Many New Jersey residents know that their family members may end up arguing about their inheritance. Even if each inheritance is equal in value, those who are receiving them may not think so. One way to limit -- or eliminate -- those rivalries, is by being open about estate planning.
New Jersey's recognition of same-sex marriage has resulted in significant changes to the rights of same-sex couples. Married same-sex couples now have the same rights as all married couples. As a result, there are changes with retirement benefits and Individual Retirement Accounts ("IRA") and how they are taxed to beneficiaries that inherit these funds. The recognition of same sex marriage means that same-sex married couples have greater options when it comes to the inheritance of IRAs and most retirement benefits. It is important to note that in order for same-sex couples to have these different options, they must actually be married. A civil union or domestic partnership does not qualify as marriage for federal tax purposes.
To marry, or not to marry? While the obvious answer can usually be found in one's heart, many couples also look to the pros and cons of marriage- in terms of things like healthcare benefits, retirement benefits and tax implications. Until recently, however, many of these benefits to marriage did not apply to same-sex couples in New Jersey- even though several states (currently 19) already recognized their marriage as valid.
Scientific advances in the area of conception have allowed numerous couples here in New Jersey and around the country to have a child when they could not conceive one naturally. Technology also allows men and women to freeze either their sperm or eggs for future implantation -- even after the death of one of the prospective parents. This raises the question as to whether a child conceived and born after death should receive an inheritance from his or her deceased parent.
It may not take New Jersey residents much imagination to believe that Walt Disney left behind a sizable estate. The children of Disney's deceased daughter were left an inheritance. However, one of Disney's grandchildren has yet to receive any of the money set aside for him.
These days, many New Jersey residents have active online lives. Facebook pages, iTunes accounts and other online accounts require some estate planning in order to be dealt with accurately after a person's death. Without some advance planning, surviving family members could encounter considerable issues trying to identify and deal with a deceased person's digital assets.
New Jersey fans of the television show "The Sopranos" may have already heard that James Gandolfini passed away recently. Now that his family has to settle his estate, it has come to light that Gandolfini's estate plan may not have been well thought out. His family is going to have to pay nearly $30 million in inheritance tax.
Back in 1959, a 13-year-old boy's brother threw a snowball at a tree and missed. It may surprise some in New Jersey to know that chance encounter over a snowball led to a lifetime friendship between that young boy and the friend of the girl that snow ball ended up hitting. In May 2008, that friendship ended with the man that was that teenage boy receiving an unexpected inheritance.
When leaving an inheritance for a New Jersey loved one, it is important to make sure every detail has been handled. One recent story involving two brothers and a step-mother has proven to be a good example of why it's important to protect an inheritance. The brothers' father had remarried and when he unexpectedly passed away a short time after, it was determined his wife had not signed the appropriate documents needed to make the sons the beneficiaries of their father's 401(k).
When New Jersey business owners plan their estates, they may wish to leave both their business and non-business assets to all of their children. However, this can present a challenge if not all of the children are involved in the business. It may be difficult to leave an equitable inheritance without a lot of resentment and confusion, but it is possible with the proper planning.