Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Don't Be Anna - Make Burial Instructions

Category: Probate and Estate Administration

In the wake of the travesty that is the Anna Nicole Smith saga, I am beginning a series of posts on what you can do to avoid some of the problems her lack of planning have caused. Now, most people's death would never come close to being the global circus of Anna Nicole's, but within your own family circle, a failure to plan can have potentially devastating consequences. So - Don't be Anna.

A basic tenent of estate planning is that it has to be clear, because, by definition, you won't be here to describe your intent.

One area that you have the right to direct are your burial wishes. In New Jersey, NJSA 45:27-22 grants you the right to control your funeral wishes by a written statement in your will. If you have no statement, various people, in descending order, have the right to make the decision for you. But give your family members a gift - tell them what you want in your Will, instead of leaving them to make guesses, or worse, disagree.

22. a. If a decedent, in a will as defined in N.J.S.3B:1-2, appoints a person to control the funeral and disposition of the human remains, the funeral and disposition shall be in accordance with the instructions of the person so appointed. A person so appointed shall not have to be executor of the will. The funeral and disposition may occur prior to probate of the will, in accordance with section 40 of P.L.2003, c.261 (C.3B:10-21.1). If the decedent has not left a will appointing a person to control the funeral and disposition of the remains, the right to control the funeral and disposition of the human remains shall be in the following order, unless other directions have been given by a court of competent jurisdiction:
(1) The surviving spouse of the decedent.
(2) A majority of the surviving adult children of the decedent.
(3) The surviving parent or parents of the decedent.
(4) A majority of the brothers and sisters of the decedent.
(5) Other next of kin of the decedent according to the degree of consanguinity.
(6) If there are no known living relatives, a cemetery may rely on the written authorization of any other person acting on behalf of the decedent.

For some more in depth thoughts on this problem, look at Will Your Family Honor Your Funeral Instructions?


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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NBC Nightly News Series - Trading Places

Category: Elder Law

NBC Nightly News has an ongoing series about caring for your parents. In the series, they focus on how some well known NBC personalties are taking on this responsibiliy. Links to informative clips are below:

Click to share your stories
Video: Dealing with dementia
Video: Practical advice to care for parents
Video: Vermont funds home nursing care
A generation caught between two others
Tom Brokaw: Having is easier than not
Ann Curry: At 77, Dad embraces life
Dr. Nancy Snyderman: A new chapter
Tim Russert: It takes a team
Brian Williams: A little help from angels


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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

529 Plans in a Nutshell

Category: Financial Planning

529 Plan. What exactly do those 3 little numbers mean for those saving for college? Joel A. Schoenmeyer, Esq. has 20 Short Facts about 529 Plans (Part 1) and (Part 2) on his blog Death and Taxes, The Blog. In short, precise detail, Joel goes into the history, advantages, disadvatages and nuts and bolts of a 529 Plan.


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dutch Tax Shelters for Royalties (from licensing intellectual property, not nobility)

Category: Tax Law and Planning

If you have income producing intellectual property, it turn out that the Netherlands may be the place to own it. Previously thought of only in terms of tulips and windmills, Dutch Tax Law is incredibly favorable to royalties (produced from licensing copyrights and patents) - so favorable in fact, that royalties are not taxed there.

The article The Netherlands, the New Tax Shelter Hot Spot from the New York Times describes how the Rolling Stones and others who derive huge amounts of revenue from licensing have significantly reduced taxation by taking advantage of Dutch Laws designed to attract royalty producing assets. The most impressive statistic from the article (and making it a worthwhile read): "Over the last 20 years, according to Dutch documents, the [three of the members of the Rolling Stones] have paid just $7.2 million in taxes on earnings of $450 million that they have channeled through Amsterdam — a tax rate of about 1.5 percent, well below the British rate of 40 percent." Wow.

LAST spring, Keith Richards, the craggy-faced and hard-partying lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, fell from a tree at a beach resort in Fiji, slamming his head against the trunk on his way down. Mr. Richards was flown to New Zealand, where a surgeon provided emergency care to treat swelling in his brain. While the accident forced the Rolling Stones to cancel part of their summer tour, Mr. Richards, 62, handily survived his plunge.

“It’s not the first brush with death I’ve had,” Mr. Richards later told Rolling Stone magazine. “I guess what I learned is, don’t sit in trees anymore.”

What two of the other three Rolling Stones apparently learned, including Mick
and Charlie Watts, was that Mr. Richards’s near-death experience meant that it was time to think about their heirs. For that, the aging rockers turned to a reclusive Dutch accountant, Johannes Favie, whose company, Promogroup, has helped them minimize their tax bills for more than 30 years. (The fourth Rolling Stone, Ron Wood, handles his finances apart from Promogroup.)

And so, last August, according to details disclosed in documents maintained by the Handelsregister, the trade registry of the Netherlands, Promogroup helped the three performers set up a pair of private Dutch foundations that will allow them to transfer assets tax-free to heirs when they die. Other Dutch shelters that Promogroup has arranged for the three have already paid off handsomely; over the last 20 years, according to Dutch documents, the three musicians have paid just $7.2 million in taxes on earnings of $450 million that they have channeled through Amsterdam — a tax rate of about 1.5 percent, well below the British rate of 40 percent.


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Monday, February 05, 2007

A Technological Alternative to Moving a Senior From Their Home

Category: Elder Law

This article In Elder Care, Signing on Becomes a Way to Drop By from the New York Times describes a technology based alternative to home health care, assisted living, or nursing home care for seniors - instead of moving a senior to a safer location, why not make their home safer for them to live in alone?

CONNIE ARAPS, 57, of Delray Beach, Fla., thought that her father, Tom Araps, 87, was managing just fine on his own. But when he came to stay with her for a few months in 2005, she found that he was skipping meals, sleeping all morning and not taking daily walks.

To satisfy her father’s desire to live alone, but to ease her mind about his safety, Ms. Araps found an apartment for him less than a mile from her home and had it equipped with QuietCare, a home health alarm system provided by ADT Security Services.

She drops by his apartment often, and logs into a Web site several times a day to check on him. Motion sensors track how often Mr. Araps opens the refrigerator, when he gets out of bed and how long he stays in the bathroom. If his normal patterns vary, the alarm company alerts her. One day, the company called her to say that no one had entered or left the apartment all day. It turned out that a home health aide had failed to show up, and her father had not received his diabetes medication. Ms. Araps rushed over and made sure that her father took his pills.

The article does recognize that this technology is no a cure-all - who will monitor it? can they respond effectively if a change is shown? what about privacy concerns? But for some families, this can be an effective and economical solution to satisfy both the parents and the children's concerns.


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