Why Are You Checking Email Today?

Business Succession Planning

Why are you checking email today? There could be many reasons. You could be addicted to your phone. You could be working. You might also own your own business, and when you own your own business you’re always on call. Which is why you’re checking your email today.

If you do own your own business, then you must wonder what will happen to that business if you pass away. Or you might be wondering what will happen to your business when you retire. I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions as I watch the show Rectify, on IFC.

Without going through the whole backstory (it’s a very complicated, powerful, amazing show), at some point we learn there is a family (tire) business that the owners go to great lengths to think about selling. The thing I loved about the show is that so many of the issues the owners had to face are exactly the same issue my clients deal with as they contemplate retirement (or an untimely passing).

For example, have you thought about:
– What happens when I retire?
– What will happen to the business if I pass?
– What happens if I get sick, or become disabled?
– If I have partners, what happens to my share of the business if something happens?
– What happens if my child divorces?
– What happens if I get a divorce?

We are about to witness the greatest wealth transfer in human history. There are about $30 trillion in assets that are about to be passed from one generation to the next, as the boomers retire and the next generation steps up. If you are in either category (thinking about retiring, or thinking about taking over a business), then you must assemble a great team of advisors and attorneys who can help you navigate the process. We can certainly help. If you have any questions about your business, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com or call 908-236-6457 today.

One last thing – stay tuned for an email later this week about three more events we are hosting with Rountable Wealth Management about the new tax changes under the Trump Administration. The first event in Franklin Lakes was a tremendous success, and we look forward to having you come to one of the events in your area!

Estate Plan Checklist

power of a will, wills, trusts, estate planning, union and hunterdon counties new jersey

After weeks, months, or maybe even years of procrastinating, you’re finally ready to set up your estate plan. Remember, the sooner you create your estate plan, the sooner you will have peace of mind that your family is taken care of should something happen to you.

Many people who decide to create an estate plan say, I just want a simple plan, nothing fancy. The truth of the matter is that your estate, assets and family members greatly determine the complexity of your estate plan. So while you may want a simple plan that requires very little of your time to set up, the circumstances of your estate and life may dictate otherwise.

Of course you can always make your life easier by running through the following estate plan checklist:

  1. Determine the goal of your estate plan — So, you’ve decided you need an estate plan. Why? What is the ultimate goal of having an estate plan in place? Are you a philanthropist who wants to see your wealth enjoyed by the less fortunate? Maybe you want to leave everything you have to your spouse. Or perhaps your intention is to preserve your legacy for many generations after you’re gone.
  2. Retain an estate planning lawyer — Unless you practice law, you probably don’t know much about estate planning, wills, trusts, healthcare directives and other estate planning mechanisms. When hiring a lawyer, make sure you choose someone who practices estate planning law in your state. And no, don’t attempt to move forward on your own without an estate planning lawyer — this is your legacy after all.
  3. Identify your assets — Prior to setting up an estate plan, you need to be able to identify all assets and property you own. Depending on your financial situation, compiling such a list may require more than a Sunday afternoon.
  4. Identify your executor — If you had to choose one person in your life to handle all your affairs after your death, who would it be? The person you name as your executor must be a trustworthy and competent individual who will ensure the wishes of your last will and testament are carried out.

Now that you’ve successfully gone through this checklist, it’s time to draft your estate plan. To begin the process, make an appointment with your estate planning lawyer as soon as possible. For more information on estate planning in NJ and NY, Contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com, or call 908-236-6457.

What to Leave Out When Making Your Will

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So you’ve finally decided to sit down and draft your Will. While you should be applauded for your effort, what you may not realize is what you leave out of your Will can be just as important as what you include.

Having a sound Will in place is important because it tells your surviving loved ones how your property and assets should be disposed of after you’re gone. Without a Will in place, your estate falls under New Jersey’s intestacy laws. Many people assume that by creating a Will, they can distribute their property and assets with impunity. However, depending on your situation, you may have certain assets or properties that are already bequeathed to another beneficiary.

One common example is joint tenancy property. Let’s say you and your brother own a piece of property together. When drafting your Will, however, you request that your ownership pass to your spouse. Upon your death, by law, your interest in the joint tenancy property would pass to your brother and not your spouse despite your Will requesting otherwise.

Another similar example is life insurance. If you already have a beneficiary to your life insurance policy, stating in your Will that you would like another person to be your beneficiary is a futile effort. According to the law, you already named a beneficiary — your Will cannot invalidate your policy and designate a new beneficiary.

Avoid leaving gifts for unlawful purposes

When leaving a gift in your Will, do not include unlawful instructions regarding how the gift should be used. For example, you would be unable to leave your Malibu home to your nephew under the condition that the home only be used for trafficking drugs.

Leave funeral instructions out of your Will

If you have detailed instructions about how you wish to buried, you aren’t alone. However, you should resist the urge to include funeral instructions in your Will. Why? Because most estates and probate proceedings aren’t dealt with until after the funeral, making your extensive and well-thought out funerary guidelines of little use to your heirs. Instead, simply talk to your loved ones about how you wish to be buried.

For more information about what you should and should not include in your will, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney today. Contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com, or call 908-236-6457 for assistance with estate planning matters in New Jersey and New York.

Creating a Fair Estate Plan for Your Children

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If you’re a parent, it goes without saying — you want what’s best for your kids. When your children are young, it makes sense to divide your estate equally among them. However, as your kids get older and reach their 20s and 30s, you may discover that one child is more financially responsible than another. How does this affect your estate plan? Should one child receive more than the other?

When creating your estate plan and deciding how your property and assets should be divided after you die, consider the following factors:

  • Caregiver — What if one child stuck around to take care of you later in life while your other children moved away? You may want to leave more to him or her since he or she sacrificed part of their life to take care of you.
  • Life situations — One child may be a single lawyer with few expenses while the other may have a large family to support on a modest salary. Should both children receive the same amount?
  • Special needs children — If you have a child who is handicapped or disabled, he or she will likely require special care and attention for the rest of their lives. As a result, he or she may require considerably more assets to survive.
  • Younger children may need more support — Is there a drastic age disparity between your children? You may have older children who are independent adults and a younger child who is just broaching adulthood.

Regardless of how you decide to set up your estate plan, one thing is certain: you must inform your children — you do not want have them surprised by your estate plan. In some cases, siblings are so distraught over the outcome of a Will, they may seek a will contest. The last thing you want as a parent, is to have your children fighting over your will after you die. Sit down with a skilled estate planning attorney, voice your concerns, and heed his or her advice. Then, speak to your children and let them know about your estate plan and what they should expect if you pass away or become incapacitated.

Many aspects of estate planning are complicated and sensitive. By consulting with an experienced lawyer, you can gain a better understanding of the process and ensure your legacy is enjoyed by your children. Contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com, or call 908-236-6457 for assistance with estate planning matters in New Jersey and New York.

What is Testamentary Capacity?

Testamentary-Capacity

The creator and signer of a Will is known as a testator. Testamentary capacity, therefore, is the ability of the testator to knowingly sign his or her Will. There are numerous ailments that may result in the incapacity of the testator, preventing him or her from validating an unsigned Will. One of the most common diseases that causes this is Alzheimer’s Disease. Many Americans in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s, believe there is no threat of developing this terrible disease or other forms of dementia — they view early symptoms simply as “senility” and “growing old”.

However, as the Alzheimer’s Association points out, 1 in 3 seniors in America will die with Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of dementia. In 2015, it was estimated that 5.3 million Americans suffered from Alzheimer’s.

As a result, it is imperative that you update your estate plan on a regular basis. Currently, Alzheimer’s Disease is the only cause of death in the top 10 causes that cannot be cured, prevented or even slowed.

But what if you fail to sign your Will and start to show signs of dementia? Is it too late? Are you unable to sign your Will? It depends on whether you have testamentary capacity. Just as there are different types and stages of cancer, there are different types and stages of dementia. To determine if you have the ability to sign your Will, the following criteria must be met:

  • Extent and value of your property — You know what assets and property you own and their current value.
  • Natural beneficiaries — You know which persons are your natural beneficiaries.
  • Disposition you are making — You understand the function of a will and how it is used to dispose of property.
  • How to form an orderly plan — You have an understanding of how these components come together to create an estate plan to distribute your assets and property.

You must understand that if your family members are unhappy with the outcome of your Will, they may seek a Will Contest on the basis that you were not of sound mind when you signed the document. Should your will be found invalid, a previous Will may be used or your Estate may pass through NJ’s intestacy laws.

The best way to ensure your Will is clearly understood and acknowledged as valid is to consult with an experienced attorney. While hashing out a comprehensive Estate Plan may not be at the top of your to-do list, it can save your heirs headaches and heart ache in the event of your death. For more information on Estate Planning in New Jersey, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com, or call 908-236-6457.

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