Leona Helmsley, a hotel owner and real-estate investor known by many as “The Queen of Mean,” died in 2007, leaving behind over $4 billion in assets. At first, it would seem like she did everything to leave her estate organized the way one is supposed to; she left a 14-page Will behind with little ambiguity as to how her sizable assets would be divided upon her death, neatly packaged into individual testamentary trusts for her grandkids to be set up after her death and to be paid out over time. And yet, the final Court ruling did not conclude until earlier this year in 2019—a full 12 years since her
As an estate planning attorney, it is my job to talk about death and taxes in a very matter of fact manner. When I sit down with my clients to design their documents, I try to take emotions out of the conference room as we go through what should happens at first death or second death. When we come to the final part of the Will design, I ask – “In the unlikely event that all of you (you, your spouse, your kids, your grandkids) are not around to take their share, who would you want your assets to go to?” – and I get this uncomfortable laugh and oftentimes
Now that the new tax law has been underway for a few months now, this is probably a good time for a refresher on how the new changes affect the kiddie tax that could impact some families. The kiddie tax was first introduced in the Tax Reform of 1986 to close the loophole through which wealthy parents and grandparents would transfer assets the produced investment income to their children or grandchildren so that the child would be taxed at the lower tax rate. The tax was imposed on a portion of the affected child’s unearned income at the parent’s marginal rates if that was higher than the child’s rate.
The ABLE account (or Achieving a Better Life Experience) program is likened to an Educational IRA with some differences. An ABLE account can be set up for a Special Needs Individual who has had a disability diagnosis established before the age of 26. Special Needs Individuals who apply for disability benefits have to show that they have resources under $2k and any income that comes to them which puts them over that limit even by a dollar, could potentially trigger an ineligibility the following month. Up to now, such individuals and their families could only set up First or Third Party Special Needs Trusts to hold any excess funds.
I have been, for a while now, one of “those” New Jersey attorneys who likes to recommend Revocable Living Trusts (RLTs) for my clients perhaps more often than a majority of my fellow New Jersey colleagues. When I first started to practice in the area of trusts & estates, I spoke the same language as many of these attorneys when it came to recommending Wills over Revocable Living Trusts. They all said: “NJ is a probate friendly state; there is really no need to set up living trusts here. And those attorneys who are “churning” these trusts out like mills are only doing it to make a fast buck!” And
Two weeks ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend the 52nd Heckerling conference on Estate Planning. This is a conference where the best & brightest minds in estate planning deliver tips & strategies on the latest planning techniques. It was even more fortuitous for me, as a first-time attendee, that this year’s conference was all about the new tax code which went through a complete overhaul late last year. This new law informally referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is also officially known as: “H.R. 1 – An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution
It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is well behind us and we are into the first week of February! This post was originally scheduled for a January submission but due to a recent good interruption last week (my attendance at the Heckerling Conference on Estate Planning in Orlando, Florida), there was a slight delay. Stay tuned for my musings of the conference in the coming weeks. Thank you! We all know that people download Wills off of Legal Zoom thinking that “some” plan in place is better than none at all; rather than incur the expense of engaging an attorney, their thought is to come up with a quick solution
We all know about unclaimed property for your personal assets. All of your tangible and intangible items that you may have forgotten about (CDs, bank accounts, life insurance etc.) or haven’t been claimed for a long time, will be deemed abandoned. Eventually these assets escheat to the state. Go ahead and check out www.MissingMoney.com right now to see if you have any unclaimed property out there that belongs to you! Interestingly, I found out only recently that businesses can also have abandoned property for which they are required to file an annual report identifying items of unclaimed property. This is due by October 31st each year whether or not