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Chocolate and flowers have been exchanged, dinner reservations have been made and fulfilled, and Valentine’s day has officially passed. However with the end of February approaching, there is more you can do for your spouse than buying gifts or sharing a romantic evening. Although it’s far from a traditional Valentine’s gift, a well-written and up-to-date estate plan is one of the most important ways you can protect your loved ones. There are many estate planning strategies available to help you meet your personal goals, whatever they may be. In the spirit of the time of year, a nice gift exchange between clients and their spouses is a Spousal Lifetime Access
How this program may help ensure your estate plan will never let you & your family down at the critical moment   We hear it all the time when talking about estate plans—“I already have an estate plan in place, so I don’t have to worry.” But there are a few major things people don’t realize about estate planning that can put them at risk of not being prepared when the time comes. Plans need to be constantly updated, monitored and maintained on an ongoing basis. What was set up many years ago may not necessarily be current today. Asset changes, law updates and family changes can cause a well
‘Tis the season of giving—this December, countless gifts have been and will be exchanged between families, friends, coworkers and neighbors. In America, even many people who don’t celebrate gift-giving holidays like Christmas exchange gifts at the end of the year in accordance with the traditions of their friends and families. The last thing any of us want to be thinking about while selecting or opening gifts, is taxes, and normally, we don’t have to. But, if the end of the year has inspired you to think about bigger gifts—like property, or perhaps a new car for your loved one—here are some things you may want to be aware of before
This Thanksgiving, there are several things that we need to be grateful for—and hey, we are after all an estate planning firm, so naturally we’re talking from the estate planning perspective.   Many of you may already know that we are currently in a taxpayer favorable environment and so it behooves us all to at least take notice, if not take advantage of, some of the planning techniques that are still around for the foreseeable future. Changes may occur in the administration a lot sooner than we all anticipated, so the “wait and see” approach is now no longer prudent—being thankful for the current environment may mean acting now rather
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.[1]   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