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Jersey City Estate Planning Lawyer Blog

Pet owners may want to include pets in estate plans

Many people in New Jersey are diligent about drafting their estate-planning documents and keep them up-to-date. They make sure that their loved ones are cared for, and they’ve decided who will take care of their home in the event of their death, among other things. Unfortunately, some people fail to include their pets in their estate plans, leaving some beloved animals without a caregiver.

Pets are largely dependent on their human owners for food, water, and shelter. For this reason, it’s important for pet owners to keep their pets safe in the event of their unexpected death. Some pet owners choose to carry a card with them that lists who will care for their pets in an emergency and how that person can be reached. In other cases, people have even set up trusts for their pets, which provides the pet’s next owner with financial resources to cover the costs of the pet’s food, shelter, grooming, and other necessities.

Paris Jackson's mother becomes co-guardian

Most parents in New Jersey would likely agree that their children have different personalities and different needs. When determining guardianship of a child, it is important to consider the child’s unique personality traits. What is best for one child may not necessarily be the best arrangement for his or her siblings.

Fifteen-year-old Paris Jackson, the daughter of the late Michael Jackson, has been showing signs that she’s still grieving the loss of her father. After his death, she reportedly saw her father’s body firsthand. About a year ago she took several medications and cut herself with a kitchen knife at her late father’s estate. Following this incident, Child Protective Services stepped in to investigate.

Man attempts to claim $40 million Blum fortune

Most successful New Jersey residents leave their financial assets to their heirs, who are usually their children, grandchildren, and other relatives. However, in rare cases, people die without a will, and the courts are left with the task of sorting out their estates. In general, if no one is identified as an heir to the fortune, the state receives the assets.

By the end of developer Roman Blum’s life, he had amassed a $40 million fortune, which would have been a sizeable sum for his heirs. However, for an unknown reason, Blum neglected to draft a will, which means that his assets will be left to the state as long as no one else claims them.

Outdated beneficiary forms can cause problems

Most people in New Jersey help their children and grandchildren as much as they can. Fortunately, wills and other estate planning documents enable people to pass their wealth on to their descendants. However, some people neglect to update some of the most critical documents: beneficiary designation forms.

Updating beneficiary designation forms may be more important than some people think. Beneficiary designations on assets such as life insurance plans, employee benefits, and 529 accounts override divorce agreements and wills. For this reason, some financial experts recommend that people review their beneficiary designations once a year. Also, people may want to consider adding their adult children as secondary beneficiaries in the event that their spouse dies before they do.

Young adults need to prepare for emergencies

People in New Jersey who have college-aged children are typically working to get their own estate planning documents in order. Once they’ve reached this stage of life, retirement is right around the corner. Because they’re so busy taking care of their own legal documents, they may neglect their children’s estate planning needs, which can cause serious problems during an emergency.

As soon as a young person turns 18, he becomes a legal adult. Unfortunately, some young people neglect to update their legal documents after they reach this milestone. For instance, when young adults fail to designate someone to make medical decisions on their behalf, their parents may be unable to receive any information from doctors regarding their medical condition. If a young person is in a coma and can’t make critical end-of-life decisions, his or her parents may be powerless.

Revlon heiress questions uncle's role in drafting of will

Although wills are intended to prevent family members from arguing over a loved one’s assets and property, there are exceptions. Because people in New Jersey sometimes change their wills when they’re nearing the end of their life, when they may be elderly and ailing, their decision-making abilities may be diminished. Unfortunately, some family members who don’t have their relative’s best interests in mind may take advantage of this situation to pursue their own self-interest.

A few years before his death, Hudson media founder Robert Cohen drafted a will that would have given his daughter, Claudia Cohen, a large share of his fortune. The size of the fortune is unknown. After Claudia Cohen passed away in 2007, her daughter argued that her uncle, James Cohen, had coerced his father to change the will so that he would receive the majority of the Revlon fortune instead. However, it is unclear whether the woman, Samantha Perelman, has any evidence of her uncle’s wrongdoing. Perelman is also likely to inherit the Revlon Cosmetics fortune, which is estimated to be worth billions.

Walton family protects $100 billion fortune with trusts

Millions of people in New Jersey and other states shop regularly at Wal-Mart. Consequently, the Walton family, descendants of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, has more than $100 billion in assets, making it one of the wealthiest families in the world.

The Waltons have made several critical estate planning decisions that have enabled them to protect their assets from estate taxes. For individuals that have more than $5.25 million or couples with more than $10.5 million, estate taxes are as high as 40 percent. However, the Waltons have largely avoided these taxes by setting up various trusts, the majority of which benefit charitable organizations. The Waltons are not an anomaly; the majority of wealthy American families take advantage of various tax loopholes to avoid paying estate taxes.

TV star Simon Cowell plans to leave fortune to charity

People in New Jersey typically leave their financial assets to their children and grandchildren. However, some people who are passionate about a cause or charitable organization may choose to donate all or part of their estate. Fortunately, through estate planning, people remain in control over where their money goes after they die.

Although wealthy celebrities often leave their fortunes to their children, TV star Simon Cowell said he plans to donate his financial assets instead. It is unclear whether his entire estate will be given to charity, or if he plans to set aside some money for his son, who has not yet been born. Even if Cowell’s son does not become his heir, it is likely that he will benefit from some of the perks of being the son of a well-known TV personality.

After girl’s parents refuse chemotherapy, hospital seeks guardianship

When a New Jersey child is terminally ill, his or her parents typically have the legal authority to make critical decisions about their child’s health care. However, in some cases, the court decides that the parents aren’t capable of making these important decisions, and guardianship of the child is given to another person. In order to transfer guardianship from the parents, it must be clear to the judge that the child’s parents do not have the best interests of the child in mind.

After a 10-year-old Amish girl started chemotherapy treatment for cancer, her parents noticed that he overall well being deteriorated. For this reason, they decided it would be best for her to discontinue chemotherapy, even though the treatment increased her chances of survival to 85 percent. Instead, the couple chose to treat the girl with natural remedies such as vitamins and herbs.

Federal tax changes have impact on estate planning

Sometimes federal and state governments pass laws that have a tremendous impact on estate planning. For this reason, it’s important for New Jersey residents to pay close attention to these changes and react appropriately. Otherwise, they could be facing an enormous tax liability at the end of their life, which could be disastrous to their children’s financial lives.

Before this year, wealthy individuals and couples often turned to trusts as a way to avoid costly estate taxes. However, now that the federal government exempts people with less than $5.25 million in assets, or $10.5 million for couples, from estate taxes, people are changing their strategies.

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McCurrie McCurrie & McCurrie, L.L.C.
680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
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