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Help Your Parents and Grandparents Update Their Estate Planning Documents

Help Parents with Estate Planning

May and June are months filled with family get-togethers of all kinds: weddings, graduations, picnics, barbecues, and family reunions. These get-togethers often remind us about how important our family members are to us. While a family party is probably not the best place to talk with your parents and grandparents about their estate plans, follow up with those older loved ones at a later time about getting their affairs in order.

Talking about these can be uncomfortable, but express to family members that it is vital that they take time now to help minimize difficulties later. It also does not need to be a large, detail-filled conversation either – just inquire whether they have made a will or whether they have thought about making a will or other estate plans. Print out this article and let them read it.

Here are a few simple things to help anyone decide whether they need to complete or update their estate plans:

  • It doesn’t take long to review life insurance policies to make sure that contact information is correct for the policy holder while also ensuring that beneficiaries are up to date.
  • If your loved ones already have wills, be sure that they review them. They will need to be updated if a spouse, child or sibling has died. They may also need to be updated if the Older Americans have downsized to new residences, closed or sold businesses, or bought or sold vacation homes, boats, or recreational vehicles.
  • Remember that property includes not only real property (land, house, condominium, business storefront, etc.), but also personal property such as jewelry, art, sports memorabilia, even pets.
  • It is also a good time to address living wills, which are a legal document by which a person makes known his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical procedures, such as resuscitation. This is especially important if a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or a life-threatening disease that can impair their cognitive abilities in the future.
  • Establishing power of attorney, a legal document by which Person A gives Person B the power to make decisions about their legal and/or financial affairs upon Person A’s incapacitation, is also very important. If one of your parents or grandparents has power of attorney for the other and he or she has died or been diagnosed with a disease like Alzheimer’s, then the document needs to be updated.

These are some simple things that you can do each spring to make sure that your family is protected. Everyone, no matter their net worth, should have estate planning in place. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

If your parents, grandparents or you need help reviewing or establishing any of the documents above, please telephone me at (732) 444-6406 or write me an email and tell me you’d like to meet about doing estate planning. I will send you my free Estate Planning Workbook, which is a tool to help you think about all of the different concerns there are with estate planning.

***
The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.

 

 

 

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Filed under Estate Administration and Litigation, Estate Planning, General Practice Law Firm, Law Office of Nancy L Holm, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Special Needs Children / Adults, Trusts, Uncategorized, Wills

Estate Planning Critical for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Sufferers

Estate Planning for the ElderlyThe statistics for Alzheimer’s disease are staggering with an estimated 5.2 million Americans having the disease in 2014, including approximately 200,000 individuals younger than 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia conditions will escalate rapidly as the baby boom generation ages.

These sobering statistics require that we are prepared in terms of estate planning in the event a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association says that dementia is a general term for the loss of memory, decision-making and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

If a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you need to help them make legal plans. It is recommended that you begin as soon as possible, so that the person with dementia will be able to participate.

Before a person with dementia signs a legal document, it should be determined that they understand the document and the consequences of signing it. A medical professional may be able to assist in determining the level of a person’s mental ability.

It is also important to review all legal documents signed by the person before they were diagnosed with dementia. This includes living wills, trusts and powers of attorney. It is important that these documents are reviewed with another individual for corrections and updates.

Among the items that you should discuss with your lawyer include:

Plans for health care and long-term care, including living wills

A living will is a legal document, by which a person makes known his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical procedures, such as resuscitation. A living will can also be called an advance directive, health care directive, advance medical directive, or physician’s directive.

Plans for finances and property, including wills and trusts

A will is a written legal declaration by which a person makes known how their property will be disposed of upon their death. Property includes not only real property (land, house, condominium, business storefront, etc.), but also personal property such as jewelry, art, sports memorabilia, even pets.

Trusts come in all forms and can be straightforward or extremely complex. Simple stated, trusts are a financial arrangement that allows a third party (the trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. How and when the assets pass to the beneficiary can be controlled by establishing a trust.

Designation of another individual who will make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia, including power of attorney

Power of attorney is a legal document by which Person A gives Person B the power to make decisions about their legal and/or financial affairs upon Person A’s incapacitation. Powers of Attorney expire upon your death.

My goal is to make estate planning as easy and painless as possible. I even provide you with a guide to get you started on the estate planning pathway. Call me at (732) 444-6406 or write me an email to schedule a meeting. I offer flexible appointment times and my fees are reasonable. For most people who don’t require a lot of special planning, one flat fee covers everything.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that your family will be cared for when the inevitable happens.

***

The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.

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April Is Autism Awareness Month – Celebrate and Support Those with Special Needs

Celebrate the talents of Special Needs Individuals

April is Autism Awareness Month, and those who have to live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (not to mention those who are caregivers for individuals with Autism) are blessed to have such an incredible outpouring of support and media attention currently. Many people throughout Monmouth County, where I live, participated in “Light It Blue” and put blue-tinted lights on their homes in support of Autism Awareness Month.

Many times, those on the outside looking in will focus on what individuals with special needs CANNOT do, rather than experience the many talents and gifts these individuals have. I have been blessed to meet individuals with many different diagnoses – from Aspergers and Austism to Down Syndrome and more – and each of them has a truly incredible talent to share. One autistic client wrote poetry that moved me to tears in his parents’ kitchen. Another autistic client drew pictures that would make Picasso jealous. A client with Down Syndrome painted incredible works of art.

This past weekend, my children and I participated in the Circle of Special Friends “Spring Fling” where individuals with special needs of all kinds and their caregivers let loose on the dance floor, ate pizza and cake, had their faces painted, and just generally had a great time. It’s too bad we couldn’t bottle the energy in that room!

What struck me most was when my young son and I got in the car, completely exhausted, and he said to me, “Mommy, I thought those kids would need my help, but nobody needed my help.” I had explained to him before we arrived about what it means to have special needs, and that he might need to help one of the partygoers. But he was right: they didn’t need our help, other than to help celebrate with them. They don’t need us to baby them – they need us to just be a friend.

Parents and caregivers of individuals with special needs also need our support. Sometimes it’s as simple as a long talk over a cup of coffee, but it can be more complex, like help with legal issues that will arise as they navigate the system. Take the time during this month to get to know an individual with special needs.

Your heart will be forever changed for the better.

For more information on autism or to learn about how you can help, visit the Autism Society and Autism Speaks.

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The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.

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Filed under Estate Planning, Guardianship Cases, Special Needs Children / Adults, Trusts

Thank You, Veterans and Military – Discount on All Legal Services

Military DiscountI admit it. Every time a soldier’s homecoming is shown on the evening news, I cry. My tears are a combination of relief, joy, gratitude, and pride.

G.K. Chesterton said, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” Men and women who choose to serve their countries have accepted the ultimate reality: every day when they go to work, they know that they might not come home. Ever.

Military personnel sacrifice so much so that they can serve their countries. They may suffer physical injury or emotional trauma. Time apart can cause relationships to suffer, and sometimes, crumble.

And then there are the everyday sacrifices that active duty military (and their families and friends) make: they aren’t home to see their baby’s first steps, dance at their parents’ 25th anniversary, or give the toast at their childhood friend’s wedding.

Yet, these brave men and women shoulder their rifles (both literally and figuratively) and fight for what they believe in – freedom.

 Please say thank you to our veterans. Any time you see a soldier in uniform or a veteran, tell them you are grateful for their service and sacrifice. I do.

 As an additional way of showing my appreciation, I offer veterans and active duty military discounts on all of my legal services. The savings vary based on the type of case, so for more details, please contact me at (732) 444-6406 or through my Contact page.

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Estate Planning 101 – Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts

Nancy-Holm-Attorney-New-Jersey-easy-estate-planning-wills-last will-writing a will-cheap-Word

Estate planning sounds so overwhelming: Wills, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts, Guardianships, etc., etc., etc.  

What does it all mean and what do you really, really need to ensure that your family will be cared for when you pass away?

While the following definitions are by no means intended to be all-encompassing, or cover all of the variations of each document, they are helpful for the estate planning novice in determining what documents are right and necessary for them.

What is a will?

A will is a written legal declaration by which a person makes known how their property will be disposed of upon their death. Property includes not only real property (land, house, condominium, business storefront, etc.), but also personal property such as jewelry, art, sports memorabilia, even pets.

What is a living will?

A living will is a legal document, by which a person makes known his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical procedures, such as resuscitation. A living will can also be called an advance directive, health care directive, advance medical directive, or physician’s directive.

What is power of attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document by which Person A gives Person B the power to make decisions about their legal and/or financial affairs upon Person A’s incapacitation. Powers of Attorney expire upon your death.

What is a trust?

Trusts come in all forms and can be straightforward or extremely complex. Simple stated, trusts are a financial arrangement that allows a third party (the trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. How and when the assets pass to the beneficiary can be controlled by establishing a trust.

My goal is to make estate planning as easy and painless as possible. I even provide you with a guide to get you started on the estate planning pathway. Call me at (732) 444-6406 or write me an email to schedule a meeting. I offer flexible appointment times and my fees are reasonable. For most people who don’t require a lot of special planning, one flat fee covers everything.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that your family will be cared for when the inevitable happens.

***

The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.

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Updating Your Will

Update your will if you got married

Update your will if you got married

Life happens. Even if you have completed estate planning, it’s never really ‘done.’ Life is going to come along and make you re-do it.

So, I present, You Might Need to Update Your Will. (Read this in your head with a Jeff Foxworthy-type voice):

IF you had a baby,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF you got married,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF you got divorced,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF you adopted a child,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF you have a new grandbaby,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF a relationship within your family has changed,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF tax laws have changed,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF your estate value has dramatically increased (or decreased),
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF you moved to a new state,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF you retired,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

IF you changed your investments,
YOU MIGHT NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

These are just a few reasons that you might need to review your will with an attorney. I am just a phone call away, and maintain flexible office hours so that we can meet at your convenience. For most people, reviewing and revising wills is one flat fee. Call me (732) 444-6406 or email to schedule a meeting time.

***

The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.

 

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Filed under Estate Administration and Litigation, Estate Planning, Guardianship Cases, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Uncategorized, Wills

Protect Your Family With Estate Planning

Estate Planning Made Easy

Estate Planning Made Easy

I have always been a big planner.  I’m not rigid with my plans, but I do spend time thinking about what I can do to make life better and easier for my family. Sometimes my plans are extensive and require a large commitment and sometimes just a few small steps are all that are needed.

Most of the time, I’ve found that the smaller, more focused commitments are the ones I complete and can make the most difference.

Estate planning sounds like an overwhelming task that will require a lot of time, paperwork, and thinking about things no one wants to think about, when, in reality, it’s relatively straightforward and painless. I liken it to getting a flu shot: we all put it off and dread doing it, but once we’re there, it’s a quick pinch and you’re protected.

Everyone, no matter their net worth, should have estate planning in place. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

What exactly is the estate planning process?

I try to make estate planning as quick and painless as possible. Call me at (732) 444-6406 or write me an email and tell me you’d like to meet about doing estate planning. I have flexible hours and can meet with you after work, if that is more convenient for your schedule. We set up a time to meet, and Voila! You’ve started the estate planning process.

Next, I will email you my free Estate Planning Workbook, which is a tool to help you think about all of the different concerns there are with estate planning. Some things may not apply (i.e., you are 34 years old and don’t have grandchildren), and others are things you may never have thought of, but need to (i.e., who will take care of my kids if, God forbid, something happens to me?) It’s not a test; there are no right or wrong answers. It’s just to get you thinking.

Once you’ve had a chance to go over my Estate Planning Workbook, we meet to talk about what you are looking for from the process (just a will? Living will? Power of Attorney? Special Needs Trust? Whole package?), and to see if any special planning needs to be done.

Occasionally, we may need to meet again to discuss more complex issues, but for most people, that’s all you have to do until it’s time to review the estate planning documents that I have prepared according to your wishes.

Once you’ve carefully reviewed the documents to make sure that everything is how you want it, we will schedule a time to sign everything. That’s it. Easy peasy!

Don’t let the cost of estate planning worry you. My fees are reasonable, and for most people who don’t require a lot of special planning, one flat fee covers everything.

So what exactly were you afraid of?

***

The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.

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Filed under Estate Administration and Litigation, Estate Planning, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Trusts, Wills

Superstorm Sandy and New Jersey Property Tax Appeals

This time every year is Property Tax Appeal season. My office gears up in January to help New Jersey residents obtain some level of relief from these oppressive property tax bills, and this year is no different.

What is different this year is the fact that so many properties, whether primary residences or vacation homes, were damaged or even washed away by Superstorm Sandy.

One question I’ve received several times this year is what to do, property tax-wise when properties were affected by Superstorm Sandy? It just so happens that in New Jersey, there’s a statute for that:

54:4-35.1 – Material depreciation of structure between October 2 and January 1; determination of value.

“When any parcel of real property contains any building or other structure which has been destroyed, consumed by fire, demolished, or altered in such a way that its value has materially depreciated, either intentionally or by the action of storm, fire, cyclone, tornado, or earthquake, or other casualty, which depreciation of value occurred after October first in any year and before January first of the following year, the assessor shall, upon notice thereof being given to him by the property owner prior to January tenth of said year, and after examination and inquiry, determine the value of such parcel of real property as of said January first, and assess the same according to such value.”  L.1945, c. 260, p. 789, s. 1.

Ordinarily, a property tax appeal deals with the value of the property as of October 1 of the prior year. For example, all appeals filed this year will argue over what the value of the property was as of October 1, 2012. Well, we all know that Sandy didn’t hit until October 29, 2012. The good news (if you can call it that) is that due to widespread devastation, municipalities have taken it upon themselves to perform a post-storm “reassessment” of the distressed properties. If you live in an area that was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, you should have received an updated assessment postcard from your municipality. Many towns, such as Toms River, have received an extension, and their postcards will be mailed on or around April 15, 2013.

The bad news is that every municipality is handling it differently and some are more organized and willing to give information than others. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR TAX ASSESSOR/TAX COLLECTOR AND FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON WITH REASSESSMENTS IN YOUR PARTICULAR TOWN.

If you receive your reassessment card, and you are not happy with the reassessment you are given, contact our office immediately to file an appeal. Some municipalities are giving an extension on the appeal filing date, but if nothing is said, assume that the deadline to file an appeal is April 1, like a normal year.

We are offering a discounted rate for homeowners whose property was adversely affected by Sandy, so please don’t hesitate to call (732) 444-6406 or email HolmlawNJ@gmail.com.

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Superstorm Sandy Continues to Impact New Jersey

Like many New Jersey residents, Superstorm Sandy left a hole in my heart. While I am not a native New Jerseyan, I have lived in the great Garden State for over 14 years, and it is my home. I love the Jersey Shore and spend my summers going to the beach in Manasquan. Sandy spared my family and most of my friends from devastation, but I still feel a tremendous sense of loss.My colleague Sandra was also lucky that her house and loved ones were mostly spared from Sandy’s wrath; however, her hometown of Union Beach, N.J., was not so lucky. Her childhood home had to be demolished, and many childhood friends and their family members are still struggling to figure out what to do next. Sandra has spent just about every weekend since the storm volunteering her time and legal services to the people of Union Beach, and I know she’s made a huge impact there.

Sandra and I want those of you who were affected by Sandy to know that we are here to help. We are offering discounted rates for Hurricane Sandy victims for Sandy-related legal services, as well as providing information and contacts for legal groups and firms in the area handling specific issues stemming from the storm. When we know of new information, we are posting it online via Twitter and Facebook so that you stay informed. Check back often for more detailed information posted on our blog and website.  — Nancy L. Holm

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Filed under General Practice Law Firm, Law Office of Nancy L Holm, Property Tax Appeals

“This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True.”

Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, William Shakespeare

I know, this is quite possibly the most over-quoted line from Shakespeare. There’s a reason for that: it’s a great line, and something everyone should aspire to do. It’s especially appropriate here on the Holmlaw Blog because it’s quite possibly Mission Statement Number One for the Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC. It’s the reason I struck out on my own and started my own law firm, and it’s also my philosophy with clients, adversaries, the Court, and anyone else who does business with me or my law firm.

I’m the daughter of an attorney, niece of an attorney, and cousin of attorneys, and now I’m an attorney (God help the rest of our family). I’ve been support staff for two law firms, I’ve interned for a trial court judge, and I’ve been the law clerk to an Appellate Division judge. I’ve worked with attorneys in three different states, and I’ve gone to law school with some awesome up-and-coming attorneys. I’ve worked with and against other attorneys throughout the great State of New Jersey. Not to mention, I have been the client of an attorney. All of these experiences have shaped how I have designed my law firm and how I treat my clients.

(1)       No Nonsense Billing. Where possible, I charge a flat fee. This usually comes into play for Real Estate Transactions, Property Tax Appeals, Estate Planning Documents, and other areas. Litigation and Estate Administration, on the other hand, require a reasonable, hourly rate. When it comes to hourly billing, I’m not someone who “looks at the file” when nothing is going on so that I make a few bucks. I’m also not into nickel-and-diming my clients for things like a per-fax fee. What you see is what you get. When I work on your file, you know that I am actually working on your file – not just generating billable hours.

(2)       Flexible Time. I will meet clients when it is convenient for them – weekends, evenings, etc. People have to work. They can’t take off to come and visit me for a consultation many times.

(3)       No Passing the Buck. Many times, you sign on with a lawyer in a firm, then you get passed along to an associate or a paralegal, and you never hear from the attorney you met with again. While it’s great that the associate charges a lower rate (as does the paralegal), what happened to the person who ultimately convinced you to sign on with them? Many times, they will only swoop in at the end for trial or for the real estate closing.  Obviously at this moment in time, I’m a solo practitioner, so I can’t pass you on to anyone else, but that’s the beauty of hiring a solo – I’m your attorney from beginning to end. I will be fully familiar with your file, and we will get to know each other through the legal process.

(4)       Empathy and Understanding. There are a lot of great lawyers out there, and many extremely talented litigators. However, what seems to happen over time is that many lawyers forget that no matter the circumstances of the lawsuit or other legal transaction, they are still dealing with human beings. Human beings who are stressed, upset, and/or concerned about what to do next. While much of litigation is strategy and calculation, I understand that many people take lawsuits extremely personally. I try my best to take as much of the emotional burden off of my clients, and I am sensitive to the toll that lawsuits and other transactions can have on a client.

There is an attorney out there for everyone, and one that fits every personality. You have to find the attorney that fits you, and I encourage you to stay true to yourself in the process. Don’t be afraid to shop around and find the best fit for you. I hope that you find my practice a good fit for your legal needs.

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