Johnson & Johnson, Attorneys At Law

Florham Park Legal Blog

Review of estate planning can be critical to a second marriage

Second marriages, particularly among people in their later years, are becoming more and more common in New Jersey. As couples embark on a happy period in their later years they are endeavoring to ensure that second spouses are provided for in estate planning should one predecease the other. However, one very important aspect is often overlooked.

Couples are very careful to include each other in their wills thinking that by so doing they are providing for each other in the event of one's death. One area that gets overlooked is that beneficiaries specified in such assets as retirement accounts and insurance policies supersede what is specified in a will. This can have the unfortunate effect of costing the surviving spouse a significant amount of time and money.

The fundamentals of a collaborative divorce

Divorce is frequently a difficult concept for spouses to wrap their brains around. The thought of uncoupling from someone they vowed to love forever is daunting.

The court procedures and mandatory filings in preparation for litigation can make even the most even-keeled person emotional and stressed out. Over the past few years, collaborative divorce has become a new way of getting through the process with less strife and turmoil.

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.

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Johnson & Johnson, Attorneys At Law

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Florham Park, NJ 07932

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