Wednesday, April 14, 2010

9.4 AVVO Rating!!

Simeone & Bonfrisco is pleased to annouce that Mr. Bonfrisco has received a 9.4 superb rating on! is the world's largest legal directory.Avvo rates and profiles every attorney, so that people can choose the right attorney. Lawyer profiles contain helpful information including a lawyer’s experience, areas of practice, disciplinary history, and ratings from clients. Profile data comes from many sources, including state courts and bar associations, lawyer websites, and information provided by lawyers.

Please join us in congratulating Mr. Bonfrisco on this great accomplishment!
Mr. Bonfrisco's AVVO profile

For more information, or to make an appointment for your free 1 hour consultation, please call our office 856-663-3800 or visit us online,


Thursday, April 8, 2010


SAN DIEGO, CA—The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys is pleased to announce that Michael D. Bonfrisco, Esq. of Simeone & Bonfrisco, has been appointed to the Academy’s national Board of Governors.

In his new capacity, Mr. Bonfrisco will serve as an advisor and help guide the direction of the 110-member organization. He joins six other attorneys from around the country on the prestigious board.

A member of the Academy since 19XX, Mr. Bonfrisco limits his practice in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to estate planning. He regularly presents free public seminars on living trusts and reducing estate taxes. Contact him at: 1522 Route 38 Cherry Hill, NJ 08002, phone (856) 663-3800.

“The Academy recognizes Mr. Bonfrisco’s outstanding professionalism and dedication to the field of estate planning,” explains Robert Armstrong, founder of the Academy. “As a member of the Board of Governors, he will be able to share his knowledge and expertise with the members of the Academy to improve the practice of estate planning across the nation.”

The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys is a national membership organization dedicated to keeping its attorney members up-to-date on the latest estate planning techniques and laws. It also helps attorneys provide expert legal advice and service to their clients.

For more information call our office: 856-663-3800 or visit us online:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Is a Guardianship or Conservatorship?

What Is a Guardianship or Conservatorship and When Is It Necessary?

The purpose of a guardianship or conservatorship is to ensure that continuing care is provided for you if you are unable to take care of yourself or your property. An illness or disability alone is not sufficient reason for guardianship or conservatorship. A guardianship or conservatorship will be imposed only if you are determined to be incapacitated and in need of a guardian or conservator.

The granting of guardianship or conservatorship is done through a Living Probate proceeding. During this public proceeding, testimony is given as to your state of ability and the court. determines whether or not you are incompetent and in need of a guardian and/or conservator.

Although it varies from state to state, Living Probate usually involves these steps:

• Papers are filed in court to declare that you are legally incompetent.

• Interested parties will be notified.

• A notice of the hearing will be published.

• A hearing will take place.

Before appointing a guardian or conservator, the Judge must be persuaded that:

• You are incapacitated;

• You need someone to make personal decisions for you and/or manage your affairs; and

• The proposed guardian or conservator is suitable, willing, and able.

What Is the Difference Between a Guardian and a Conservator?

A guardian is an individual, organization, or State agency appointed by the Probate Court to make decisions on your behalf. Once the court appoints a guardian for you, you are then known as a “ward.”

The Probate Court may give the guardian the authority to make decisions about you, such as:

• Where you will live;

• Whether you go into a facility; and

• What medical treatment you will receive.

A conservator, on the other hand is an individual, corporation, or State agency appointed by the court to protect and manage your money and property. The person under conservatorship is called a "protected person."

Some people are able to make responsible decisions in some but not all areas of their lives. In such situations, a guardianship or conservatorship will be limited by the Probate Court to only those areas in which you do not have the capacity to make responsible decisions.

For example:
• A guardianship could be limited to providing consent for medical treatment; or

• The Probate Court could limit a conservatorship by specifically withholding from a conservator the power to sell certain assets.

The same person can be both guardian and conservator or there may be a different person for each responsibility. Any suitable, willing and able adult or institution, or certain State agencies, may be appointed guardian or conservator. The Probate Court will make the final decision based on your best interests.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Is a Charitable Remainder Trust?

Citizens of the United States are charitable by nature if the statistics mean anything at all. American individuals, estates, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $240.72 billion to charitable causes in 2003, according to Giving USA 2004, a study released by Giving USA Foundation. And the Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) is one of the most popular ways to give to charities. According to the IRS, there are over 115,000 Charitable Remainder Trusts in the United States with assets of over $85 billion.

A Charitable Remainder Trust permits a donor to defer the income tax consequences on the sale of a capital gain property and make a charitable gift. The donor transfers property to the Trust, retaining the right to receive a stream of annual payments for a term chosen by the donor. At the donor’s death, the remaining assets go to the charity, thus the name Charitable Remainder Trust.

The two most common types are Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts (CRATs) and Charitable Remainder Unitrusts (CRUTs).

To schedule your FREE estate planning consultation, please call our office today, 856-663-3800
For additional information, visit our website:

Friday, March 26, 2010


Probate is Latin for “Prove the Will”. The purpose of Probate is to change title from the person who died to those that inherit. In order to Probate an estate certain steps must be taken.

A Will cannot be probated until ten (10) days following the death of the testator.

If you are named the executor (also known as the personal representative) under the Will, then its your duty to manage and distribute the estate pursuant to the testators wishes.

The first step is to probate the Will at the County Surrogate's Court. (The county where the testator was domiciled) To do this you must bring the following with you to the Surrogate's Court:

(1) the original Will (which should not be unstapled or tampered with);

(2) a certified copy of the death certificate (which you obtain from the municipality in which the testator died);

(3) the full names and latest addresses of the closest surviving family and anyone named in the Will; and

(4) a blank check, or a money order for probate fees. You should not fill in the amount of the check until your meeting at Surrogate's Court.

Most Wills drafted in the past 30 years are “self proving”. However, in the rare case where the Will is not "self-proving," then a person who signed the Will as a witness must also come to the Surrogate's Court to authenticate the Will.

A "self-proving" Will is one where the testator and two witnesses sign the Will in front of a Notary Public or New Jersey attorney and the Will contains special language provided in New Jersey law (self-proving affidavits). If a Will is "self-proving," there is no need for a witness to the signing (execution) of the Will to come to the Surrogate's Court to authenticate his or her signature because the Notary Public or New Jersey attorney, before whom the witness signed the Will, effectively attests to the authenticity of the witnesses' signatures.

To schedule your FREE one hour consulation,
please call our office 856-663-3800

For any additional information, please visit our website

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today's NJ Probate Answers

What Is a Family Limited Partnership?

In the past few years, the Family Limited Partnership (FLP) has gained popularity as an asset protection, tax planning, and estate planning vehicle. A Family Limited Partnership is a partnership made up of family members. Typically, the parents are the general partners, controlling the partnership and making all decisions. The limited partners are often children or grandchildren who receive gifts of partnership interests.

General Partnerships

In order to understand an FLP, it is best to first understand a General Partnership. A General Partnership is formed when two or more people intend to work together to carry on a business activity. No local or state filings are required to create this type of partnership. This is different than a corporation, which does not come into existence until Articles of Incorporation have been filed with the Secretary of State.
The distinguishing feature of a General Partnership is the unlimited liability of the partners. Each partner is personally liable for all of the debts of the partnership. That includes any debts incurred by any of the other partners on behalf of the partnership. Because each of the partners has unlimited personal liability, a General Partnership is the single most dangerous form for conducting one’s business. Not only is a partner liable for contracts entered into by other partners, each partner is also liable for the other partner’s negligence.

Limited Partnerships

A General Partnership has potentially harsh consequences for each general partner. One way around the unlimited liability is a type of partnership known as a Limited Partnership. A Limited Partnership consists of one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. The same person can be both a general partner and a limited partner, as long as there are at least two legal persons who are partners in the partnership. The general partner is responsible for the management of the affairs of the partnership, and he has unlimited personal liability for all debts and obligations.
Limited partners have no personal liability. The limited partner stands to lose only the amount which he has contributed and any amounts which he has obligated himself to contribute under the terms of the partnership agreement. The Family Limited Partnership (FLP) is one such Limited Partnership.

For more information, please call our office
856-663-3800 for your FREE estate planning consultation
or visit us


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Is the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion?

What Is the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion?

Gifting money can be a very effective way to transfer substantial amounts from your estate, free from gift and estate taxes, to your children or other loved ones. This technique of estate tax planning can drastically reduce your taxable estate after your death, and could thereby reduce your associated estate taxes.

The Federal Government levies taxes on what they call “gratuitous transfers of assets.” These are financial gifts in the form of money, stocks, bonds, property, or anything else you wish to give. The gift tax can eat away your at your estate. In 2007 through 2009, you can make a lifetime gift up to $1 million without gift tax. After that, 45 percent of each dollar gifted goes in tax. In 2010, the rate is the same as the top income tax rate. After 2010, the tax effectively starts at 37 percent and goes up in increments to 55 percent.

Luckily, there are certain exceptions to the gift tax as outlined in Section 2503(b) of the IRS tax code. One such exception is the annual gift tax exclusion. This is an amount that can be given away annually without resulting in gift tax on the transfer. This gift exclusion renews every year and is in addition to the $1 million lifetime exclusion. As easy as this may sound, there are certain criteria you have to meet in order for your gift to qualify as an exclusion, and there are even exceptions to the exception!

Let’s take a look at the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion as well as some exceptions to the rule.

Give a Gift of $12,000

In the year 2007, the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion amount is $12,000 per recipient. There is no limit on the number of recipients to which qualifying gifts can be made. The key word here is qualifying. That’s right! Not every gift will qualify for the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion.

The IRS does not consider a gift to be qualified unless the person receiving the gift possesses a “present interest,” an immediate ownership, in the asset. This means that, in general, transfers in Trust are not considered present interests, but future interests.

The unlimited marital deduction is an entirely different kind of gifting that allows spouses to give their property to their spouse without incurring any gift taxes. This is not true, however, if the spouse is a not a U.S. citizen. In this case, the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion kicks in, but has a much higher value of $125,000.

Gift-Splitting By Married Taxpayers

If the donor of the gift is married, gifts made during a year can be treated as a "split" between the husband and wife, even if the cash or gift property is actually given by only one of them. By gift-splitting, therefore, up to $24,000 a year can be transferred to each recipient by a married couple because their two annual exclusions are available.

Where gift-splitting is involved, both spouses must consent to it. Consent should be indicated on the gift tax return(s) the spouses file. The IRS prefers that both spouses indicate their consent on each return filed. Since more than $12,000 is being transferred by a spouse, a gift tax return will have to be filed, even if the $24,000 exclusion covers the gifts. So, be aware that if you elect gift-splitting, you'll need to file IRS Form 709 gift tax return.

Giving to Minors

Oftentimes, when you choose to gift to a minor, you want to delay access to the gift but still receive the annual gift tax exclusion. Although typically, you have to give a present interest, there are approved vehicles for providing future interest. One such vehicle is the “Section 2503(c) Trust for Minors.”

In order for a gift to qualify under this Trust:

1. The money and interest in the Trust can be spent on the minor by the Trustee before the minor reaches the age of 21.

2. Any assets not spent by the time the minor turns 21 must be turned over to the minor.

3. If the minor dies before the age of 21, the assets in Trust must become part of the minor’s estate.

Another gifting strategy for minors is to establish a custodial account under the Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) or the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA). Using this strategy, assets are placed in a custodian’s name for the benefit of a minor. This custodianship ends when the child reaches adulthood, at which time the custodian must give all the property to the child. Once again, if the minor dies before reaching adulthood, the assets will be placed in the child’s estate.

Another method is using a standard Irrevocable Trust, like a Life Insurance Trust, and give the beneficiary the right to withdraw the money for a period of 30 days. This “Crummey” power, named after the case approving its use, converts the future interest into a present interest.

Even with these different gifting strategies for minors, you are still only able to gift $12,000 per year per recipient. You can arrange for larger gifts by providing monies used for tuition, health care, and charities.

For more information, please visit our website

Or to make an appointment for a FREE consultation, please call our office 856-663-3800.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Do I Know If My Estate Has Enough Liquidity?

What Is Estate Liquidity and Why Do I Need It?

Estate liquidity refers to the ability of your estate to pay taxes and other costs that arise after your death using cash and cash equivalents. If your property is mostly non-liquid (e.g., real estate, business interests), your estate may be forced to sell assets to meet its obligations as they become due.
Estates are often cash poor. Unless sufficient liquidity has been provided, the forced sale of non-liquid assets to pay settlement costs can compound estate shrinkage. In these situations, the buyer always has the upper hand. But even people of modest means who never considered themselves rich enough to need much estate planning can be in for a shock. In addition to having to settle-up with Uncle Sam and state tax collectors, creditors must be paid in full before a taxpayer's heirs can receive their inheritances.

Liquidity planning is part of estate planning. There are generally three ways to deal with the liquidity issue:
1. Reduce taxes by fully using the $2 million Applicable Exclusion Amount at death (for the year 2007), making annual gifts, and using planning techniques such as GRATs and QPRTs.

2. Reduce expenses by avoiding Probate and using a Living Trust.

3. Increase the cash and liquidity of the estate through conversion of assets and the use of life insurance.

Let’s look briefly at all of these techniques.

Reducing Taxes Through the Applicable Exclusion Amount and Gifting

You can give assets with unlimited values to your spouse, as long as your spouse is a U.S. citizen, and to qualified charities. Gifts totaling up to $12,000 (in the year 2007) can be made to any number of individuals in each calendar year. Gifts that do not qualify for the marital deduction, charitable deduction, or $12,000 annual exclusion are taxable gifts, but no gift tax has to be paid until your cumulative lifetime gifts exceed the "applicable exclusion."

Upon death, your Gross Estate includes the current fair market value of all property interests held by you at the time of your death. There are deductions for debts, administrative expenses, qualified transfers to spouses, and transfers to qualified charities. The net amount is the taxable estate. To the extent the applicable exclusion has not been utilized for lifetime gifts, it will be applied to the taxable estate. The applicable exclusion amount for 2007 is $1 million in gift tax and $2 million in estate tax.

The way to reduce taxes is to use the applicable exclusion amount to its fullest while still applying the unlimited marital deduction. Simply leaving your assets to your spouse will create a higher tax burden since your applicable exclusion amount will be forfeited. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you determine the best way to minimize taxes using the applicable exclusion amount.

Reducing Taxes Using a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust

A Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) is a tax-saving Irrevocable Trust in which you transfer property to a Trust, but receive a fixed income stream until termination, at which time the Trust’s remainder beneficiaries receive the assets. A GRAT is used to reduce gift taxes on the transfer of assets to the next generation. It is best used with highly-appreciating assets, including closely-held stock.

The value of the gift is determined when the Trust is funded, so any appreciation of the assets passes gift tax-free to the remainder beneficiaries. However, the funding of the GRAT is a taxable gift from you.

The principal advantages of a GRAT include:

• The appreciation of the assets is moved out of the estate and avoids gift tax.

• Gift taxes are greatly reduced.

• Compared with a direct gift, you maintain control of the assets for a longer period.

• You maintain some or all of the income from the transferred assets for the term of the GRAT.

• So long as you survive the term of the GRAT, the assets used to fund the GRAT are not taxed in your estate upon your subsequent death.

Two cautions apply to a GRAT, however:

1. If you die during the Trust term, all or most of the Trust assets would be included in your estate. Therefore, the Trust term must be carefully selected to provide a great likelihood that you will outlive the term of the Trust.

2. You will lose the economic benefit of the assets during some portion of your remaining lifetime.

Reducing Taxes Using a Qualified Personal Residence Trust

Your residence is probably your most important asset. Traditionally, the home has been a good financial investment. It has been an investment that has risen steadily over the past several decades with less volatility than the stock market. The home also has important attributes from tax, estate planning, and asset protection perspectives. Your home can enable you to do advanced estate planning such as a Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT).

With a QPRT, you can make a gift of an interest in the home to your children. If your home grows in value faster than the interest rate assumed by the IRS, the additional growth is passed without any tax. During the term of the QPRT, you can continue to live in the home.

A QPRT is an Irrevocable Trust that allows you to retain the exclusive use of the residence for a term of years selected by you. If you survive the term of the Trust, the QPRT terminates and the residence is either retained in further Trust for, or distributed to, one or more third-party beneficiaries, such as your children or grandchildren.

The QPRT has no income tax consequences during the term of the Trust. You may still use the principal residence capital gain exclusion and deduct mortgage interest and property taxes. During the term of the Trust, you may sell the house and purchase a replacement residence. If the residence sold is not replaced, the QPRT pays an annuity to you.

The "catch" is that after the term of the Trust, you will no longer have the right to live in the residence. At this point, the beneficiaries could lease the residence for fair rental value to you.

For more information, or to register for a FREE estate planning seminar,
please visit our website:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

What Is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust?

An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) is an estate planning technique, often used to ensure that life insurance proceeds will not be subject to federal estate tax. The ILIT is used to hold a life insurance policy or policies outside of an estate.

If you own a life insurance policy, the Internal Revenue Service will add the amount of the life insurance benefit to the amount of your taxable estate and calculate the tax based upon that value. This may seem unfair since the death benefit is usually not paid to your estate, but to someone else instead.

The ILIT, if properly prepared, creates a separate legal entity from your estate. Since the life insurance will be part of the ILIT and not part of your estate, it will not be subject to estate tax.

Why Should I Consider Having an ILIT?

You should consider having an ILIT if you meet either of these two conditions:

1. The value of everything you own (called your "estate"), including the death benefit of your life insurance policies, will be over $2 million at the time of your death if you are single, or over $4 million at the time of your death if you are married and if you have a Revocable Living Trust; or

2. Your estate consists of a business or other substantial assets that cannot be easily liquidated (converted to cash). If the size of your estate is over a certain amount, there may be taxes that must be paid to the IRS. The IRS wants payment in cash. If your estate does not include sufficient cash to pay the taxes, something will have to be liquidated (sold). An ILIT holding sufficient amounts of life insurance will provide the cash needed to pay estate taxes and the expenses of administering your estate.

How Does an ILIT Work?

To work, an ILIT must involve the creation of an Irrevocable Trust. This means that a Trust is created, and the Trust cannot be revoked, modified or changed after it is created. Thoughtful care and planning must go into the creation of such a Trust.

Additionally, neither you nor your spouse (if also an insured) can serve as Trustee. In order to exclude the ILIT from your estate, you may not have any "incidents of ownership." After the Trust is created, you cannot control it. Trustees are most often the beneficiaries of the Trust or a financial advisor.

The Trust can be created so that life insurance is obtained with a single premium, or with premiums paid over a period of time. If premiums are paid over a period of time, a special method is used to fund the ILIT. Using a Crummey power, money is gifted to the Trustee who in turn pays the insurance company. Whenever a gift is made, the Trustee must send a special letter, called a "Crummey Letter," to the beneficiaries of the Trust letting them know that they have the opportunity to remove their portion of the gift within a specified period of time. When they don’t exercise their option, your Trustee will use the money to pay your insurance premium.

Benefits of an ILIT

Even with a Revocable Living Trust, an estate over $2 million ($4 million for couples) will face federal estate taxes at rates of 45 percent in 2007. If you own a life insurance policy, the proceeds will be added to your taxable estate upon death, subject to federal estate taxes.

At convenient annual intervals, you will transfer money to the ILIT for the Trustee to use to pay the insurance premiums. Ordinarily this money would be subject to gift taxes, but if the beneficiaries of the ILIT have real access to these funds, the transfer will qualify for the $12,000 annual gift tax exclusion. When the benefits of the ILIT are explained, beneficiaries almost never demand disbursement.

Upon your death, the policy proceeds are paid to the ILIT, and are not a part of your estate. The funds can be used to increase the liquidity in the estate by purchasing estate assets for cash, they can be "loaned" to the estate to pay off liabilities, they can be held in Trust for the beneficiaries, or they can be distributed pursuant to the terms of the ILIT.

The ILIT provides you control over how proceeds from your life insurance policy are spent. With the ILIT, you control who receives the proceeds, and how they receive it. Whatever distribution strategy makes most sense for you and your loved ones, the ILIT gives you the opportunity to put it into effect.

Since the cash value of the insurance policy is held by the ILIT, it is typically out of reach of your creditors.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Attend a FREE Estate Planning Seminar!

The presentation establishes the necessary components of an effective estate plan. Attorney Michael Bonfrisco does an outstanding job in presenting a case study profiling the life of Bill and Mary Jones. Several scenarios are used to relay the impact of estate planning issues relating to probate, disability due to incompetence, protection of government benefits for special needs loved ones, second marriages, unmarried couples, minimization of federal estate tax and preserving the family legacy. Wills, living trusts, powers of attorney and health care directives are all represented in the presentation. At its conclusion, the audience will have a clear understanding of their estate planning options and be equipped to make the choices needed for themselves and their loved ones. You won't want to miss this seminar - it's informative and easy-to-understand!

Tuesday,  March 9th, 2010
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Cherry Hill Public Library
Cherry Hill, NJ

Thursday, March 11th, 2010
2:00pm – 4:00pm
The Mansion on Main Street
Voorhees, NJ

Saturday, March 13th, 2010
10:00am – 12:00pm
The Moorestown Community House
Moorestown, NJ

Seats are filling up quickly, so please register today! You can reserve your seat by calling our office, (856) 663-3800 or register online at

Please feel free to invite a friend or family member!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

Will Versus Living Trust: Which Is Best For You?

Both Wills and Trusts are devices that you can use to provide for the distribution of your estate upon your death. Deciding whether a Will or a Trust best fits your needs depends on your circumstances. A Living Trust is a popular alternative to the traditional Will, but you should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each before deciding on one form or the other.

Let’s take a look at both the Will and the Living Trust. By looking at what each does, you will be able to determine, with the help of an estate planning attorney, which instrument would be best for you. Keep in mind that often a person has both a Will and a Living Trust.


 • Subject to Probate proceedings.
 • Out-of-state property requires Probate proceedings in that state, as well.
 • Provides court supervision for handling beneficiary challenges and creditor disputes.
 • Becomes public record at the time of your death.

Living Trust:
 • Not subject to Probate proceedings.
 • Avoids the cost of a second-state Probate proceeding where there is out-of-state property.
 • No automatic court supervision to deal with disputes.
 • Remains private.

Tax Savings:

 • Same tax-saving provisions available as are available in a Trust.

Living Trust:
 • Same tax-saving provisions available as are available in a Will.

Management of Your Assets

 • In addition to the Will, must use a Power of Attorney or Conservatorship to manage assets during your life.

Living Trust:
 • Allows you as the grantor to manage the Trust assets as long as you are willing and able.
 • Makes provisions for a Successor Trustee to take over in your place.


• Many attorneys charge less to prepare a Will than a Trust. But the cost to Probate a Will can be substantial.

Living Trust:
• Many attorneys charge more to prepare, fund, and manage a Trust than to prepare a Will. But avoids Probate costs if all assets were held by the Trust.

Don’t leave matters to chance and fail to draw a Will or create a Trust. If you do, a greater than necessary amount of your assets may go to state and federal governments in taxes, and your remaining assets may go to individuals other than those loved ones whom you would prefer to benefit. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: not making out a Will or Living Trust can be a big mistake.

Attend a FREE Estate Planning Seminar!  
March 9-13th in the South Jersey area.

Seats are filling up quickly, so please call our office to register, (856) 663-3800.

Please visit our website for more information:


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

Do All Estate Planning Attorneys Offer Wills?

How Would I Know If a Will Is More Appropriate Than a Living Trust? Are There Specific Questions I Should Be Asking?

On the financial side, a good estate plan coordinates what will happen with your home, your investments, your business, your life insurance, your employee benefits (such as a 401(k) plan), and other property in the event you become disabled or die. On the personal side, a good estate plan includes directions to carry out your wishes regarding health care matters. So, if you ever are unable to give the directions yourself, someone you select would do that for you, and know when you would want them to authorize heroic measures and when you would prefer they pull the plug.

Several of the following documents are typically used as part of the estate planning process:

• A Will, sometimes called a Last Will and Testament, to transfer property you hold in your name to the person(s) and/or organization(s) you want to have it. A Will also typically names someone you select to be your Personal Representative (or Executor) to carry out your instructions and names a guardian if you have minor children. A Will only takes effect upon your death.

• A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care appoints a person you designate to make decisions regarding your health care treatment in the event that you are unable to provide informed consent.

• A Living Will or Directive to Physicians is an advance directive that gives doctors and hospitals your instructions regarding the nature and extent of the care you want should you suffer permanent incapacity, such as an irreversible coma.

• A Durable Power of Attorney appoints a person you designate to act for you and handle financial matters should you be unable or perhaps unavailable to do so.

• A Living Trust can be used to hold legal title to and provide a mechanism to manage your property. You can select the person or persons you want as the Trustee(s) to carry out the instructions you want in the Trust and name one or more Successor Trustees to take over if you cannot. Unlike a Will, a Trust usually becomes effective immediately, continues in force during your lifetime even in the event of your incapacity, and continues after your death. Trusts also help you avoid or minimize the expenses, delays, and publicity of Probate.

• A Family Limited Partnership can be used to own and manage your property, in a similar manner to a Trust, but allowing additional tax planning techniques to be employed.

Since a Will is part of a good estate plan, a qualified estate planning attorney will have the ability to write a Will for you.

For more information, please visit our website:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

When it comes to a Trustee, who should you choose?

While it seems natural to choose a family member or close friend to settle your estate, your selection of a Successor Trustee can make a difference in how fast your estate is distributed and can affect family relationships for years to come.

• If your Successor Trustee has no bookkeeping experience and knows nothing about finance, settling your estate can take longer and result in higher attorney’s fees.

• Naming a family member as Successor Trustee can also place him or her in the delicate position of arbitrating disputes between other family members about the distribution of personal property.

Sometimes a family member is not the right choice. For instance, friction can occur if one sibling is serving as a Trustee over another sibling, or a stepparent serving as a Trustee for his or her stepchildren. In cases like these, or where friction already exists, you may want to consider a Corporate Trustee. Since a Corporate Trustee has experience administering Trusts and managing assets, they can be unbiased when friction occurs.

The other possibility is to choose a family member or friend to be a Co-Trustee with a bank or corporate entity. The individual Trustee knows the family dynamics and the beneficiaries on a personal level. The bank is unbiased and is not embroiled in the family politics.

A carefully chosen Trustee is critical to implementing your estate plan. An attorney who specializes in estate planning and who is sensitive to your family’s issues can help you design a plan and select a Trustee to achieve your goals.

For more information, please visit our website:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

What Happens to a Revocable Living Trust When One Spouse Dies?
Thinking about a Trust at the death of a spouse can be a very difficult prospect during a very emotional time. Nonetheless, the death of a spouse can bring about complex financial issues that must be addressed. Although administering the Trust may appear daunting, there is a process to follow, as well as resources to help you along the way.

The First Steps After the Death of a Spouse

The first step is to call your estate planning attorney. They have helped you create your Trust and can help you understand your duties as you administer that Trust. If you are no longer in touch with the attorney that planned the Trust, then be sure to find an “experienced” estate planning attorney to help you. Plan a meeting with this attorney two to three weeks after the death of your spouse.

The next thing you will need to do is find the Trust documents. This can result in a frustrating search, especially if your spouse was not organized or did not let you know where he/she kept important papers. This is where pre-planning comes in handy. Knowing beforehand where such important papers are kept will help things run more smoothly.
Once you have located the Trust papers, you will need to gather all the financial information about the assets. This includes:
• Deeds

• Bank Statements

• Brokerage Statements

• Tax Returns for the last three years

• Titles

• Other records of ownership

While gathering this information, be sure that you do not change the title of any assets. This will create undue problems for you.
Finally, you will need to attend the meeting with your estate planning lawyer. During this meeting, the attorney will help you understand the legal and tax requirements and let you know the terms of the Trust that you will need to follow.

If you, as the Trustee, are slow in acting, others may take advantage of the situation. For instance, someone may take possession of items in the deceased’s home or take other actions that make it difficult to carry out the terms of the Trust. Although the death of a loved one is sad, it would be sadder still to know that your loved one’s last requests could not be honored. As a Trustee, it is imperative that you act swiftly.\

Stages of Trust Administration

Once you have met with the attorney, you must then begin your Trust Administration duties. These include:
• Taking an inventory of assets

• Determining estate tax

• Dividing Trust assets

• Filing tax forms

• Distributing assets to beneficiaries

Taking an Inventory of Assets

The very first task as Trustee is to take inventory of the assets of the Trust. This is more than just making a list. It also includes listing the ownership of each asset as well as the date-of-death valuation. Knowing the ownership of each asset will ensure that all assets that are supposed to be in the Trust are indeed owned by the Trust. Knowing the valuation of the assets will have important tax implications. Your estate planning attorney can recommend the right professionals to help you obtain the correct asset valuations.

Determining Estate Tax

There will be no estate tax due after the death of the first spouse due to the unlimited marital deduction. However, after the death of a surviving spouse or a single individual, estate taxes become very important.

Any assets over $3.5 million in 2009 will be taxed at 45 percent and must be paid within nine months of the date of death using IRS Form 706. Once again, a qualified estate planning attorney will help you determine which assets will be subject to the estate tax.

Dividing Trust Assets

It is the job of the Trustee to split the assets from the Joint Trust into two or three different Trusts. These Trusts include the Survivor’s Trust, the Family Trust, and potentially the Marital Trust.

The Survivor’s Trust is exactly what it sounds like – a Trust that holds the surviving spouse’s assets. These are assets that were once held jointly in the Joint Trust.

The deceased spouse’s assets are either put completely into a Family Trust, or split between a Family Trust and a Marital Trust. The Family Trust will no longer be considered part of the surviving spouse’s estate upon death. The purpose of this Trust is to keep assets out of the surviving spouse’s estate while still providing income to the surviving spouse.
It is very important that the Trustee properly fund these Trusts. If assets are not transferred correctly, they will be considered part of the estate and subject to Probate.

Filing Tax Forms

In addition to income tax returns for the deceased for the year of his or her death, it may also be necessary to file IRS Form 706 to declare any estate taxes due. Additionally, Form 1041 is due annually for the Trust in every year after the death of the original Trustor. Not filing these forms on time can result in penalties and interest due.

Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries

As a Trustee, you do not determine how the Trust’s assets will be distributed. Instead, you merely carry out the terms of the Trust. Once bills and taxes are paid and all assets have been accounted for, the Trustee will then pay out any assets due to beneficiaries. This process usually takes four to six weeks – far faster than the nine or more months needed to go through Probate.

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Trust Administration Process

Should I expect a cost when one spouse dies?

Whenever a Trust changes, there will be a fee involved. The fee will vary from situation to situation depending upon the type of assets and the complexity of the Trust. Typically, this fee will be significantly less than Probate would have been.

What happens if I am single when I die?

Your Successor Trustee will follow the same steps that would be followed if you had a living spouse at the time of your death. The only difference is that the Trust will not be split into a Survivor’s Trust or a Marital Trust.

The death of a loved one is a trying and emotional time. Yet, it is necessary as the Successor Trustee to administer the Trust the decedent left behind. By following the steps laid out in this chapter and working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you will be able to carry out the wishes of the deceased individual.

For more information, please visit our website:


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

What Is a Special Needs Trust?

It is common knowledge that government programs, in the form of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, are very important for people with disabilities. These programs provide cash benefits as well as important medical coverage and long-term supports and services. The income level and financial resources of an individual with a disability, or family who is applying on behalf of their child with a disability, must not exceed a certain level in order to qualify for these government benefits. Benefit recipients are allowed to retain only a total of $2,000 in assets, with some exceptions. A person with a disability receiving SSI, who accumulates more than $2,000 in cash resources, may lose SSI and, possibly, Medicaid.

However, government cash benefits provide only for the bare necessities: food, shelter, and clothing. They amount to less than a federal poverty level income. As we all know, there are more things and activities beyond these basics that add quality to life. For a parent planning for the future of their child with special needs, this poses a problem. When parents are able to care for their child, they provide the extras beyond the bare necessities to make their child’s life comfortable. But who will provide those resources when they are not there to do so?

If parents leave any assets to their child who is receiving government benefits, they run the risk of disqualifying the child from receiving government benefits. If they leave assets to another family member or other person for the care of the child, they open other avenues of risk where the child might not get the benefit of those assets, such as divorce, bankruptcy, lawsuits, and financial mismanagement.

Fortunately, the government established rules allowing assets to be held in Trust for a recipient of SSI and Medicaid, as long as certain parameters are met.

How Is a Special Needs Trust Used?

These Trusts, called Supplemental Needs or Special Needs Trusts (SNTs), preserve government benefit eligibility and leave assets that will meet the supplemental needs of the person with a disability. The SNT must be designed specifically to supplement, not supplant, government benefits. Money from the Trust cannot be distributed directly to the person with a disability. Instead, it must be distributed to third-parties to pay for goods and services to be used by the person with a disability.

The SNT can be used for various expenditures such as:

• Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses

• Eyeglasses

• Annual independent check-ups

• Transportation (including vehicle purchase)

• Maintenance of vehicles

• Insurance (including payment of premiums)

• Rehabilitation

• Essential dietary needs

• Purchase materials for a hobby or recreational activity

• Purchase a computer or electronic equipment

• Pay for trips or vacations, pay for entertainment like going to a movie, a ballgame, concert, etc.

• Purchase of goods and services that add pleasure and quality to life: videos, furniture, or a television

• Athletic training or competitions

• Personal care attendant or escort

• Plus other qualified expenditures

When and How Should an SNT Be Set Up?

Parents may consider setting up an SNT when they begin their future planning activities such as drawing up their Wills. If their child with a disability will likely have long-term medical or support needs, the SNT can be a vehicle to supply the funding to provide lifetime quality care. Even if the child’s future prognosis is unclear, it is never too early to put plans in place for contingencies such as the parents’ sudden death or disability.

The laws governing Trusts are complex and are subject to changes in legislation that may vary by state and which could affect a person’s eligibility for the government benefits upon which they depend. New laws have considerably tightened the eligibility criteria for receiving government benefits and thus have affected many aspects of the way SNTs are drawn up. These regulations are complex and require a strong knowledge of the current legislation and how it impacts people planning for their child with special needs in order to preserve eligibility. Setting up a Special Needs Trust requires coordinated planning with an attorney knowledgeable in special needs planning who can draft a Will and necessary Trust documents.

When a parent or grandparent dies, additional assets can be distributed, under a Will or Trust, to the SNT. A percentage of shares in an estate can be left to a child’s SNT. Funding can come from discretionary contributions while parents are alive, Probate distributions, a Living Trust, life insurance, pension plan, or other sources. Therefore, the individual with a disability does not have to be left out of a Will, but should have their share of inheritance directed to his or her SNT. In the case of a life insurance policy, pension plan, or other source that would go to a beneficiary on death, the child’s SNT should be the beneficiary.

For more information, please visit our website:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

What Happens If the Tax Law Changes? Is My Trust Still Valid?

Tax laws come and go. In fact, they seem to be ever-changing. For example, let’s take a quick look at The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Instead of providing a specific estate tax exemption, it created different exemptions for each year. In 2007 through 2008, this exemption is $2 million. In 2009, it will be $3.5 million. And in 2010, everything you have will be exempt from estate taxes. It also created different estate tax rates each year ranging from 45 to 55 percent. And finally, if the law is not changed before 2010, it will revert back to the old law with an exemption of only $1 million!

What does all this mean? Further changes in the rules are almost a certainty!

Do all of these changes make your Trust invalid? No! However, amendments to the Trust may be needed to comply with the new laws or may be needed to make sure you get the most benefit from the new laws.

Changes You May Need to Make With Changing Tax Laws

Just a few years ago, the estate tax exemption was only $600,000. Since that was the figure for many years, estate plans established Bypass Trusts specifically referring to the $600,000 exemption. In 2009, the exemption will rise to $3.5 million. A typical Living Trust calls for the exemption amount to be placed (at death) into Trust for the surviving spouse and children, with the balance left outright to the spouse or in a separate “Marital Trust.” With the exemption amount rising, your entire estate could end up in the Trust, even if this is not what you intended and even if it does not achieve the intended tax results.

Make sure your Living Trust is flexible on that point, allowing for the annual increases based on a percentage of the estate and not a specified amount. Or the surviving spouse can be given the right to decide how much to place into the Trust using the “disclaimer” technique.

The “Disclaimer Trust” technique allows the surviving spouse to decide how much to place into the Credit Shelter Trust within nine months after the other spouse dies. The decision can be made based on the tax law as it exists at that time.

The “QTIP Trust” offers another potential solution to the changing estate tax laws: it permits the Executor to decide how much of the first decedent’s exemption to apply to the Marital Trust, of which the surviving spouse is sole beneficiary for life.

If you and your spouse have large estates, you could have the opposite problem of a Living Trust document that does not stipulate that the Credit Shelter Trust will be funded with the larger exemption amount that will take effect in 2009. In this case, adjustments would be needed to take full advantage of the increased exemption amount.

Even if you don’t have a Bypass Trust arrangement (for example, because you're unmarried), the larger exemption amount that will take effect in 2009 is a good reason to revisit your estate plan. For instance, an increased exemption means you could leave more directly to loved ones and less to charity without any federal estate tax bill.

For more information, please visit our website:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

Who Is the Trustee of My Living Trust?
Many Trusts written today are “Self Trusteed” meaning the grantor of the Trust acts as Trustee. While you are alive and competent, you can serve as Trustee. If desired, your spouse can serve with you. However, who should serve as Trustee upon your death or incapacity if your spouse is not available?

Choosing a Trustee can be tough. A dependable grown child will see to your welfare, but may not be qualified or have the best business judgment. A business associate might manage your money well, but you may not trust him with family relationships. A bank has investment experience, is dependable, and will handle the paperwork, but it’s not cheap.

What Do Trustees Do?

The Trustee has the responsibility of managing the Trust assets. Ideally, the Trustee should be someone who can keep records and follow the instructions of the Trust document. While the Trustee need not be a financial genius, the Trustee should know his or her own limits and be able to select appropriate advisors.

Here is just a partial list of what a Trustee may need to do when managing your estate:

• Assumes legal responsibility for the proper administration of the Trust

• Investigates claims against the Trust and opposes invalid claims in court

• Seeks legal counsel when needed

• Establishes bookkeeping procedures

• Inventories and changes titles of assets

• Pays bills

• Performs ongoing accounting

• Submits records for independent audit

• Reviews assets regularly for quality and performance

• Makes timely and thoughtful adjustments to the portfolio

• Promptly collects all assets and related income

• Tracks dividend notices, bond calls, and maturities

• Maintains detailed records of all assets and transactions

• Documents asset acquisition dates, cost basis, and adjustments

• Keeps records of taxable income

• Files annual Trust tax returns

• Furnishes information for beneficiary tax returns

• Communicates regularly with beneficiaries

• Distributes principal

• Arranges for the security, insurance, and maintenance of personal residences and other real estate

• Facilitates transfer of property to beneficiaries or new owners

• Makes sure that the requirements of the courts and taxing authorities are met

• Prepares federal estate tax, final income tax, gift tax, and generation skipping tax returns as required

• Investigates and discharges obligations to creditors

• Determines final distributions in keeping with the Trust agreement

• Arranges final transfer of assets

For more information about Estate Planning or Probate, please visit our website:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

Does a Revocable Living Trust Provide Asset Protection, Creditor Protection, or Divorce Protection?

Asset Protection and the Revocable Living Trust

The objective of asset protection planning is not to avoid paying legitimate creditors. On the contrary, good asset protection planning assumes you, the target of the litigation (referred to as the “debtor”), will pay all just debts and not attempt to use asset protection planning to unfair advantage.

Instead, the object of asset protection planning is lowering your asset profile. This is done to discourage frivolous lawsuits as well as thwart identity theft, phishing (being tricked into giving someone confidential information), pharming (being redirected to a criminal’s website rather than a legitimate one), and similar criminal schemes by keeping the assets out of your own name.

By transferring assets into a Revocable Living Trust, the assets are no longer held or reported in your name and thus it is much more difficult for criminals to find or access either the account information or the assets themselves. Thus, even if your identity is compromised and accounts accessed, the assets held in Trust should be unaffected and thus available for transfer to your new accounts to pay bills, etc., while the identify theft matter is being resolved.

In this way, a Revocable Living Trust can provide you with some degree of privacy and thus keep criminals from stealing your assets via identity theft or other similar schemes. However, a Revocable Living Trust cannot keep a creditor from getting to your assets. It does make it more difficult for creditors to access these assets; before doing so, the creditor must petition a court for a charging order to enable the creditor to get to the assets held in the Trust. But, if you get sued and lose, a court can order you to revoke the Trust and pay the creditor.

The Trust can be created to provide creditor protection to the beneficiaries of your Revocable Living Trust. Since a Revocable Trust becomes irrevocable upon the death of the grantor, an "anti-alienation clause" or “spendthrift clause” protects the assets held in the Trust from being used as collateral by the Trust beneficiaries. While the assets are held in the Trust, the beneficiaries do not have control over the property, and any distributions are subject to the Trustee's discretion. Depending on the terms of the Trust, creditors cannot force a Trustee to make a distribution to the Trust beneficiaries; thus the assets held in a Trust can remain outside the reach of the beneficiaries' creditors (until distributed into the hands of the beneficiary).

For more information please visit our website,


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

Will I Still Have Control Over My Property If I Establish a Revocable Living Trust?

A Revocable Living Trust is one of the most flexible estate planning tools available. It can be the foundation on which an individual's financial and estate plans are built. It offers many benefits and gives you control over the management and distribution of your assets during your lifetime and after your death.

What Is a Revocable Living Trust?

A Trust is a legal entity that owns assets. It involves an agreement between you, as grantor, a Trustee, and beneficiaries. When you set up a Revocable Living Trust, you transfer assets to a Trustee to be held for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The Trustee invests, manages, and/or distributes the Trust's assets based on the grantor's instructions as set forth in the Trust document. The Trustee can be an individual or an institution such as a trust company or bank.
Often, you name yourself the beneficiary for your lifetime. By including testamentary provisions, the Trust can continue after your lifetime for the benefit of your spouse and/or children. This also helps to avoid the cost, time, and unwanted publicity of the Probate process.

How Does a Revocable Living Trust Give You Control?

You can be the grantor, trustee, and beneficiary of the Trust during your lifetime. By assuming all three roles, you maintain control over your assets during your lifetime. Not only that, but you, as the grantor, reserve the right in the Trust document to amend or revoke the Trust at any time during your lifetime. This enables you to revise the Trust (or even terminate the Trust) to take into account any change of circumstances such as marriage, divorce, death, disability or even a "change of mind." It also affords you the peace of mind that you can "undo" what you have done.

To fund your Revocable Living Trust, you will need to re-title assets to transfer them into the Trust. You do that by changing the name on assets to the name of the Trustee and re-registering securities into the Trustee's name. All current and future assets, such as bank accounts, titles, deeds, stocks, and mutual funds, should be in the Trustee's name, as Trustee, for the benefit of the Trust. Some assets, such as IRAs and Qualified plans, should not be transferred into the Trust, however, the Trust may be named as a beneficiary of those plans. It is important to speak with your Estate Planning Attorney, and tax advisor regarding re-titling of assets and proper beneficiary designations.

Once this is done, legally, you no longer own any of the assets in your Revocable Living Trust in your individual name. The Trustee, perhaps you, own them in the capacity as Trustee of the Trust. Your Trust now owns your assets. But, as the Trustee, you maintain complete control. While you are alive and mentally competent, you have complete control over your property. You can buy, sell, improve, spend, change investments, or give away property just as you would without a Trust.
Upon your death, the Trust becomes irrevocable so that no one can change your testamentary wishes. For married couples, the surviving spouse still has total control over his or her share of property after its transfer to the survivor’s Trust, and the Trust becomes irrevocable only as to the deceased spouse’s share.

For more information regarding Trusts or Probate, please visit our website,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today's Probate Answers

What Is a Living Will?

What a Living Will States

A Living Will is a document in which you give directions regarding life sustaining treatment should you become unable to communicate your wishes. A Living Will is also called an Advance Health Directive, an Advance Health Care Directive, or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

As long as you are mentally competent, you can be consulted about desired treatment. When you have lost the capacity to communicate, however, the situation is different and a Living Will can direct someone you have appointed to follow your instructions. This document states:

• Whom you appointed to make health care decisions for you should you be unable to do so. The person chosen is known as the “Agent” and you are known as the “Principal.”

• Specific directives as to the course of treatment that is to be taken by caregivers if you become incapacitated. This can also include treatments that you forbid. You should realize that if you do not express your views, treatment to maintain your life, by whatever means available, would probably be provided once you are no longer able to communicate, even if family members object. Therefore, if there are conditions under which you would not want treatment, it is important that you communicate your wishes while you are able to do so.

For more information, regarding PROBATE or Estate Planning, please visit our website:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Everything you need to know about estate planning in New Jersey!

Recently published!

SMART ESTATE PLANNING IN NEW JERSEY: What you really need to know
written by Michael D. Bonfrisco

An estimated $41 trillion in inheritance will change hands in the next 45 years - yet 75% of families have failed to plan.

The main purpose of Smart Estate Planning in New Jersey is to provide families with more readily available information that will equip them to take control over an area that is oftern misunderstood.

Planning your legacy sets the state to protect your family, to preserve what you've spent a lifetime accumulating and distribute your assets, values, and wisdom in the way you want them distributed.

Call our office 856-663-3800 to order your copy today!

For more information and a sneak preview of the book, visit us at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti Survior Scared Her Assets Were Disorganized

New Jersey native and Haiti earthquake survivor, Sarla Chand told CNN while trapped in the rubble of a fallen building in Haiti for 55 hours, her thoughts were that she had to hang on and survive. She stated " ...if I don't make it, my sons and my family are going to be so mad at me for papers that are so disorganized to find my assets". She told herself she absolutely had to survive so she could go home and organize everything. Chand told CNN she was full of tremendous hope.

Sarla Chand, is now home safe and sound with her family. Her family embraced her with open arms saying "Welcome home mama!" She told CNN that her body is still very sore, and the reality of it all is still sinking in.

To read more of Sarla Chand's story go to

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Friday, January 15, 2010

What a Living Trust Can Do For You! -Part 3

A Living Trust Can Protect Children From Earlier Marriages

Both the surviving spouse and the children from a previous marriage can receive fair treatment and protection under the terms of your living trust.

A Living Trust Can Insure Your Wishes Are Not Subject to Attack

Most living trusts contain a “No Contest Clause” which prevents greedy beneficiaries and their lawyers from successfully attacking your estate plan.

A Living Trust Gives You Peace of Mind

When your living trust is completed, you and your family will relax knowing that your estate will be managed and distributed by someone you have selected and trust.

For more information on Probate or Estate Planning please visit our website:


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What a Living Trust Can Do For You! -Part 2

A Living Trust Provides Privacy

Because a Living Trust avoids probate it provides privacy. Probate is a public process. Anyone can find out how much you had, to whom you left your assets, and other information about you. They do not even need a good reason. They could be nosy neighbors or relatives, or worse yet, they could be scam artists.

A Living Trust Can Reduce or Eliminate Federal Estate Taxes

With a living trust, a married couple can pass twice the exempt amount absolutely estate tax-free to their heirs. That means, in 2006, with proper tax planning a married couple can make a tax-free transfer of $4,000,000. A single person can pass $2,000,000 estate tax-free in 2006.

In 2010, there is no estate tax. However, in 2011 the maximum amount that can pass free from tax is at the same level as in 2002, $1,000,000 for a single person, $2,000,000 for a married couple with proper planning.

A Living Trust Allows You to Restrict How Your Estate is Managed and Spent Even After Your Death

It can provide for the care, support and education of your children by turning over assets to them at an age chosen by you. Even insurance proceeds can be paid to the trust so your successor trustee can manage them for the benefit of your family.

A Living Trust Can Protect Children From Their Creditors and Ex-Spouses

A living trust can leave your assets to your children in a manner that will reduce the ability of their creditors or ex-spouses to take your children’s inheritance from them.

For more information about Living Trusts or Probate, Please visit our website:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Casey Johnson, Heiress to the Johnson & Johnson Fortune

If you haven't seen it in the news, or heard it already, Casey Johnson, also known as the "Baby-Powder Princess" has passed away at only 30 years old. Even though Casey was known to have her ups and downs with drugs and alcohol, this is a horrible and tragic event, especially for her close friends, and family to have to experience.

There are going to be so many investigations regarding her death, Police have stated she may have been dead for many days before she was found in her home January 4, 2010.

Now here's the interesting part.

As of 12 o'clock midnight New Years Day, January 1st 2010, there is no estate tax. Some have said, 2010 is the year to die because of this. So this is where Johnson's fiancé, Tila Tequila will not have to pay ANY estate tax.

Now considering the Police have stated there is a possibility Johnson could have been deceased for a few days before she was found makes the situation a little more complicated. If it can be proven that Johnson died in 2009, the Estate Tax will be reinstated by congress! There are rumors that Johnson had public arguments with her family, and had been either announced as "cut off" from the family funding, but either way, she still has assets in trust that can be taxed upon. So if she died in 2009, then her estate is taxed at 45% of its value!

So how do we plan for this uncertainty?
DO AN ESTATE PLAN, It's not just about the taxes, the most important reason to do an estate plan is to protect your loved ones. A trust based plan is a way to protect your privacy, during your life as well as when you are gone.

For more information about Estate Planning or Estate Taxes, Please visit our website: