Advanced Estate Planning


Complex Estate Plans

In many cases, a client’s situation (assets, business, family, etc…) calls for a more complicated plan than just basic wills, living wills and powers of attorney.  They might have a relatively high net worth, own (or are a partner in) a business, or have both children and grandchildren.  Children or other family members might be working in the business and they have more complicated concerns than just leaving all property to each other (typical “I love you” will arrangements).  They might want to leave property to children or grandchildren in trust.

HIPAA Compliant Estate Plans

If you are a doctor or other medical professional and are subject to HIPAA privacy laws, you have additional responsibilities in case of your premature death.  A HIPAA compliant will incorporates provisions that addresses the handling and distribution of patient files and other PHI (protected health information).  Patient files should be returned to them or their families or arrangements should be made to transfer their files to new practitioners.  There have been cases where doctors have been fined posthumously and their estate has been forced to fines for HIPAA violations and the doctor was admonished.  Families usually do not want to tarnish the reputation of their accomplished parent.

Charitable Trust Planning (CRTs & CLTs)

There are two primary types of charitable trusts, they are Charitable Remainder Trusts (“CRTs”) and Charitable Lead Trusts (“CLTs”).  Trusts with split interests (in which one part goes to a charity and another part goes to a non-charitable beneficiary (like an individual)) must meet very specific rules in order to qualify as such.

A CRT is an irrevocable trust in which the lead or up front interest goes to the non-charitable beneficiary and the remainder goes to the charity. A CRT is definitely more common than a CLT. A CRT is a tax-exempt entity and may be particularly useful when trying to defer gain on an asset.  A charitable lead trust is an irrevocable trust in which the up front or “lead” interest goes to the charity and the remainder goes to a non-charitable beneficiary. Both a CRT and a CLT may be set up as either an annuity trust or a unitrust.

For both these trusts, there are numerous, specific rules. If they are not followed precisely, the trust will not qualify. For example, split interest trusts where all income goes to the lead beneficiary do NOT qualify. So, if a trust gives all the income to John or Jane for life and then the remainder to charity, no part of the trust will qualify for a charitable deduction. Contact our office for more information or a free video consultation.

Eldercare Planning

As parents and other loved ones age, issues arise that should be addressed sooner than later.  Documents such as healthcare directives and powers of attorney, as well as updated wills and trusts (if necessary), should be signed before someone is too frail (especially in mind) to do so.  This might include transferring the personal residence to a trust while retaining a life estate.  And it might involve the use of other trust vehicles to protect assets from government taking.  For elderly parents, you might consider our DocuBank (link) service with an Emergency Access Card.

Asset Protection

If you have a relatively high network or you are in a professional (such as the healthcare field) that comes with additional exposure to liability, you should consider an estate plan that employs asset protection strategies that protects what you own from both creditors and “predators”.  “Predators” are people that purposely create situations to make you liable to them and seek money through lawsuits and insurance claims.  These types of plans might involve using trusts and other vehicles in various state jurisdictions and, perhaps, even in offshore locations.  It should also include appropriate insurance policies with proper levels of coverage.

New Jersey Probate

While the filing of probate or administrating is often a straight-forward process in New Jersey, it can be a drawn out experience involving filing of final income tax returns, inheritance waivers and the dealing with many financial institutions that your loved one accumulated during their lifetime.  Having an attorney involved can save you a lot of time and heart ache as you learn about the process “by accident.”