1.2013 update Wills and Estate Planning Seminar Materials
1.Federal Estate Tax exemption is now permanently increased so no tax for Estates under $5,250,000, and will be adjusted annually for inflation. However, New Jersey taxes estates over $675,000.
New Jersey has an Estate Tax on amounts over $675,000. So, even if no Federal Estate Tax due, the estate must still file a Federal Estate Tax Return, plus NJ Estate Tax Return.
So, for an unmarried or widowed person with assets of $1,000,000, there is No Federal Estate Taxes, butthe Estimated State Estate Tax:$33,200.00
Foran unmarried or widowed person with assets of $1,500,000, estimated NJ Estate Tax is over $60,000.
The Federal Tax rate on estates over $5,250,000 has been increased from 35% to 40%.
How to avoid NJ Estate Tax- hire an attorney to set up a personal residence trust or irrevocable trust and have the assets taken out of your name and put into a trust or given to children and grandchildren in the trust. Minimum fees for trust are $3,000. This is probably not something a non attorney can do on their own. It is illegal for a non attorney to provide legal advice or prepare most legal documents.
2.Gifts permitted without Federal Estate & Gift tax was increased to $14,000 per person.
However, the amount permitted for Medicaid transfers is zero.
3. NJ SENATE Law No. 708 made a number of substantial changes to the NJ Probate Law.
Non formal writings could be Wills under the Revised provisions governing the administration of estates and trusts in New Jersey. So make sure you have a Formal Will drafted by an estate attorney.
The law expanded situations where writings that are intended as Wills would be allowed, but requires that the burden of proof on the proponent would be by clear and convincing evidence. Possibly a Christmas card with handwritten notes could be presented as a Will or Codicil.
To present a non-formal Will or writing requires an expensive Complaint and Order to Show Cause to be filed in the Superior Court, and a hearing in front of a Superior Court Judge.
Be careful; have a Will done properly by an experienced attorney.
Beware of the Elective share rights of a new spouse. Have a Prenuptial Agreement if entering into a 2ndmarriage
The elective share provisions of the present Code has still not been changed yet. Currently, the new spouse who is not given money in a Will can challenge the terms of the Will. This is called electing against the Will by a spouse. A spouse could receive up to 1/3 of the estate, even if only married for 2 weeks. The spouse must file a Caveat or lawsuit in Superior Court. We suggest a formal prenuptial agreement in 2ndmarriage situations.
A Testator now means both male and female individuals, removing the term Testatrix. Will forms that say executrix should not be used.
The law provides a statute of limitations with respect to creditor claims against a decedents estate. There is no longer a need to publish a Notice Limiting Creditors.
4. We recommend Self- Proving Wills since witnesses often move or pass away
An old New Jersey Probate law required one of the two witnesses to a Will to travel and appear in the Surrogates office and sign an affidavit to certify they were a witness. This often created problems when the witness was deceased, moved away, or simply could not be located. Some witnesses would require a $500 fee to simply sign a surrogate paper. My Grandmothers Will was not self- proving, and the witness to Will extorted a $500 fee.
The New Jersey Legislature later passed a law to create a type of Will called a Self-Proving Will. In such a Will, the person for whom the Will is made must sign. Then two witnesses sign. Then the attorney or notary must sign; with certain statutory language to indicate the Will is self-proving.
When done properly, the executor does not have to locate any witnesses. This usually saves time and money. If your Will is not self-proving or if you are unsure, schedule an appointment with an elder law attorney. Some law offices ignore the revised law, and fail to prepare self proving Wills. Do not use a law office that follows old methods and does not do a self-proving Will.
5. Revised statute requires Palimony agreements to be in writing.
This law is intended to overturn recent palimony decisions by New Jersey courts. An agreement to provide support or any such contract must be in writing and signed by the person making the promise. More specifically, the law provides that a promise by one party to a non-marital personal relationship to provide support or other consideration for the other party, either during the course of such relationship or after its termination, is not binding unless it is in writing and signed. The law provides that no such written promise is binding unless it was made with the independent advice of counsel for both parties.
This law eliminates the holdings of two cases New Jersey Supreme Courts which unwisely upheld palimony agreements between two unmarried cohabitants.
The new palimony law almost totally eliminates palimony in NJ.
6. NJ Supreme Court held a Will could be void if signed under suspicious circumstances
When there is a confidential relationship coupled with suspicious circumstances, undue influence is presumed and the burden of proof shifts to the Will proponent to overcome the presumption.
If there is undue influence in making of Will and transfer by Deed of a house by persons in Confidential relationship, this could subject those persons to punitive damages in some instances, plus voiding of the Will.In the Matter of the Estate of Madeleine Stockdale, Deceased196 NJ 275 (2008)
Wills should be prepared without undue influence. No one other than the person who is signing the Will should be in the room. We usually request the person who wants the Will to fill out the interview form themselves.
7. NJ Inheritance tax
The NJ Inheritance Tax Return instructions and NJ Estate Tax Forms were revised in 2011. Throw out old forms. Even if no inheritance tax due, a Tax Waiver on a house must still be obtained and filed if the house was not co-owned by the spouse.
8. Power of Attorney
Do not use a form purchased online, unless it contains reference to the NJ statute requiring banks to honor the Power of Attorney. Section 2 of P.L. 1991, c. 95 (c. 46:2B-11).
9. Federal Health Privacy Law (HIPAA)
A federal regulation known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was adopted regarding disclosure of individually identifiable health information. This necessitated the addition of a special release and consent authority to all healthcare providers before medical information will be released to agents and interested persons of the patients.
The effects of HIPAA are far reaching, and can render previously executed estate planning documents useless, without properly executed amendments, specifically addressing these issue.
Any previously executed Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, and certainly all Medical Directives now require HIPAA amendments.
Powers of attorneys and Living Wills should be updated to reference this new law. More information on the HIPAA law athttp://www.njlaws.com/hipaa.htm
After you sign the Living Will in your attorneys office, provide a copy to your doctor and family.
10. Competency required to sign a Will or Power of Attorney
My law office cannot prepare a Power of Attorney, Will or any other legal document unless a person is mentally competent. If someone is unable to come into our office, we require the client or clients family to have the treating Doctor sign the Doctor Certification of Patient Capacity to Sign Legal Documents It is theclient or clients familys responsibility to contact the doctor, obtain the signed Certification at the clients expense, and then provide the law office with the original signed Certification. The law office cannot accept phone calls stating someone is competent. Therefore, it is wise do have your documents drafted while you can drive and are healthy.
More information on Wills and Probate at: www.CentralJerseyElderLaw.com
2.Liability of Owner of Commercial Property for Defects, Snow and Ice Accumulation and Other Dangerous Conditions in Abutting Sidewalks.
The law imposes upon the owner of commercial or business property the duty to use reasonable care to see to it that the sidewalks abutting the property are reasonably safe for members of the public who are using them. In other words, the law says that the owner of commercial property mustexercise reasonable care to see to it that the condition of the abutting sidewalk is reasonably safe and does not subject pedestrians to an unreasonable risk of harm. The concept of reasonable care requires the owner of commercial property to take action with regard to conditions within a reasonable period of time after the owner becomes aware of the dangerous condition or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have become aware of it.
If there was a condition of this sidewalk that was dangerous in that it created an unreasonable risk of harm for pedestrians, and if the owner knew of that condition or should have known of it but failed to take such reasonable action to correct or remedy the situation within a reasonable period of time thereafter as a reasonably prudent commercial or business owner would have done under the circumstances, then the owner is negligent.
No one plans on being injured in an accident, whether it is a car accident, fall down or other situation. Speak with a personal injury attorney immediately to retain all your rights. The stores are responsible for the maintenance of their premises, which are used by the public. It is the duty of the store to inspect and keep said premises in a safe condition and free from any and all pitfalls, obstacles or traps that would likely cause injury to persons lawfully thereon.
If the unsafe condition is alleged to besnowand ice,N.J.S.A. 40:64-12 and any ordinance adopted by the municipality might be charged as a factor, the jury should consider the reasonableness of the time the defendant(s) has (have) waited to remove or reduce asnowor ice condition from the sidewalk.
What actions must the owner of commercial property take with regard to defects /snow/ ice accumulation/ dangerous conditions? The action required by the law is action which a reasonably prudent person would take or should have taken in the circumstances present to correct the defect /snow/ ice accumulation/ dangerous condition, to repair it/remove it or to take other actions to minimize the danger to pedestrians (for example, to give warning of it) within a reasonable period of time after notice thereof. The test is: did the commercial property owner take the action that a reasonably prudent person who knows or should have known of the condition would have taken in that circumstance? If he/she did, he/she is not negligent. If he/she did not, he/she is negligent.
3. If you are injured, after seeking medical treatment and advising the store/mall, CALL KENNETH A. VERCAMMEN, ESQ. 732-572-0500 for an Appointment.
More Info At:http://www.njlaws.com/fall_down_injuries_on_snow.htm
If you are injured, after seeking medical treatment and advising the store / mall, CALL KENNETH A. VERCAMMEN, ESQ. 732-572-0500 For an Appointment.