Probate & Estate Planning

Due to the general success of the stock market in recent times, many people are currently carrying appreciated stock as part of their balance sheet. Individuals who are charitably inclined and looking to make donations to a tax-exempt organization should consider using this appreciated stock from their portfolios instead of cash, as the tax savings can be quite beneficial. If the stock has been held for more than one year, and has appreciated in value,…
The governance system for a family-owned business provides the structure through which the objectives of the owners and the company are set and the means for monitoring performance against them is established. This system balances the interrelationships among the family, the owners of the company, the company’s board of directors, and its management. It allows for the various stakeholders in a family-owned business to participate in a cohesive and constructive manner. In the beginning—and for…
We often receive inquiries about whether we will represent parties in California trust and will contests on a contingency basis.  In contingency representation, the lawyer does not collect a fee unless the client obtains a favorable settlement or court judgment.  Contingency fees usually are structured on a percentage basis, with the lawyer receiving perhaps 25-40 percent of the value of the assets collected as specified in the fee agreement. Generally we decline requests for contingency…
We’re back to that recent New York Times article about funeral planning.  The reporter offers spot on advice about the ‘gaps’ of preneed arrangements.  A surviving parent will frequently advise adult children that they need not worry about his (or her) funeral because they have purchased a preneed contract.  As the article suggests, adult children should sit down with their parent to discuss those funeral and burial plans, and then review the preneed contract.  If…
This market offers family businesses a multitude of alternatives to selling your company. You are a family business owner. You continue to see the stock market appreciate, and you read about M&A activity and valuations being at a cyclical high. You likely have a number of friends who have sold their business, and hear from them about the available financial rewards that come with a peak market. You love your business, but you are not…
Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a story that on funeral planning that raised several valid issues and recommendations.  We will use the next few blog posts to explore certain issues and recommendations in greater detail.   With this post we will start with the article’s discussion of prepaying for a preneed contract, and the differences between guaranteed and non-guaranteed plans. The article references one side of the consumer protection argument against prepaying preneed…
In a brief piece for Strategy+Business titled “Business Leaders as Catalysts for Change,” Bob Woods recently interviewed George Oliver, a man with leadership experience as a senior executive at Johnson Controls, Tyco, and GE. Mr. Oliver talked generally about the changing role of the CEO in modern companies, but particularly highlighted the need for executives to embrace innovation as a core part of their leadership philosophy. Innovation and leadership are two of the…
The legal role of the probate lawyer is to admit the decedent’s will to probate, advise the newly appointed executor on their responsibilities and duties, help the executor inventory all of the assets of the decedent’s estate, settle debts and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.  Of course, numerous legal issues may arise, which complicate this basis process, but that is the essential role of the probate lawyer in the conventional…
There have been sweeping changes to both the federal and New Jersey tax laws for the first half of 2018.  At the federal level, the elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which for decades allowed people to itemize and deduct state and local income and property taxes from their federal bill is now being capped at $10,000. It has been widely publicized that residents of states with high SALT such as New…