Johnson & Johnson, Attorneys At Law

Florham Park Legal Blog

Social media presence can impact divorce proceedings

Social media currently pervades all aspects of contemporary society. Young people in particular are seemingly posting everything from relationship status, favorite foods, fashion trends, and thoughts and opinions on all of this on some form of social media. Almost everyone has a Facebook account these days as well as Twitter, Instagram and the myriad of others that exist. Is it any wonder that social media posts are beginning to find their way into divorce proceedings in New Jersey?

People have been cautioned for some time regarding social media presence and job applications. Employers frequently look at a person's accounts when considering a hire. Attorney's are now looking to social media accounts for information in divorce cases.

New tax law can impact estate planning

The New Year's celebrations are over in New Jersey and many people's thoughts are turning to tax season. There are many changes as a result of changes in the tax law that may prompt people to review their estate plans and tax strategies. It is a good idea to periodically review estate planning measures to ensure that the plan meets one's goals while lowering the possible tax burden.

One of the biggest changes in the tax law and the one that has the biggest potential impact on estate plans is the change in the amount of the gift tax exemption. Many people, parents and grandparents in particular, enjoy being able to share their wealth with family and see the benefits of it while they are still living. The amount that can now be given as a gift has increased to $11.4 million per person or $22.8 million per couple.

Estate planning and probate -- what is it?

As the new year begins people consider changes that they may wish to make. These changes may involve estate planning, particularly if a life changing event such as a marriage or the birth of a child has occurred. Many terms are thrown around about estate planning, and one that is frequently heard in New Jersey and elsewhere is probate.

Probate is the process that is undertaken to determine the legal owner of an asset when the original owner of the asset has died. If a beneficiary is named and living, on a life insurance or 401(k) policy for example, probate is not required as the ownership of the asset is clearly indicated. Probate assets are those that were owned by the decedent without having a beneficiary named. This does not apply to jointly-owned assets as the surviving joint owner is now the sole owner.

Taking steps to prepare for divorce can smooth the path

Multiple couples from the popular reality TV franchise, including "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," are in the midst of divorces. Some are divorcing because of alleged affairs and others seemingly for irreconcilable differences. The emotional anguish is frequently splashed across the tabloids for all to see. Divorce between noncelebrities in New Jersey can be just as emotional, though hopefully more private.

Before one takes the definitive step of filing for divorce there are issues that should be considered. If there are children involved, is one prepared for the implications of the divorce on their lives? In a shared custody arrangement, each parent will see less of the children than they may be accustomed to and holidays can be made difficult if children are alternating between parents for holidays and vacations.

New estate tax limits impact estate planning

The old year is ending and a new one is about to begin in New Jersey. With the beginning of 2019 comes the implementation of new tax laws that determine how large an estate can be before it is subject to the federal estate tax. The estate and gift tax exemption for 2019 is $11.4 million. To better understand how much this amount has changed, consider that the exemption was $5.49 million as recently as 2017. This change can have an impact on one's estate planning.

If an estate or gift exceeds that amount, it will be taxed at a flat rate of 40 percent. The majority of people have estates that are smaller than the exempted amount, and some may think that the increase in the exemption negates a need for an estate plan.Young professionals may wish to carefully consider the implications of not having an estate plan. In the event of a premature death or serious injury, what would one's final wishes be?

Child Custody issues can be a sticking point in a divorce

Divorce in New Jersey is seldom entered into lightly and can be further complicated if children are involved. Child custody issues can hold up proceedings and cause what can be a lengthy process to be even longer. While couples may come to an agreement on custody issues on their own, there can be advantages to having a legal custody order.

In a contentious divorce, having a judge assist in child custody decisions can help ensure that any agreement will be adhered to. In one prominent example, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie filed for divorce after separating two years ago. The proceedings have been held up by the pair's inability to agree on the issue of child custody regarding their six children. The court exercised the option of employing a custody evaluator, a third party who can offer guidance on custody based on what is best for the children.

Estate planning and information sharing

Dying without a will or trust in place has gotten a lot of attention in recent months and years as several prominent people have died without a will or a trust. Estate planning is vital to ensuring that one's final wishes regarding health care directives, burial plans and so forth are carried out according to one's instructions. It is also important that the people entrusted with carrying out those wishes are aware of the existence and location of the documents in New Jersey.

In the absence of severe illness, few people anticipate an early or sudden death. As unpleasant as it may be to consider, it is a possibility people face every day. As families gather for the holidays, it's a good time to take a few moments to ensure that loved ones are familiar with the existence of such information and its location.

Estate planning can be vital if a person owns a business

Having a will or trust in place can be important for anyone living in New Jersey. Most people have assets or other property they would wish to protect. Estate planning can be particularly important if one is a business owner and has other family members involved in the business.

If a person dies without a valid will, he or she is said to have died intestate. This means that the property of the deceased will be distributed according to the laws of the state. If the person was married, the estate would pass to the surviving spouse unless there are children from a previous marriage or relationship. In that instance, the assets would be split between the children and surviving spouse.

Why talking to parents about estate planning early is critical

Some of the biggest news stories about estate planning are about celebrities with a significant amount of assets that did not sit down with an attorney to discuss who inherits their property. It can become a financial and legal nightmare when the heirs are left to deal with the decedent’s mistakes.

However, it does also serve as a reminder that estate planning must begin at a younger age. You may not have a lot to give right now, but most are not able to predict when they will die. Before you begin planning out potential asset division, you may want to talk to your parents if they are still alive and can think clearly. It could potentially give you some ideas on the direction you want your plan to take while preparing you for your parents’ future in the process.

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Johnson & Johnson, Attorneys At Law

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Florham Park, NJ 07932

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