Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. handles Probate, Estate Administration and Wills. He is author of the ABA's book "Wills and Estate Administration".

New clients email us evenings and weekends go to

He was a speaker at the American Bar Association ABA Annual meeting and is Co-Chair of the Probate & Estate Planning Committee.
To schedule a confidential consultation, email us at or call.
Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C.
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(732) 572-0500

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Wills and Estate Planning for Physical Therapists

Wills and Estate Planning for Physical Therapists

By Kenneth Vercammen, Esq.

Where there’s No Will …

    If you do not write a Will, the State has already written one for you. Your assets go to whoever a state law says receives the assets, or to the government itself!  A Will should be a statement to the things you truly care about: your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, your Church and charities.   

It is important to do secession planning. Also, if you have partners in your business, a signed partnership agreement is valuable. Make sure you also have a Power of Attorney signed to plan for temporary disability. If your business is the primary support of family, how will your business continue to operate? How can your business be sold? It’s time for a call to action.

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:

1. People you dislike or people who dislike and ignore you may get your assets.
2. State law determines who gets assets, not you
3. Additional expenses will be incurred and extra work will be required to qualify an administrator-Surety Bond, additional costs and legal fees
4. You lose the opportunity to try to reduce Estate Tax, State inheritance taxes and Federal estate taxes
5. A Judge determines who gets custody of children. A greedy brother or crazy mother in law could ask the court for custody.
6. If you have no spouse or close relatives the State may take your property
7. The procedure to distribute assets becomes more complicated
8.  It probably will cause fights and lawsuits within your family
9. If no partnership agreement or procedure to transfer patient files your business good will could be lost.
When loved ones are grieving and dealing with death, they shouldn’t be overwhelmed with Financial concerns. 

         Think- Who don’t you want to receive your assets?  Without a Will, they could receive your assets and request custody of children.

         Who is not the best choice to raise your children, or safeguard your children's money for college?   Do you want children, or grandchildren, to get money when they turn 18?  Will they invest money wisely, or go to Seaside and play games?

         Business assets

It is important to prepare a Will which sets forth distribution of a valuable property such as the good will of your business, the phone number of your business and equipment you own.
A Will must not only be prepared within the legal requirements of the state Statutes but should also be prepared so it leaves no questions regarding your intentions.



         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

* Changes in who you like

         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.
         A portion of your Will and Estate Planning can be deducted on your income tax return when it deals with tax planning. Thus, part of the fee is tax deductible for income tax purposes.
         Under the law in New Jersey, if a person dies without a Will and without children, their spouse will inherit all assets, even if they are separated from the spouse.  In addition, if you have children from a previous marriage, but no Will, your separated spouse will get half your estate.   Therefore, you may wish to do the following:

1)  Have an Elder Law attorney prepare a Will to distribute your assets to the people you care the most about. If you already have a Will, prepare a new Will and have the old Will revoked. ( Your estate planning attorney will explain this to you.)
2)  Prepare a Power of Attorney to select someone to handle your finances if you become disabled.  Have your old power of attorney revoked.
3)  Prepare a Living Will prepared
4)  Change your beneficiary on assets you may own, such as stocks, bank accounts, IRA, and other financial assets. Change your beneficiary under your own life insurance, whether whole life  insurance or term insurance.
5)  Contact your human resources person and change the beneficiary on life insurance, pension, stock options or other employee benefits. Note that your spouse must sign a written waiver permitting you to change beneficiaries.
6)   Keep your personal papers at a location where family can find them.
7)  Have your attorney prepare a prenuptial agreement if you decide to get re-married.
8)   Make sure the trustee for any funds designated for your children is the "right" trustee.
9)   In New Jersey, if you are married and  living with your spouse, under certain instances the surviving spouse has a right to "elect against the Will" The disinherited spouse may like to elect against the Will and try to obtain one third of the estate. Your attorney can explain how you can protect yourself and your children.                          
10) If you have minor children, nominate someone under a Will to serve as guardian to the children. Although the surviving parent obviously has first right of custody of children, they may not even want custody.

SAVE MONEY- Have your attorney prepare a self- proving Will with a No bond clause
        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  

        The proper preparation of a Will should involve a careful analysis of  the your assets, family and 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. 

        Be sure your Will takes into account the 2009 Federal Tax changes and any Inheritance Tax changes. Also, ascertain if your Will is “self-proving”, which would dispense with having to find the Will’s witnesses after death.

-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
-Trusts (and Medicaid Trusts)


        Planning can only be done if someone is competent and/or alive. Make sure your assets can be passed directly to your loved ones. 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

2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
 (Fax)    732-572-0030

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sayreville Wills, Estate Planning & Probate Seminar Sayreville Senior Center March 16

 Wills, Estate Planning & Probate Seminar
March 16 at 7pm open to the public
423 Main Street
Sayreville NJ 08872   

     The January 1, 2017 New Estate Tax law made a number of substantial changes in the administration of estates and trusts in New Jersey.
SPEAKER: Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. Edison, NJ
Author- Wills & Estate Administration ABA book


Main Topics:
1. 2017 changes to NJ Estate Tax & changes to taxes on pensions
2. Updates 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 need 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.
       Call Sayreville Senior Center 732-390-7059 Jen Krushinski  
You don’t have to be a Sayreville resident to attend.
For materials if you can’t attend, email

Speaker: Kenneth A. Vercammen is a trial attorney in Edison, NJ. He is Author of the American Bar Association 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 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.

2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
 (Fax)    732-572-0030

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A new signed Power of Attorney is recommended every five years

      Power of Attorney  Federal HIPAA law now recommends new Power of Attorney-
      The Power of Attorney can be effective immediately upon signing or only upon disability. A Will does not need to be updated if your beneficiaries and executor remain the same. We do recommend a new Power of Attorney be signed every five years because banks and financial institutions give persons a difficult time if the document is more than 5 years old.
  Special Report By Kenneth A. Vercammen   A federal regulation known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was recently 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 certain previously executed estate planning documents useless, without properly executed amendments, specifically addressing these issues. As HIPAA affects not only new documents, any previously executed documents are affected as well. Any previously executed Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, and certainly all Medical Directives now require HIPAA amendments. 
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 do not take the time to create a Power of Attorney.  National statistics indicate that 80% of Americans die without leaving a Will. Even more do not have a Power of Attorney. There are several reasons for this: fear of death or disability; procrastination; and misinformation (people presume that only the rich or married with children need to have Wills or Power of Attorney). Whatever the excuse, it is clear that people would benefit from having a Power of Attorney. 
In the absence of a Power of Attorney or other legal arrangement to distribute property if you become disabled, your family or partner cannot pay your bills or handle your assets. The result can be lengthy delays.  Reasons to have a Power of Attorney in NJ  What are these powers of attorney?  A Power of Attorney is a written document in which a competent adult individual (the "principal") appoints another competent adult individual (the "attorney-in-fact") to act on the principal's behalf. In general, an attorney-in-fact may perform any legal function or task which the principal has a legal right to do for him/herself. You may wish to sign a Power of Attorney giving a spouse, Family member or a close friend, the power to handle your affairs if you become ill or disabled. 
The term "durable" in reference to a power of attorney means that the power remains in force for the lifetime of the principal, even if he/she becomes mentally incapacitated. A principal may cancel a power of attorney at any time for any reason. Powers granted on a power of attorney document can be very broad or very narrow in accordance with the needs of the principal. 
Why is Power of Attorney so important?  Every adult has day-to-day affairs to manage, such as paying the bills. Many people are under the impression that, in the event of catastrophic illness or injury, a spouse, partner, or child can automatically act for them. Unfortunately, this is often wrong, even when joint ownership situations exist.
A Power of Attorney allows your spouse or another person to administer your assets during your lifetime, either upon disability or now.  The lack of a properly prepared and executed Power of Attorney can cause extreme difficulties when an individual is stricken with severe illness or injury rendering him/her unable to make decisions or manage financial and medical affairs.
New Jersey has a detailed, expensive legal procedures, called Guardianships or conservatorships, to provide for appointment of a Guardian. These normally require lengthy, formal proceedings and are expensive in court. This means involvement of lawyers to prepare and file the necessary papers and doctors to provide medical testimony regarding the mental incapacity of the subject of the action.
The procedures also require the involvement of a temporary guardian to investigate, even intercede, in surrogate proceedings. This can be slow, costly, and very frustrating.   Advance preparation of the Power of Attorney could avoid the inconvenience and expense of guardianship proceedings. This needs to be done while the principal is competent, alert and aware of the consequences of his / her decision. Once a serious problem occurs, it is usually too late.  

Some examples of legal powers contained in the Power of Attorney are the following: 
1. REAL ESTATE: To execute all contracts, deeds, bonds, mortgages, notes, checks, drafts, money orders, and to lease, collect rents, grant, bargain, sell, or borrow and mortgage, and to manage, compromise, settle, and adjust all matters pertaining to any real estate or lands in which I have an interest. This includes the power to sell all land I own, including any interest I have in my address above.  
2. ENDORSEMENT AND PAYMENT OF NOTES, ETC.: To make, execute, endorse, accept, and deliver any and all bills of exchange, checks, drafts, notes and trade acceptances. To pay all sums of money, at any time, or times, that may hereafter be owing by me upon any bill of exchange, check, draft, note, or trade acceptance, made, executed, endorsed, accepted, and delivered by me, or for me, and in my name, by my Agent. 
3. MEDICAL RECORDS ACCESS: To be able to access my medical and hospital records under Federal Law HIPAA. Healthcare providers shall release medical information to my Agent. This authorization expires upon my death or upon my written revocation. 
4. STOCKS, BONDS, AND SECURITIES: To sell any and all shares of stocks, bonds, or other securities now or hereafter, belonging to me, that may be issued by an association, trust, or corporation whether private or public, and to make, execute, and deliver any assignment, or assignments, of any such shares of stock, bonds, or other securities. 
5. CONTRACTS, AGREEMENTS, ETC.: To enter into safe deposit boxes, and to make, sign, execute, and deliver, acknowledge, and perform any contract, agreement, writing, or thing that may, in the opinion of my Agent, be necessary or proper to be entered into, made or signed, sealed, executed, delivered, acknowledged or performed. 
6. BANK ACCOUNTS, CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT, MONEY MARKET ACCOUNTS, ETC.: To add to or withdraw any amounts from any of my bank accounts, Certificates of Deposit, Money Market Accounts, etc. on my behalf or for my benefit. To make, execute, endorse, accept and deliver any and all checks and drafts, deposit and withdraw funds, acquire and redeem certificates of deposit, in banks, savings and loan associations and other institutions, execute or release such deeds of trust or other security agreements as may be necessary or proper in the exercise of the rights and powers herein granted; Without in any way being limited by or limiting the foregoing, to conduct banking transactions as set forth in section 2 of P.L. 1991, c. 95 (c. 46:2B-11).  
7. TAX RETURNS, INSURANCE AND OTHER DOCUMENTS: To sign all Federal, State, and municipal tax returns, insurance forms and any other documents and to represent me in all matters concerning the foregoing. 
8. GIFT GIVING POWERS: To make gifts in amounts which my Agent in his sole, absolute and unfettered discretion shall deem appropriate in any given year on my behalf.  You should contact your attorney to have a Power of Attorney Prepared, together with a Will, Living Will and other vital Estate Planning documents.   .       A Power of Attorney is an appointment of another person as one's agent. A Power of Attorney creates a principal-agent relationship. You, the grantor of the Power of Attorney, are the principal. The person to whom you grant the Power of Attorney is your agent.
The agent is normally called an "attorney-in-fact." The attorney-in-fact does not become the owner of your property, but is merely permitted to deal with it within the terms set out in the Power of Attorney. Since an attorney-in-fact has the power to deal with your property, you, naturally, must be careful to give such a power only to a trustworthy person.
You have entrusted to your attorney-in-fact those powers which are stated in your Power of Attorney.  The Power of Attorney if effective upon signing is a "durable power." This means that if you should become incompetent and be unable physically or mentally to handle your own affairs, the Power of Attorney, nevertheless, will continue to be as good as it was on the day that you signed it.
If you become incompetent, the Power of Attorney will terminate only upon 1) a Court's declaring you to be incompetent or 2) upon your death. The attorney-in-fact may continue to use the Power of Attorney and acts performed under the Power of Attorney will be valid until either of those two events occurs, after which time acts performed by the attorney-in-fact will no longer be valid. Consequently, even if you become incompetent but no Court declares you to be so the Power of Attorney will still be effective. 
Most people who give a Power of Attorney to someone else do it with the thought that if they should become ill or incapacitated or if they should travel, the Power of Attorney will permit the holder of it to pay their bills and to handle all of their affairs for them as limited in the Power of Attorney.
This is what your attorney-in-fact may do for you under the Power of Attorney which I have prepared for you.  The granting of a Power of Attorney is not like the creation of a joint tenancy in property. Under a joint tenancy, each of the joint tenants has a property interest in the property so held, whereas, a person holding a Power of Attorney, while having the power to deal with the property, does not own any part of it nor can that person become the owner of it under the Power of Attorney by virtue of the Power of Attorney itself.
This, however, does not prevent the holder of the Power of Attorney from transferring the property to himself or herself. This is another reason for giving such a power only to one whom you can trust.  Whenever your attorney-in-fact exercises any of the powers granted under the Power of Attorney, your attorney-in-fact must be prepared to show the Power of Attorney to anyone who questions the right to use it.
If your attorney-in-fact deals with the title to real estate, it will be necessary for the Power of Attorney to be recorded. I see no reason to record the Power of Attorney until such time as property may be conveyed unless there is fear that the document might be lost.  Occasionally when real estate is dealt with by an attorney-in-fact, an abstractor or a title insurance company will raise a question regarding the use of the Power of Attorney.
Unfortunately, there is no way that we can control this. This is indeed unfortunate, but you have no other inexpensive recourse when you use a Power of Attorney. 
Kenneth A. Vercammen is a Middlesex County, NJ trial attorney who has published 125 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Probate and litigation topics. He often lectures to trial lawyers of the American Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. He is Chair of the American Bar Association Estate Planning & Probate Committee. He is also Editor of the ABA Elder Law Committee Newsletter  He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published by New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He is the Editor in Chief of the New Jersey Municipal Court Law Review. Mr. Vercammen is a recipient of the NJSBA- YLD Service to the Bar Award.  In his private practice, he has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey several times each week on many personal injury matters, Municipal Court trials, and contested Probate hearings.  Call our office to schedule a "confidential" appointment 732-572-0500  Kenneth Vercammen & Associates. 2053 Woodbridge Avenue Edison, NJ 08817  732-572-0500