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January 2013 Archives

Restatement might be alternative to multiple trust amendments

When people make a living trust, they are taking measures to protect themselves and their family from uncertainty should the unimaginable happen. While estate planning documents might seem like very definite legal documents, living trusts can often be changed. These changes might be as simple as amending certain parts of the document, and might not require an entirely new trust.

New estate tax rules leave many people thinking about their kids

On January 1, Congress made a lot of decisions regarding the financial situation for the country. Although there is an ongoing debate as to what they did, and what they might do in the future, one of the rules they did make permanent was how much money parents can leave to their heirs without having to pay estate taxes. This amount was set at $5.25 million. Whether or not a person has that much money to leave to their heirs, this estate tax rule has prompted many people to think about whether their children are actually ready to receive any large sum of money.

New Jersey residents may include pets in estate plans this year

It's a new year, and a great time to review your estate plan. Many people might be thinking, did we include everyone we wanted last time we looked at our will? More people are now looking at their wills and thinking about their favorite family pets. What happens if you pass away suddenly? A pet could be sent to the local animal shelter if they aren't included in a will.

Equalizing inheritance can be tricky with a family business

Many small business owners work hard to start their business, get through the tough economic times and prosper. If a business is maintained for generations, and a daughter or son is working at the business, a parent may want to hand that business down to their child who is interested in owning it. How does a person do that without being unfair to their other children? Just because a child has worked at a family business and shares a parent's passion for it, doesn't necessarily mean that child should get more of the inheritance.

Lessons from Downton Abbey: leaving a loving will

The popular British aristocratic drama that has taken America by storm has also provided a valuable lesson in estate planning. While the lesson might not seem like a big deal, it can have a very real impact after a person passes away. The lesson was that a loving note with a will can go a long way.

Getting a will is important for new parents

Wills are very important estate planning documents. They allow people to leave assets for their loved ones, and ensure proper instructions are given, should the person pass away unexpectedly. More important than helping to divide assets, wills can help new parents ensure their children will be taken care of should they pass away unexpectedly before their children become adults.

Famous estates in disarray: lessons to learn from

Imagine a situation where your estate isn't settled by your heirs until 34 years after your death. It sounds like a frustrating and costly situation, and it is exactly what happened to Howard Hughes' estate. Hughes was a business magnate whose estate was valued at $2.5 billion when he died in 1976. Because he lacked an estate plan, the man's estate took 34 years to settle after major legal battles amongst potential heirs.

Unclear estate plan leads to dispute between wife and daughter

One of the most important aspects of proper and effective estate planning in New Jersey is to clearly specify which intended beneficiaries are to inherit specific items. When designations are vague or general, disputes can easily arise, especially when the issue is one that has not yet been decided by a court of law in the particular state.

Possible heir to $300 million Huguette Clark estate dies homeless

About a year ago, we discussed the estate of the reclusive millionaire heiress Huguette Clark. At that time we discussed a problem with her estate. When Clark died, she apparently had two contradictory wills in place. The two wills were drafted within a relatively close period of time, both shortly before Clark's death. The eccentric billionaire died at age 104 in New York.

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