Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C.
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(732) 572-0500
www.njlaws.com

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Kenneth Vercammen was selected to the 2018 Super Lawyers NJ list. The Super Lawyers list issued by Thomson Reuters which manages West Publishing USA.

    Kenneth Vercammen was selected to the 2018 Super Lawyers NJ list. The Super Lawyers list issued by Thomson Reuters which manages West Publishing USA.
 https://profiles.superlawyers.com/new-jersey/edison/lawyer/kenneth-a-vercammen/73f0b3a6-71c1-4ae1-a5d0-803ddb2739a9.html
 A description of the selection methodology can be found at www.superlawvers.com/about/selection process detail.html. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
       Also, Kenneth Vercammen also passed the test to become one of the few Municipal Court Law Attorneys.
 SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY

    It is ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 1:39-5(a), the following named attorneys, having applied to the Board on Attorney Certification and having been found qualified by the Board, are hereby authorized to designate themselves as Municipal Court Law Attorneys before the public, the bar, and the courts of this State in accordance with the Rules of this Court during their good behavior for a term of five years from the date of this Order. ….. …… Kenneth Vercammen Middlesex

Kenneth Vercammen was selected to the 2018 Super Lawyers NJ list. The Super Lawyers list issued by Thomson Reuters which manages West Publishing USA.

    Kenneth Vercammen was selected to the 2018 Super Lawyers NJ list. The Super Lawyers list issued by Thomson Reuters which manages West Publishing USA.
 https://profiles.superlawyers.com/new-jersey/edison/lawyer/kenneth-a-vercammen/73f0b3a6-71c1-4ae1-a5d0-803ddb2739a9.html
 A description of the selection methodology can be found at www.superlawvers.com/about/selection process detail.html. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
       Also, Kenneth Vercammen also passed the test to become one of the few Municipal Court Law Attorneys.
 SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY

    It is ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 1:39-5(a), the following named attorneys, having applied to the Board on Attorney Certification and having been found qualified by the Board, are hereby authorized to designate themselves as Municipal Court Law Attorneys before the public, the bar, and the courts of this State in accordance with the Rules of this Court during their good behavior for a term of five years from the date of this Order. ….. …… Kenneth Vercammen Middlesex

Court finds lack of testamentary capacity here IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF JOAN MCFADDEN

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE
OF JOAN MCFADDEN, Deceased.
____________________________

           Argued February 6, 2018 – Decided February 22, 2018

           Before Judges Fasciale, Sumners and Moynihan.

           On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey,
           Chancery Division, Burlington County, Docket
           No. 2003-0952.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
                   APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
  This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court."
   Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the
     parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3.


                                    SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
                                    APPELLATE DIVISION
                                    DOCKET NO. A-2484-15T1

PER CURIAM John McFadden (defendant) appeals from a January 11, 2016 order directing him to repay and reconvey assets to Joan McFadden's (decedent's) estate and awarding counsel fees to Joseph R. McFadden and Vincent J. McFadden (collectively plaintiffs). We affirm. In July 1998, decedent executed two powers of attorney (POAs) and a Living Will-Durable Health Care Power appointing defendant (her nephew) as her agent and attorney in fact, and Mary Sexton (decedent's niece and defendant's sister) as her alternative agent and attorney in fact. The two POAs stated that they would become effective upon the following conditions: (1) incapacity declared by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) appointment of a conservator or guardian based upon incapacity; (3) certification of two licensed physicians that decedent was incapable of caring for herself and physically or mentally incapable of managing her financial affairs; or (4) upon executed certification of the decedent that the agent was fully authorized to act under the POAs. Plaintiffs assert there was no evidence at trial to prove the POAs' prerequisites were ever satisfied. More than a week later, decedent executed a will. The will made five specific bequests to three charitable organizations and to two friends. The will left the residue in equal parts to thirteen nieces and nephews. The will named defendant and Mary Sexton as co-executors of the estate. Decedent was plagued with a myriad of medical issues including Parkinson's disease, multiple accidents resulting in broken hips, and degenerative mental issues. Defendant assisted decedent with day-to-day tasks and even moved to her residence to provide her care. 2 A-2484-15T1 Decedent eventually moved to an assisted living facility, where she remained until her death. Defendant asserts that decedent expressed her wish for him to have her home, with a life estate reserved for herself, and for him to use her money to pay for his expenses so that he could remain in the area and take care of her. Plaintiffs assert no witness at trial could testify to this desire besides defendant. In April 2001, defendant met with decedent's lawyer and indicated that decedent wanted to gift him $50,000. Decedent's lawyer informed defendant that decedent could sign a care agreement whereby defendant would be paid $1500 per month as decedent's geriatric care manager. In May 2001, decedent's checking account shows withdrawals of $1200 per month. Defendant testified he did not know who received those checks. In May 2002, decedent's lawyer prepared a deed transferring decedent's home to defendant for one dollar of consideration; it was signed by defendant as decedent's attorney in fact. In October 2002, decedent passed away. In May 2003, Mary Sexton executed a Renunciation of Co- Executor; and defendant made an Application for Probate and was appointed the executor of decedent's estate. Defendant did not notify the beneficiaries listed in decedent's will that the will existed and had been probated. 3 A-2484-15T1 In 2006 and 2008, defendant executed a mortgage and a home equity line of credit. When defendant transferred the deed to himself, there were no outstanding mortgages or liens against the home. At trial, defendant testified there was approximately $285,000 outstanding on the home equity line of credit. In late 2011, plaintiffs became aware of decedent's will. Plaintiffs alleged defendant improperly used estate funds for his own expenses. In March 2012, plaintiffs filed a verified complaint alleging breach of fiduciary duty; conversion of estate assets; negligent performance of fiduciary duties; theft of estate assets; undue influence; lack of mental capacity; fraudulent transfer, alienation, and hypothecation of estate assets; tortious interference with the expectation of inheritance; and unjust enrichment. Following trial in July 2015, the judge found that decedent "clearly lacked testamentary capacity to change her will during the years 2001 and 2002 and clearly lacked the comprehension required to make an informed decision to allow [defendant] to reimburse himself for all the expenses that he clearly helped himself to." Furthermore, the judge found defendant totally lacks believability, totally lacks credibility, but what is also obvious to me is that he has not even one ounce of remorse in his soul . . . for all the transgressions he has committed in his obvious quest to loot 4 A-2484-15T1 his aunt's estate and to leave the cupboard bare for those nephews and nieces and other beneficiaries entitled to recover under the last will and testament of the decedent. The trial judge found that although defendant may have been a caring and loving nephew for most of decedent's life, "it is just as clear that he totally abandoned his obligations to her as a fiduciary under the power of attorney and as executor of her estate." He added, "[i]t is clear to me, and I find the record amply demonstrates, that [defendant] did his very best to intentionally hide the terms of his aunt's will from the siblings and other cousins," and found that the statute of limitations (SOL) would be equitably tolled. Further, he recounted numerous medical records that described decedent's diminished capacity to comprehend and communicate from 1999 to her death in 2002. He concluded that decedent "had zero testamentary capacity, zero capacity to make informed intelligent decisions" when defendant claims she made such decisions. The judge found that defendant exercised undue influence over decedent, evidenced by an unexecuted asset protection plan prepared by her lawyers that would have protected her home and other assets. The judge entered a final order finding: (1) the estate shall not recoup $10,000 defendant gifted to decedent's friend, a specific beneficiary in decedent's will; (2) defendant shall 5 A-2484-15T1 reconvey decedent's home to the estate, subject to the mortgage lien of record; (3) the parties shall inspect and inventory the personal property in the home; (4) defendant shall provide plaintiffs with documentation proving the mortgage was current as well as provide proof of payment of property taxes, homeowners insurance, and utilities; (5) defendant shall repay $422,576 to the estate, representing the outstanding mortgage balance, payments to defendant's American Express account, and other unaccounted for funds from decedent's account plus interest; (6) plaintiffs shall be entitled to counsel fees and costs totaling $126,875; and (7) the remaining $7000 in the estate shall remain frozen. On appeal, defendant argues the probate court erred by denying his motion for summary judgment; denying his subsequent cross- motion for a Lopez1 hearing; failing to stay the matter to permit defendant to intervene in the Law Division matter involving decedent's banks; shifting the burden of proof to defendant without first having disposed of the Lopez hearing issue; deeming laches and SOL inapplicable, and finding plaintiffs carried their burden with regard to equitable tolling; assessing damages, and making 1 Lopez v. Swyer, 62 N.J. 267, 275-76 (1973). 6 A-2484-15T1 findings of fact based upon documents and other information not in evidence; and the trial judge was biased. Defendant argues the pre-trial judge erred by denying his motion for summary judgment because defendant was decedent's attorney in fact, and the SOL and laches barred the action. When reviewing an order denying summary judgment, we apply "the same standard governing the trial court." Oyola v. Liu, 431 N.J. Super. 493, 497 (App. Div. 2013). We owe no deference to the motion judge's conclusions on issues of law. Manalapan Realty, LP v. Twp. Comm. of Manalapan, 140 N.J. 366, 378 (1995). A court should grant summary judgment when the record reveals "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and "the moving party is entitled to a judgment or order as a matter of law." R. 4:46-2(c). Applying these standards, we conclude that the pre-trial judge did not err in denying defendant's motion for summary judgment. Defendant relies on N.J.S.A. 2A:14-1, which provides: Every action at law for trespass to real property, for any tortious injury to real or personal property, for taking, detaining, or converting personal property, for replevin of goods or chattels, for any tortious injury to the rights of another not stated in sections 2A:14-2 and 2A:14-3 of this Title, or for recovery upon a contractual claim or liability, express or implied, not under seal, or upon an account other than one which concerns the trade or merchandise between merchant and merchant, their factors, agents and servants, shall be commenced within 6 7 A-2484-15T1 years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued. Defendant argues that because decedent passed away in October 2002 and plaintiffs filed their complaint in 2012 – over the six-year SOL – plaintiffs were time-barred or, alternatively, laches applied, entitling him to summary judgment. "Laches is an equitable doctrine, operating as an affirmative defense that precludes relief when there is an 'unexplainable and inexcusable delay' in exercising a right, which results in prejudice to another party." Fox v. Millman, 210 N.J. 401, 417-18 (2012) (quoting Cty. of Morris v. Fauver, 153 N.J. 80, 105 (1998)). Defendant argues plaintiffs had sufficient opportunity to inquire as to the status of the decedent's property and about the POA over the ten years since decedent's death. He also asserts that there was substantial unfairness to him in this case because of the amount of time that had passed. However, plaintiffs argue that the SOL only began to run in December 2011, when plaintiffs discovered the will. There existed genuine issues as to when the action accrued and when plaintiffs knew or should have known they had a claim, especially when viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs. The pre-trial judge found that defendant made efforts to conceal the will from the beneficiaries and recognized that 8 A-2484-15T1 plaintiffs only found the will in 2011. She wrote a comprehensive statement of reasons and concluded there were "many factual issues that preclude summary judgment." We agree. Next, defendant argues that the pre-trial judge improperly denied his cross-motion for a Lopez hearing to determine if he was entitled to relief from the SOL. We conclude this argument is without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We add the following brief comments. The pre-trial judge carefully considered whether to grant the Lopez hearing to determine when plaintiffs knew or should have known they had a cause of action. The judge determined she could consider the evidence on the SOL issue and perform the Lopez analysis without bifurcating the trial. The trial judge later heard testimony from witnesses to determine whether the SOL applied, conducted a full Lopez analysis, and recognized the burden of proof was on plaintiffs; and he determined that plaintiffs were entitled to equitable tolling. The decision not to bifurcate this issue was not an abuse of discretion, or prejudicial to defendant. Next, defendant argues that the pre-trial judge's decision not to stay the matter and allow defendant to intervene in a Law Division action where plaintiffs filed a complaint against decedent's bank and retirement funds institution was an abuse of discretion and clearly erroneous. Plaintiffs filed a motion to 9 A-2484-15T1 amend their verified complaint to add Morgan Stanley and Pentagon Federal Credit Union as additional defendants, but the motion was denied. Plaintiffs then filed a separate complaint against Morgan Stanley and Pentagon Federal Credit Union in the Law Division. Defendant filed a motion to stay the trial and consolidate the actions, however, the pre-trial judge denied the motion. We conclude this decision was neither an abuse of discretion nor erroneous. Rule 4:38-1 states, "[w]hen actions involving a common question of law or fact arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions are pending in the Superior Court, the court on a party's or its own motion may order the actions consolidated." (Emphasis added). Even if the other action involved a common question of law or fact, a judge uses his or her discretion to stay the matter and allow a party to intervene. In her statement of reasons denying the stay, the pre-trial judge explained "there is no substantial, immediate and irreparable harm if trial is to go forward," as defendant was not a named defendant in the Law Division action, and "the equities do not favor defendant who filed these motions to consolidate and stay the trial on the eve of trial." We see no error or abuse of discretion in the judge denying the stay. 10 A-2484-15T1 Next, defendant asserts that the trial judge improperly shifted the burden of proof to him mid-trial without conducting a Lopez analysis first. We disagree. This court will reverse a discretionary decision "when the stated 'findings were mistaken[,] . . . the determination could not reasonably have been reached on sufficient credible evidence present in the record[,]' or the judge 'failed to consider all of the controlling legal principles[.]'" Clark v. Clark, 429 N.J. Super. 61, 72 (App. Div. 2012) (alterations in original) (quoting Gonzalez-Posse v. Ricciardulli, 410 N.J. Super. 340, 354 (App. Div. 2009)). The trial judge, after plaintiffs presented their case, properly ruled without prejudice midtrial that the SOL did not bar the action and shifted the burden to defendant; yet made it clear that defendant could address Lopez and other discovery issues with testimony and other evidence for the judge to consider. Next, defendant argues that the trial judge's decision erroneously found that the defenses of laches and SOL did not apply, and that plaintiffs met their burden for equitable tolling. The standard of review of judgments or orders entered after bench trials is well-settled. The findings of the judge are binding on appeal if they are "supported by adequate, substantial and credible evidence." Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Inv'rs Ins. Co. of Am., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974). 11 A-2484-15T1 The judge found that defendant took steps to conceal the will from the beneficiaries and that the beneficiaries should not have known they had a cause of action before 2011. Plaintiffs filed the action in 2012, and the judge properly found they were not barred by the SOL under N.J.S.A. 2A:14-1. Laches is "an equitable defense that may be interposed in the absence of the [SOL]." Lavin v. Bd. of Educ., 90 N.J. 145, 151 (1982). The Court has explained that laches is "invoked to deny a party enforcement of a known right when the party engages in an inexcusable and unexplained delay in exercising that right to the prejudice of the other party." Knorr v. Smeal, 178 N.J. 169, 180- 81 (2003). "Laches may only be enforced when the delaying party had sufficient opportunity to assert the right in the proper forum and the prejudiced party acted in good faith believing that the right had been abandoned." Id. at 181. "Our courts have long recognized that laches is not governed by fixed time limits, but instead relies on analysis of time constraints that 'are characteristically flexible.'" Fox, 210 N.J. at 418 (citation omitted) (quoting Lavin, 90 N.J. at 151). Whether laches applies "depends upon the facts of the particular case and is a matter within the sound discretion of the trial court." Mancini v. Twp. of Teaneck, 179 N.J. 425, 436 (2004) (quoting Garrett v. Gen. Motors Corp., 844 F.2d 559, 562 (8th Cir. 1988)). 12 A-2484-15T1 In determining whether to apply laches, the court should consider the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, and any changing circumstances of the parties during the delay. Fauver, 153 N.J. at 105. As to the delay, the court should look to an analogous SOL, and laches applies where "a claim derived from a statutory right had been lost through failure to make a timely demand therefor." Fox, 210 N.J. at 420. Plaintiffs' delay in filing their verified complaint was excusable. The trial judge made factual findings that defendant did not act in good faith. Plaintiffs did not know they were beneficiaries in their aunt's will nor did they have reason to know. Defendant asserts plaintiffs had reason to inquire because defendant lived in decedent's house and plaintiffs attended decedent's funeral. However, defendant did not follow the proper procedure in notifying plaintiffs they were beneficiaries in the will pursuant to Rule 4:80-6 (requiring the executor of the estate to notify all beneficiaries within sixty days after the date of the probate of a will that the will has been probated). Defendant failed to notify any beneficiaries of the will's existence. We find that the trial judge properly determined that the SOL and laches did not bar this matter. As the judge stated, "[t]o allow the [d]efendant in this matter to avail himself of these 13 A-2484-15T1 defenses flies in the face of everything that a court of equity is [su]pposed to stand for." Next, defendant argues that damages were improper and the judge made findings based on information not in evidence. Defendant argues the judge erroneously added the mortgage on decedent's house to damages. However, this was not an error, as the judge decided the house should be returned to the estate. The house was not encumbered with any mortgages or liens when defendant transferred the deed to himself acting as decedent's attorney in fact. Accordingly, the amount of the mortgage outstanding should rightfully be returned to the estate. Defendant argues that some amounts that were withdrawn from decedent's bank account should not have been assessed as damages because there was no proof as to whom the checks were written. However, the judge performed a thorough analysis. He accounted for the known amounts decedent had as of April 2001, her known income from Social Security and pensions, her living expenses until her death, and her funeral expenses. The judge reviewed specific line items and decided not to add some of the checks to the damages. Furthermore, the judge rightfully assessed damages on behalf of the estate, rather than pro rata damages to plaintiffs. The judge stated, "my finding restores to the estate assets the testator intended for distribution and it is on her 14 A-2484-15T1 behalf that I act, should act, where such actions are warranted." The judge recognized that future accountings would most likely be required. Additionally, the judge did not improperly make findings of fact based on information not in evidence. N.J.R.E. 703 states: The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made known to the expert at or before the hearing. If of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence. Plaintiffs presented evidence by a doctor who properly relied upon decedent's medical reports and records. Thus, the judge's findings were adequately supported in the record. Lastly, defendant's argument that the judge was biased is without merit. Rule 1:12-1(g) states that a judge should be disqualified on the court's own motion "when there is any other reason which might preclude a fair and unbiased hearing and judgment, or which might reasonably lead counsel or the parties to believe so." Our Supreme Court has stated the applicable standard in determining whether disqualification is necessary: "Would a reasonable, fully informed person have doubts about the judge's impartiality?" DeNike v. Cupo, 196 N.J. 502, 517 (2008). 15 A-2484-15T1 "[A] judge need not 'withdraw from a case upon a mere suggestion that he is disqualified unless the alleged cause of recusal is known by him to exist or is shown to be true in fact.'" Chandok v. Chandok, 406 N.J. Super. 595, 603 (App. Div. 2009) (quoting Panitch v. Panitch, 339 N.J. Super. 63, 66 (App. Div. 2001)). Moreover, "the mere appearance of bias may require disqualification. However, before the court may be disqualified on the ground of an appearance of bias, the belief that the proceedings were unfair must be objectively reasonable." State v. Marshall, 148 N.J. 89, 279 (1997) (citations omitted). A reasonable, fully-informed person would not have doubts about the judge's impartiality. Any of the judge's comments or questions were part of the judge's fact-finding and analysis, as is his role in a bench trial. The judge took care to acknowledge that defendant cared for and must have loved his aunt. However, this love and care did not justify defendant's actions. Affirmed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spotswood Senior Center Wills, Estate Planning & Probate Seminar

Spotswood Senior Center Wills, Estate Planning & Probate Seminar
May 23 at 12:00 
Free community program 
Spotswood Senior Center
  
 WILLS & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION-PROTECT YOUR 
FAMILY AND MAKE PLANNING EASY 
 SPEAKER: Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. Edison, NJ (Author- Wills and Estate Administration by the ABA) 
The NJ Probate Law made a number of substantial changes in Probate and the administration of estates and trusts in New Jersey. 
Main Topics:
1. changes to NJ Estate Tax & changes to taxes on pensions 
2.  changes in Federal Estate and Gift Tax  
3. The New Probate Law and preparation of Wills
4. Power of Attorney  
5.  Living Will        
6.  Administering the Estate/ Probate/Surrogate
You do not have to be a resident to attend 
       COMPLIMENTARY MATERIAL: Brochures on Wills, "Answers to Questions about Probate" and Administration of an Estate, Power of Attorney, Living Wills, Real Estate Sales for Seniors, and Trusts. 
  For information contact 
Spotswood Senior Center

Materials:    2017 update Wills and Estate Planning Seminar materials
                By Kenneth Vercammen

1. NJ Estate Tax eliminated on Estates under $2,000,000 as of January 1, 2017
2. NJ Inheritance Tax stays if assets are going to persons other than spouse or children.
3. Federal Estate Tax exemption increased to $5.49 million in 2017 but gifts limited to $14,000 per person
4. Set up a testamentary trust in your Will for Protection for spouses and leaving assets to children: 
5. We recommend Self- Proving Wills since witnesses often move or pass away
6. The New Probate law NJ Senate Law No. 708 made a
7. NJ Supreme Court holds if an executor or trustee violates fiduciary duty they can be liable for attorneys fees
8. Power of Attorney- Do not use a form purchased online. 
9. Federal Health Privacy Law (HIPAA)- Have a new Living Will prepared
10. Competency required to sign a Will or Power of Attorney
    Materials also online at http://njprobate.blogspot.com/2017/01/2017-update-wills-and-estate-planning.html
1. NJ Estate Tax eliminated on Estates under $2,000,000 as of January 1, 2017
The new law phases out the estate tax over two years, by first replacing the current $675,000 threshold with a “true” exclusion amount established at $2.0 million for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2017, and then eliminating the estate tax for decedents dying on and after January 1, 2018. 
     P.L. 2016, c. 57 provides that the New Jersey Estate Tax exemption will increase from $675,000 to $2 million for the estates of resident decedents dying on or after January 1, 2017, but before January 1, 2018.  For these estates, the New Jersey Estate Tax no longer conforms to the provisions of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in effect on December 31, 2001 and instead follows the current federal Internal Revenue Code for determining the value of the estate, which will be subject to New Jersey Estate Tax.

New Jersey Estate Tax is not imposed on transfers of estates of resident decedents dying on or after January 1, 2018.

2. NJ Inheritance Tax must be paid if assets are going to persons other than spouse or children.
In addition to the Estate Tax, New Jersey imposes an Inheritance Tax on the estates of certain resident and nonresident decedents. P.L. 2016, c. 57 made no changes to the New Jersey Inheritance Tax.
Even if no inheritance tax due, a Tax Waiver on a house must still be obtained and filed if the house was not co-owned by the spouse.

INHERITANCE TAX BENEFICIARY CLASSES
Class A 
No Tax Parent 
Grandparent 
Spouse 
Child of a decedent (includes legally adopted child) 
Grandchild, great-grandchild, etc. of a decedent 
Stepchild of a decedent 
(does not include a step-grandchild or great-step grandchild) 
Mutually acknowledged child 
Civil union partner (after 2/19/2007) 
Domestic partner (after 7/10/2004) 
Class C Brother or sister of a decedent 
Spouse or surviving spouse of a child of a decedent 
Civil union partner or surviving civil union partner (after 2/19/2007) of a child of a decedent 
Class D Anyone not included in Classes A, C, or E 
Class E 
No Tax Including, but not limited to:
Qualified charities
Religious institutions
Educational and medical institutions
Non-profit benevolent or scientific institutions
The State of New Jersey or any of its political subdivisions 
See exempt organizations Exempt Organizations:
"Class E transferee" means any of the following:
The State of New Jersey or any political subdivision thereof;
Any educational institution, church, hospital, orphan asylum, public library or Bible and tract society or to, for the use of or in trust for any institution or organization organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, benevolent, scientific, literary or education purposes, including any institution instructing the blind in the use of dogs as guides, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private stockholder or other individual or corporation; provided, that the exemption does not extend to transfers of property to such education institutions and organizations of other states, the District of Columbia, territories and foreign countries which do not grant an equal and like exemption of transfers of property for the benefit of such institutions and organizations of this State.

2017 INHERITANCE TAX RATES

Class A- No tax is due

Class C
First $25,000.......................No tax is due
Next $1,075,000................ 11%
Next $300,000..................... 13%
Next $300,000..................... 14%
Over $1,700,000................... 16%

Class D [other people]
First $700,000......................... 15%*
Over $700,000......................... 16%

Class E- charities
No tax is due

3. Federal Estate Tax exemption increased to $5.49 million in 2017 but gifts limited to $14,000 per person

For 2017, the estate and gift tax exemption is $5.49 million per individual, up from $5.45 million in 2016.
    That means an individual can leave $5.49 million to heirs and pay no federal estate or gift tax. A married couple will be able to shield just shy of $11 million ($10.98 million) from federal estate and gift taxes. 
The annual gift exclusion remains at $14,000 for 2017.

      Gifts permitted without Federal Estate & Gift tax remained at $14,000 per person. Gift Exclusions
The annual exclusion for gifts is $11,000 (2004-2005), $12,000 (2006-2008), $13,000 (2009-2012) and $14,000 (2013-2017).
However, the amount permitted for Medicaid transfers is zero. 

4. Set up a testamentary trust in your Will for Protection for spouses and leaving assets to children: 
The Credit Shelter Trust (sometimes referred to as a “Bypass Trust” or an “A/B Trust”) was a popular estate planning technique used by married couples with combined assets to avoid the NJ Estate Tax. A Testamentary Trust (sometimes referred to as a Will trust or trust under will) is a trust, which arises upon the death of the testator [person who signed the Will]. A Credit Shelter Trust is a type of Testamentary Trust.
The purpose of the Credit Shelter Trust was to avoid the wasting of federal and state exemptions on the death of the first spouse. Instead of leaving all assets to the surviving spouse and thereby exposing the surviving spouse’s estate to more tax, Nursing Home & Medicaid issues, plus elective share by a future spouse, both spouse’s Wills are drafted to establish a Credit Shelter Trust to come into existence and be funded on the first spouse’s death. 
Since NJ is eliminating the NJ Tax, a Testamentary Trust within the Will is still a useful device to help ensure children and grandchildren with receive money down the road. Otherwise, the surviving spouse can spend all the money in Atlantic City. The surviving spouse could also get remarried and do a new Will leaving all assets to the new spouse. Many families want to protect at least some of the money from wasteful spending or a new spouse.
In a typical Testamentary Trust, the surviving spouse is entitled to receive all of the income from the Trust for his or her lifetime, and has the right to demand principal distributions for his or her health, education, support and maintenance in his or her accustomed manner of living. Distributions in excess of that standard require the cooperation of a Co-Trustee – often an adult child of the surviving spouse or a trust department of a bank.
If the Testamentary Trust technique is implemented as part of a Client’s Estate Plan, you can hire the attorneys for a separate fee  to assist the Client in re-titling his or her assets so that assets are available to fund the Credit Shelter Trust. Re-titling is necessary because most Clients tend to hold assets jointly with right of survivorship and assets must be titled individually in a person’s name in order to be eligible to fund a Testamentary Trust. We work with a tax attorney to help our clients. Protect your money if you pass away and your spouse gets re-married or has to go into a nursing home.
Some persons even hire an attorney to set up a personal residence trust or irrevocable trust and have the assets taken out of your name and put into a trust or given to children and grandchildren in the trust. Minimum fees for trust are $3,000. This is not something a non-attorney can do on their own. It is also illegal for a non-attorney to provide legal advice or prepare most legal documents. 
Beware of the “Elective share” rights of a new spouse. Have a Prenuptial Agreement if entering into a 2nd marriage
    Currently, the new spouse who is not given money in a Will can challenge the terms of the Will. This is called "electing against the Will by a spouse". A spouse could receive up to 1/3 of the estate, even if only married for 2 weeks. The spouse must file a Caveat or lawsuit in Superior Court.  We suggest a formal prenuptial agreement in 2nd marriage situations. If there is no Will, the new spouse receives 50% of the estate even if only married three days.

5. We recommend Self- Proving Wills since witnesses often move or pass away
An old New Jersey Probate law required one of the two witnesses to a Will to travel and appear in the Surrogate’s office and sign an affidavit to certify they were a witness. This often created problems when the witness was deceased, moved away, or simply could not be located.  Some witnesses would require a $500 fee to simply sign a surrogate paper. My Grandmother’s Will was not self- proving, and the witness to Will extorted a $500 fee.
The New Jersey Legislature later passed a law to create a type of Will called a “Self-Proving Will.”  In such a Will, the person for whom the Will is made must sign.  Then two witnesses sign.  Then the attorney or notary must sign; with certain statutory language to indicate the Will is self-proving.  Beware of online documents not prepared by an attorney
When done properly, the executor does not have to locate any witnesses. This usually saves time and money.  If your Will is not “self-proving” or if you are unsure, schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney. Some law offices ignore the revised law, and fail to prepare self proving Wills. Do not use a law office that follows old methods and does not do a self-proving Will.

6. The New Probate law NJ Senate Law No. 708 made a number of substantial changes to the NJ probate laws.
  Non-formal writings could be Wills under the New Probate Law provisions governing the administration of estates and trusts in New Jersey.  So make sure you have a Formal Will drafted by an estate attorney.
You must have your original Will. A photocopy cannot be admitted to probate. Don’t leave the original in a Wells Fargo safe deposit box that cannot easily be accessed by Executor 2.
  The law expanded situations where writings that are intended as Wills would be allowed, but requires that the burden of proof on the proponent would be by clear and convincing evidence. Possibly a Christmas card with handwritten notes could be presented as a Will or Codicil. To present a non-formal Will or writing requires an expensive Complaint and Order to Show Cause to be filed in the Superior Court, and a hearing in front of a Superior Court Judge. Be careful; have a Will done properly by an experienced attorney.

7. NJ Supreme Court holds if an executor or trustee violates fiduciary duty they can be liable for attorneys fees
In the Matter of the Estate of Adrian J. Folcher (A-3-14) (074590) the NJ Supreme Court addressed improper acts by family members in the handling of money and assets. In case of In re Niles Trust, 176 N.J. 282 (2003) the Court declared that “when an executor or trustee commits the pernicious tort of undue influence, an exception to the American Rule is created that permits the estate to be made whole by an assessment of all reasonable counsel fees against the fiduciary that were incurred by the estate.” 176 N.J. at 298-99. The Court explained that “[a] fiduciary relationship exists between a trustee and the trust[,] similar to the attorney-client relationship,” and that “[both the attorney and a trustee act as officers of the court when acting on behalf of clients and beneficiaries.” Id. at 297. The Court concluded that non-attorney status should not prevent an award of attorneys’ fees in suits against trustees or executors for undue influence. Id. at 299.
Thus, Niles created an exception to the American Rule in trustee or executor undue influence cases “based on the fiduciary’s intentional misconduct regardless of his or her professional status.” Id. at 300.
Underscoring the foundational importance of the finding of undue influence that supported fee-shifting to a fiduciary and his facilitating cohort in Niles, the Supreme Court declined to extend that fee-shifting exception in the circumstances presented in Vayda. There, a non-attorney executor of an estate was found to have acted negligently and with bad faith in his administration of the estate, but he was not found to have committed undue influence. Vayda, supra, 184 N.J. at 124. Reaffirming New Jersey’s “strong public policy against” fee shifting, ibid. (quoting Niles, supra, 176 N.J. at 293), the Court unanimously resisted the plea to extend Niles. The Court pointed out instead that Rule 4:42-9(a)(3) provides a specific remedy in probate actions; attorneys’ fees could be paid from the estate. Ibid.
Five years later, our decision in Stockdale, supra, reaffirmed, albeit in dicta, the narrowness of our fee-shifting exception created in Niles. 196 N.J. at 307 (emphasizing that Niles was “directed solely to circumstances in which ‘an executor or trustee commits the pernicious tort of undue influence’” (quoting Niles, supra, 176 N.J. at 298)). The circumstances of Stockdale provide guidance in the present matter.
Stockdale was a wealthy, elderly, reclusive woman in declining health, who had planned to leave much of her estate to a local charity (the first aid squad), when her neighbor Sollitto insinuated himself into her life. Id. at 284-86. Through a series of orchestrated acts, Sollitto with help from an attorney friend, Casale, had Stockdale deed her home to Sollitto; amend her will; name Casale the executor of the estate; make Sollitto the residual beneficiary; and forgive the purchase-money mortgage she took when Sollitto purchased her home that covered almost the entirety of the purchase price. Id. at 290-94.
The trial court found that the Will was unenforceable as the product of undue influence. Id. at 297. The transfer of Stockdale’s home, including the deed and the contract of sale, was also found to be unenforceable. Ibid. The trial court reinstated the original will -- the will naming the local charity as the residual beneficiary. Ibid. Relying on Niles, the trial court granted the charity attorneys’ fees as a form of punitive damages, reasoning that undue influence is a form of intentional tort that can sustain a fee award. Ibid. According to the trial court, the fee award was a measure of punitive damages that was necessary to make the estate whole. Ibid.
The Appellate Division reversed the fee award and “remanded for consideration of an award of punitive damages.” Id. at 298. The fee award was not supported “under Niles because Stockdale’s estate was not financially depleted by Casale’s and Sollitto’s conduct.” Ibid.
Sollitto, and not the first aid squad, filed a petition for certification, arguing that Niles did not authorize a punitive award. Id. at 299. Thus the issue before this Court was not the reversal of the fee award but rather whether punitive damages could be a remedy for the undue influence tort in probate proceedings.
This Court found that punitive damages were available in the probate part in the rare case. Id. at 304. The Supreme Court noted that, in the usual undue influence case, “undue influence is not a separately pleaded tort, but is the analytical framework within which the decision about whether to admit a will to probate is made.” Ibid. The main issue normally is which will to admit to probate. Ibid. If none of the competing parties has gained control of the estate, the estate has suffered no loss, and “the only remedy sought is the admission of a particular will to probate.” Ibid.
However, the Supreme Court explained that a tort-based claim for compensatory damages can be asserted when the estate has suffered loss, if, for example, one of the parties has depleted the estate’s assets. Ibid. Even then, a compensatory award will be rare because equitable relief will usually suffice. Id. at 304-05. An executor is generally entitled to a commission based on the value of the estate; but if an executor engages in misconduct, his commission may be surcharged, and his monies offset by the loss he caused the estate. Id. at 305. Further, the Supreme Court explained that the surcharge “does not equate with a compensatory award.” Ibid. When those remedies prove inadequate, a compensatory award, and in turn a punitive award, can be justified. Id. at 309.
Those who hold the legal title of executor or trustee plainly owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate or the trust respectively. But there is no dispute on this record that Bernice was not Folcher’s executor and that she did not owe a formal fiduciary duty to the Estate or to its beneficiaries. Bernice was in a confidential relationship with only her husband. The burden of establishing undue influence rests with the party contesting the will. However, “[when there is a confidential relationship coupled with suspicious circumstances, undue influence is presumed and the burden of proof shifts to the Will proponent to overcome the presumption.” Stockdale, supra, 196 N.J. at 303.

8. Power of Attorney- Do not use a form purchased online.
      A Power of Attorney should contain reference to the NJ statute requiring banks to honor the Power of Attorney. Section 2 of P.L. 1991, c. 95 (c. 46:2B-11). A NJ bank does not have honor a Power of Attorney without the NJ language.

9. Federal Health Privacy Law (HIPAA)- Have a new Living Will prepared
         A federal regulation known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was adopted regarding disclosure of individually identifiable health information. This necessitated the addition of a special release and consent authority to all healthcare providers before medical information will be released to agents and interested persons of the patients.     
       The effects of HIPAA are far reaching, and can render previously executed estate planning documents useless, without properly executed amendments, specifically addressing these issues.
        Any previously executed Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, and certainly all Medical Directives now require HIPAA amendments.  After you sign the Living Will in your attorney’s office, provide a copy to your doctor and family.
         Powers of attorneys and Living Wills should be updated to reference this new law. More information on the HIPAA law at http://www.njlaws.com/hipaa.htm
      
10. Competency required to sign a Will or Power of Attorney
     Attorneys cannot prepare a Power of Attorney, Will or any other legal document unless a person is mentally competent. If someone is unable to come into our office, we require the client or client’s family to have the treating Doctor sign the “Doctor Certification of Patient Capacity to Sign Legal Documents” It is the client or client’s family’s responsibility to contact the doctor, obtain the signed Certification at the clients’ expense, and then provide the law office with the original signed Certification. A Law Office cannot accept phone calls stating someone is competent. Therefore, it is wise do have your documents drafted while you can drive and are healthy.

More information on Wills and Probate at
http://njwillsprobatelaw.com 
      To schedule an appointment for Wills and Estate Planning 
Contact KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW 2053 Woodbridge Ave. Edison, NJ 08817(Phone) 732-572-0500  
If you or anyone you know needs an updated Will, Power of Attorney or Living Will, please have them fill out our confidential interview from and schedule a consult.
KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave
Edison, NJ  08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500 (Fax) 732-572-0030
"CONFIDENTIAL WILL QUESTIONNAIRE"
         Please fill out completely and fax or mail back. This form is extremely important. Your accuracy and completeness in responding will help me best represent you. All sections and information must be filled out prior to sitting down with the attorney.
         Please be sure to check all appropriate boxes. If "NONE", please state "NONE". 
If "NOT APPLICABLE", please state "N/A" or none.
PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY
1. Your Full Name: _______________________________

2.    IF MARRIED OR SEPARATED, complete (a) and (b) below:
(a) Spouse's Full Name:

________________________             
First                                Last

3.  Your Street Address: _________________________     

City ________________ State ____  Zip Code ______________
             
4.    Telephone Numbers:                

Cell: _______________________________    ___________________
                                                                                      
Day: ____________________/Night: ________________________

5.    E-mail address: _______________________________________

6. Referred By: ___________________________________________
         If referred by a person, is this a client or attorney?  If you heard about the law office on the Internet, what search terms did you use?

7. Today's Date ____________________

       We recommend a Durable Power of Attorney in the event of your physical
or mental disability to help you with financial affairs? 
                                                                           Yes ________  No ________

        We recommend a Living Will telling hospitals and doctors not to prolong your life by artificial means, i.e. Terri Schiavo; Karen Quinlan?      
                                                                          Yes ________  No ________
Confidential Will Q                   Rev 1/12/16
How can we help you? What are your questions/other important information?

_______________________________________________________
[It is required by Court Rules that all pages be filled out in person's own handwriting prior to seeing the attorney]
8.    Your Marital Status:        [  ] Single        [  ]  Married         [  ]  Separated                       [  ] Divorced        [  ]  Widowed   [  ] Domestic Partner

9.  Your Day/Month  of birth:  ___________________   
10.  Spouse Day/Month of birth:  _________________   
11.  If you are the parent or legal guardian of a minor child or minor children, please check here.  [   ]
2.  ESTATE EXECUTOR
         The person charged with administering/Probating your estate, paying taxes and/or other debts, preserving, managing, and distributing estate assets and property is called an Executor. This person should be one in whom you have trust and confidence. Your SPOUSE is usually named as primary Executor, followed by the child who lives closest to your home.
         Please provide the following information about the person you wish to name to serve in this capacity.
1. PRIMARY Choice of Executor/Personal Representative in Power of Attorney:

Name: _________________     ______________________________
            First              Last

Relationship: _______________ Address: _________________

2. SECOND Choice of Executor/Personal Representative in Power of Attorney:
         This individual will serve in the event that the primary executor/personal representative is not alive at the time of your death, or is unable to serve.

Name: _________________________     _____________________
            First                     Last

Relationship: _______________  Address: ________________
   The two proposed Executors must be filled out prior to meeting the attorney. We do not recommend Joint Executors, which often cause conflicts and additional work for the Estate. It is best to select one primary person, then a secondary person.

Asset Information- Must Be Completed - If none, write “none”

House/Real Estate Address  __________________________

Estimate Total Real Estate Value: ________ Approx mortgage _____

Bank Accounts, Stocks, CDs and Assets: __________________

Approximate Amount ____________________________

Direct Beneficiaries of Accounts - If none write "none" ________

Other Major Assets - If none, write "none" _______________

Approximate Life Insurance: ___________  Beneficiary _______

In the Will- Who do you want to get your assets:

Beneficiary (1) __________________ Relationship _______________

Beneficiary (2) _______________ Relationship _______________

Beneficiary (3) ___________ Relationship _______________
    It is required that assets and beneficiaries be filled out prior to seeing the attorney
Any Specific Bequests of Money and Property:
______________________________________________________

[  ] A. MARRIED PERSONS WITH CHILD(REN) OR GRANDCHILD(REN).
       Generally most married people provide that, upon their death, property will be distributed as follows:
         1. Your estate (all property and assets not owned jointly with another person) will be distributed to your surviving spouse.
         2. If your spouse predeceases you, then your estate will be divided in equal shares among all of your living children, If any child shall predecease you, then that child's share to their children (grandchildren).

Names of Children:  ________________________   

LIST THE NAMES AND AGES OF ALL CHILDREN EVEN IF THEY ARE OLDER THAN EIGHTEEN. IF NO CHILDREN, WRITE NONE. If no  minor children, skip page 5.

III. GUARDIAN(S) OF MINOR CHILD(REN) or Trustees of Trust
       [Skip this section if you have NO minor children and DO NOT want a trust. There are substantial additional fees for preparation of a Trust, minimum $2,500 for stand alone trusts]
       The surviving parent of a minor child is ordinarily entitled to be the GUARDIAN of that child. In the case of simultaneous death of you and your spouse, or if you are a single parent, you should appoint a Guardian for your minor child. It is advisable, prior to the completion of this Questionnaire, to make sure that your proposed Guardian(s) is (are) willing to serve as Guardian(s). In addition, the Guardian will also hold the monies for the minor children UNLESS you direct us otherwise. In your Will you can have any adult serve as Trustee of monies for minor children.
         Provide the following information about the person(s) you select to be Guardian(s)/Trustee(s). In the event my spouse predeceases me, I name as GUARDIAN(S)/ TRUSTEE(S):

1.  PRIMARY Choice of GUARDIAN / TRUSTEE:

Full Name: _______________________________________

Relationship: ______________________________________

2.   SECOND Choice of GUARDIAN / TRUSTEE:

Full Name: _______________________________________

Relationship: _____________________________________
[  ] B. MARRIED PERSONS WITH NO CHILD(REN) OR GRANDCHILD(REN).
       Generally most married people with no child(ren) or grandchild(ren) provide that upon their death their property will be distributed as follows:
1. Your estate (all property and assets not owned jointly with another person) will be distributed to your surviving spouse, but
2. If your spouse predeceases you, then your estate will be distributed to your living parent, or equally to your living parents. 
3. But should both of your parents predecease you, then your estate will distributed equally to your brothers and sisters or equally to the children of a predeceased brother or sister.
         Please check B above only if you wish your property distributed precisely and exactly as indicated in section B, 1 through 3, above.
   Additional information on Wills, Probate and Elder Law available at www.njlaws.com This form online at www.njlaws.com/will_questionnaire.htm

[ ] C. DIVORCED OR WIDOWED PERSONS WITH CHILD(REN) OR GRANDCHILD(REN). Generally, most divorced or widowed persons with child(ren) or grandchild(ren) provide that upon their death property will be distributed as follows:  1. Your estate (all property and assets not owned jointly with another person) will be distributed in equal shares to all of your living child(ren).
         2. But if one or more of your children predeceases you, that deceased child's share will be distributed to his or her child(ren), your grandchild(ren) in equal shares
          [  ] D. ALTERNATE PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION - You may list specific gifts to individuals and/or divide your estate among several individuals by listing percentages to each, making sure that the percentages total 100%. You may add additional sheets if necessary or use the back of this form.  There are additional Will preparation fees if there are gifts, called specific bequests.
       Are there any beneficiaries with special needs, or receiving SSI or SDD? Please answer in detail
          ____________________________________
    Are you or any of your Beneficiaries  are not United States citizens? _______
If not US citizen, extra taxes apply.
Do you have any religious wishes on burial? ___
       PLEASE WRITE DOWN ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE HERE or anything else important that we should be aware. Use back of this page for additional important information:

_____________________________________________________
ESTATE PLANNING
    Your estate may be subject to NJ Estate Taxation if the total of your assets exceeds $2,000,000.  If your assets exceed $2,000,000 and you desire estate planning to avoid or reduce your estate tax or require a Trust to protect a spouse, please advise Mr. Vercammen.  A Standard Will is not designed to address estate tax issues. We do not do Medicaid Nursing Home Planning.
                  WILLS:
T 1- Parents with minor children and trust for children                 ____________
T 2- Parents no spouse   ____________
T 3 Unmarried             ____________
T 4- Parents without trust   ____________
T 5- Spouse/ Children Trust if assets over $1 million?                  ____________

         PAYMENT WILL BE MADE BY:  (Please circle one)
Check, Credit Card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) or Cash
Checks are payable to Vercammen PC
         Payment is required for Will, Power of Attorney and other document preparation at the first consult and prior to any documents being drafted. Minimum fee for Last Will and Testament preparation is $200 each. We charge a $150.00 consultation fee, which is credited to the preparation of the Will or other document. This $150.00 fee is non-refundable even if the documents are not prepared. If there are any changes to a draft Will, Power of Attorney, or other document, there will be a minimum charge of $75.00 per revision. The Will needs to be signed within 21 days of initial consult or an additional fee of $100.00 will be charged. Due to complexity and need to re-title assets, Fees for Trusts are minimum $2,500.

This form was filled out by:  _________________________
                                    sign name
 Copyright 2017 Vercammen Law
WILLS AND ESTATE PLANNING
"SAVE MONEY AND PROVIDE FOR YOUR LOVED ONES "
By Kenneth A. Vercammen, Esq.  

As average Americans, we work 80,000 hours in a lifetime, or 45 to 55 years.  In spite of all the resources and assets we earn, the vast majority of us do not take the time to create a Will.
National statistics indicate that 80% of Americans die without leaving a Will.  There are several reasons for this: fear of death; procrastination; and misinformation (people presume that only the rich need to have Wills).  Whatever the excuse, it is clear that people would benefit from having a Will.

In the absence of a Will or other legal arrangement to distribute property at death, problems arise.  The result can be lengthy delays before the rightful heirs receive their property.  And because the state has no instructions from the deceased, no charitable gifts will be made.

IF YOU HAVE NO WILL:
 
If you leave no Will or your Will is declared invalid because it was improperly prepared or is not admissible to probate:
* State law determines who gets assets, not you
* Additional expenses will be incurred and extra work will be required to qualify an administrator
* Judge determines who gets custody of your children
* Possible additional State inheritance taxes and Federal estate taxes
*  If you have no spouse or close relatives the State may take your property
 * The procedure to distribute assets becomes more complicated-and   the law makes no exceptions for persons in unusual need or for your own wishes.
*  It may also cause fights and lawsuits within your family
When loved ones are grieving and dealing with death, they shouldn’t be overwhelmed with Financial concerns.  Careful estate planning helps take care of that.
SAVE MONEY BY HAVING YOUR ATTORNEY PREPARE A NEW WILL
 Your estate will be subject to probate whether or not you have a Will and in most cases, a Will reduces the cost by eliminating the requirements of a bond.  With a well-drawn  Will, you may also reduce death taxes and other expenses.  Don’t pinch pennies now to the detriment of  your beneficiaries. We have attempted to briefly explain in this article some of the issues, techniques, and decisions involved in Wills, Estate Planning, and Administration of an Estate.  Because the matters covered are complicated and the Federal and New Jersey laws frequently change,  this article can only outline some of the many legal issues you should  consider. 

The proper preparation of a Will should involve a careful analysis of  the client’s assets, family and his/her desires.  
         Estate Planning is the process of examining what will happen to your property when you die and arranging for its distribution in such a manner as will accomplish your objectives. 
         The cost of a Will depends on the size and the complexity of the estate and the plans of the person who makes the Will.  

         A properly drawn Basic Will without Trust costs approximately $300.00 to $600.00. It is one of the most important documents you will ever sign, and may be one of the best bargains you will ever have.
         Be sure your Will takes into account the Federal Tax changes and New Jersey Inheritance Tax changes.  Also, ascertain if your Will is “self-proving”, which would dispense with having to find the Will’s witnesses after death and pay for them to appear before the Surrogate.

WHAT IS A WILL?
         
         “A Will is a Legal  written document which, after your death, directs how your individually owned property will be distributed, who will be in charge of your property until it is distributed and  who will take care of your  minor children if the other parent should die ".  You should remember that the term “property” under the law includes "real estate as well as other possessions and rights to receive money or items of value.”  Everyone who has at least $3,000 in assets should have a Will.   You do not have to be wealthy, married, or near death to do some serious thinking about your Will.


THE FOLLOWING IS A SAMPLE OF A VARIETY OF CLAUSES AND ITEMS WHICH  YOUR ATTORNEY MAY INCLUDE IN A WILL:

1ST:  DEBTS AND TAXES
2ND: SPECIFIC BEQUESTS
3RD:  DISPOSITION TO SPOUSE
4TH: DISPOSITION OF REMAINDER OF ESTATE
5TH: CREATION OF TRUSTS FOR SPOUSE
6TH: CREATION OF TRUST FOR CHILDREN
7TH: OTHER BENEFICIARIES UNDER 21
8TH: EXECUTORS
9TH: TRUSTEES
10TH: GUARDIANS
11TH: SURETY OR BOND
12TH: POWERS 
13TH: AFTERBORN CHILDREN
14TH: PRINCIPAL AND INCOME
15TH: NO ASSIGNMENT OF BEQUESTS
16TH: GENDER
17TH: CONSTRUCTION OF WILL
18TH:  NO CONTEST CLAUSE and NO BEQUEST
A Will must not only be prepared within the legal requirements of the New Jersey Statutes but should also be prepared so it leaves no questions regarding your intentions.

WHY PERIODIC  REVIEW IS ESSENTIAL
Even if you have an existing Will, there are many events that occur which may necessitate changes in your Will.  Some of these are:
     
* Marriage, death, birth, divorce or separation affecting either you or  anyone named in your Will

*Significant changes in the value of  your total assets or in any particular assets, which you own
     
* A change in your domicile
     
* Death or incapacity of a beneficiary, or death, incapacity or change in residence of a named executor, trustee or guardian of infants, or of one of the witnesses to the execution of the Will

*Annual changes in tax law
  
MAY I CHANGE MY WILL?
Yes.  A Will may be modified, added to, or entirely changed at any time before your death provided you are mentally and physically competent and desire to change your Will.  You should consider revising your Will whenever there are changes in the size of your estate. For example, when your children are young, you may think it best to have a trust for them so they do not come into absolute ownership of  property until they are mature.  Beware, if you draw lines through items, erase or write over, or add notations to the original Will, it can be destroyed as a legal document.  Either a new Will should be legally prepared or a codicil signed to legally change  portions of the Will. 

You can also disinherit a child or grandchild. Your attorney should add a specific clause to the Will.

ADMINISTRATION OF  AN  ESTATE
If you are named the executor, you must visit the County Surrogate to probate the Will.  You will need the following items:
1. The Death  Certificate
2. The Original Will
3. Names and Addresses of decedent's, next of kin and list of beneficiaries
4. Minimum of $130.00 for Surrogate fees

A NJ state inheritance tax return must be filed if real estate is left and the tax may be required on the transfer of real or personal property within eight months after death.
OTHER ITEMS OF CONCERN TO BE PREPARED BY YOUR ATTORNEY
-Trusts (and Medicare Trusts)
-Power of Attorney- to allow a trusted person to  administer your assets during your lifetime, either  upon disability or now
-Living Wills- to state your wishes concerning  medical care in the event of your serious illness
Kenneth A. Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 125 articles in national and New Jersey publications on litigation topics.  He has been selected to lecture to trial lawyers by the American Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association.  
       Call our office to schedule a confidential appointment 732-572-0500
KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
                                  (Fax) 732-572-0030                      

    Free Will Seminars and Speakers Bureau for Groups 
10 years ago the AARP Network Attorneys of the Edison/Metuchen/Woodbridge area several years ago established a community Speakers Bureau to provide educational programs to AARP and senior clubs, Unions and Middlesex County companies. Now, Ken Vercammen, Esq. and volunteer attorneys of the Middlesex County Estate Planning Council have provided Legal Rights Seminars to hundreds of seniors, business owners and their employees, unions, clubs and non-profit groups. For additional information on the Legal Seminars, contact our Coordinator, Kenneth Vercammen's law office at (732) 572-0500, email VercammenLaw@njlaws.com  
Details on free programs available

These quality daytime educational programs will educate and even entertain. Clubs and companies are invited to schedule a free seminar. The following Seminars are now available: 
1. WILLS & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION-PROTECT YOUR FAMILY AND 
MAKE PLANNING EASY 
2. POWER OF ATTORNEY to permit family to pay your bills if you are temporarily disabled and permit doctors to talk with family 
       All instructors are licensed attorneys who have been in practice at least 25 years. All instructors are members of the American Bar Association, New Jersey 
State Bar Association, and Middlesex County Bar Association. All programs include free written materials. 

       You don't have to be wealthy or near death to do some thinking about a Will. Here is your opportunity to listen to an experienced attorney who will discuss how to distribute your property as you wish and avoid many rigid provisions of state law. 

      Topics discussed include: Who needs a Will?; What if you die without a Will (intestacy)?; Mechanics of a Will; "Living Will"; Powers of Attorney; Selecting an executor, trustee, and guardian; Proper Will execution; Inheritance Taxes, Estate Taxes  14,000 annual gift tax exclusion,  Bequests to charity, Why you need a "Self-Proving" Will and  Estate Administration/ Probate.

       Sample materials: Hand-outs on Wills, Living Wills/Medical Advance Directive, Power of Attorney, Probate and Administration of an Estate, Real Estate, Working with your Attorney, Consumers Guide to New Jersey Laws, and Senior Citizen Rights. 

SPEAKERS BUREAU 

At the request of senior citizen groups, unions, and Middlesex County companies and organizations, the " Speakers Bureau " is a service designed to educate citizens about how laws affect their lives and how the judicial system operates. We have attorneys available to speak to businesspersons, educational, civic and social organizations on a wide range of topics during business hours. 

In today's complex world, few people can function successfully and safely without competent legal advice. In order to insure your estate plans are legally set up, you need to know exactly where you stand so that you can avoid possibly catastrophic mistakes impacting both you and your family. 

About the speaker: Kenneth A. Vercammen is a trial attorney in Edison, NJ. We is the author of the American Bar Association’s book “Wills and Estate Administration”
He is co-chair of the ABA Probate & Estate Planning Law Committee of the American Bar Association Solo Small Firm Division.  He is a speaker for the NJ State Bar Association at the annual Nuts & Bolts of Elder Law & Estate Administration program. 
He was Editor of the ABA Estate Planning Probate Committee Newsletter. Mr. Vercammen has published over 150 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on litigation, elder law, probate and trial topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation and probate law for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He established the NJlaws website www.njlaws.com which includes many articles on Estate Planning, Probate and Wills. He is a member of the AARP and often lectures to groups on the importance of an up to date Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will.
 KENNETH  VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
 (Fax)    732-572-0030

www.njlaws.com