that one's heirs are not overly burdened with tax issues when they receive their inheritances. A trust can be used to hold tax-friendly financial assets for many years, including IRAs, life insurance policies and annuities, allowing those assets to grow while taxes are deferred or without being taxed at all. The exact type of tax treatment these assets receive will depend on the type of asset. For example, the distributions from Roth IRAs are tax-free for both the owner and the beneficiary.

The duties of a will executor

People in New Jersey who have been appointed executor of a will or who have been asked by a loved one to act as executor might wonder what responsibilities are involved. An executor's job involves locating assets, paying bills and distributing assets to beneficiaries based on a person's will.

Although executors can be paid for their services, those who are close family members, such as a spouse, a child or a parent, usually do not request compensation. However, the executor may use money from the estate for paying creditors and expenses such as the upkeep of a home. The executor might also need to pay taxes on the estate and make court appearances dealing with the estate. If the executor is paid as well, a probate court will decide on the amount based on state law and the complexity of the role.

The implications of anger

It can all happen in what seems a few seconds. A disagreement turns into an altercation, and you strike someone. Or, you didn't plan on yelling at the other person, but the situation escalated out of control.

If you feel that managing your anger is a challenge for you, here are some tips to calm down and take on a healthier perspective.

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Lanza & Lanza LLP
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Flemington, NJ 08822

Phone: 908-905-0183
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