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  • Feb 05, 2020The Secure Act and Its Impact on Your Estate Plan

    As the festivities of the New Year have waned and we approach Tax Season, we bring you news of a recent legislative development that warrants your attention and may require changes to your estate plan. During the final weeks of 2019, Congress enacted federal tax legislation known as the “SECURE Act.”

    The SECURE Act

    The law makes important changes to the federal tax code that will impact distributions from retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(bs)s, IRAs, and tax-qualified annuities (referred to in this legal advisory collectively as “Retirement Accounts”). Those changes may affect you during your lifetime and may also affect the way Retirement Accounts are distributed to your beneficiaries after your death. Consequently, the law may also limit your ability to protect retirement accounts from your beneficiaries’ creditors in a tax-efficient manner.

    This legal advisory summarizes the key aspects of the SECURE Act, which is effective as of January 1, 2020, that may affect your estate plan. We hope you find it helpful in understanding certain major changes enacted by this legislation and how they might affect you. However, bear in mind that the law will affect everyone differently. Therefore, we strongly urge you to contact our office to arrange a time for us to discuss this new law in detail, so that we may act to make any necessary revisions to your estate plan as soon as possible.

    Changes Affecting You

    One component of the SECURE Act that will affect many people during their lives is a change in the age at which a person must begin taking distributions from a Retirement Account. Prior to the SECURE Act, most people (except those who were not yet retired) were required to begin taking distributions from Retirement Accounts by April 1st of the year following the year in which they reached age 70 ½. Under the SECURE Act, the age is increased to 72 for those who were not yet required to take distributions under the old law.

    Also, the SECURE Act removes the age cap for funding traditional (non-Roth) IRAs, meaning that qualifying individuals over age 70½ are now eligible to make deductible and nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA (and may, in some instances, present additional opportunities for funding a Roth IRA).

    These changes involve additional detail and nuance beyond the summary provided in this Alert and may present an opportunity for some to take further advantage of the tax-deferred savings offered by Retirement Accounts. Feel free to reach out to any member of the Norris McLaughlin Trust, Estate, and Individual Tax Law Practice Group to discuss those opportunities in coordination with your accountant or financial advisor.

    Changes Affecting Your Beneficiaries

    Perhaps the most significant changes concerning estate planning brought about by the SECURE Act regard how Retirement Accounts are distributed after the account holder’s death to avoid penalties while continuing to defer taxes. Under prior law, it was possible to “stretch” the distribution of inherited Retirement Accounts over the life expectancy of a beneficiary. Beneficiaries were required to take a required minimum distribution each year based on their life expectancy and the undistributed balance of the Retirement Account could continue to grow income tax-free. Better yet, leaving the balance of a Retirement Account to a trust, properly drafted to meet IRS requirement, for the benefit of a beneficiary, could protect retirement benefits from the beneficiary’s creditors and ensure that those benefits remain in the family upon the beneficiary’s death, while still benefiting from income tax-free growth for the undistributed portion of the Retirement Account.

    The SECURE Act has changed those rules so that most beneficiaries will be required to receive the full amount of an inherited Retirement Account within 10 years of the death of the person who funded the Retirement Account. Certain beneficiaries, including your spouse; your minor children (but not grandchildren); and beneficiaries who are disabled, chronically ill, or no more than 10 years younger than you, are exempt from the 10-year rule and are still permitted to take distributions over their expected lifetimes (although, children who are minors at the time of inheritance must now take the full distribution within 10 years of reaching the age of majority). However, Retirement Accounts left to those beneficiaries in trust might not qualify for the life expectancy payout, depending on the terms of the trust. Even special needs trusts might require review, as they must be structured narrowly to ensure that the stretch is preserved. Provisions that allow the trust to benefit another individual might be problematic.

    The good news is that the SECURE Act does not change the method of designating your beneficiaries to receive Retirement Accounts. If you have existing beneficiary designations in place, those designations are still valid. However, the SECURE Act does introduce a host of new considerations that must be taken into account when structuring your estate plan to maximize the benefit of Retirement Accounts and best protect your beneficiaries.

    Unfortunately, Congress gave us little warning that these changes were imminent. Accordingly, estate plans that previously offered a sound approach to planning for Retirement Accounts may no longer provide a good solution.  For example, some of you may have plans in place that leave Retirement Accounts to a trust known as a “Conduit Trust.” All distributions from Retirement Accounts paid to a Conduit Trust must be distributed directly from the Trust to the beneficiary. That might have been a good approach under the old law since distributions could be stretched over the expected lifetime of the trust beneficiary. However, under the SECURE Act, that same Conduit Trust might now require distribution of the entire Retirement Account to the beneficiary within 10 years of the death of the account owner or upon a minor child reaching the age of majority. Depending on the circumstances, under the SECURE Act, other planning techniques might better serve the goals those plans are meant to achieve.

    Take Action

    With the implementation of the SECURE Act effective January 1st of this year, we recommend that we review your estate plan as soon as possible to ensure that it disposes of your Retirement Accounts in keeping with your objectives.  We welcome the opportunity to discuss these changes with you, answer any questions you may have, and make recommendations specifically for you. Please contact our office to arrange a meeting or phone conference at your earliest convenience so that we can help you find the best planning solutions to meet your needs and those of your family.

    Note:  The contents of this letter are for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal advice or form an attorney-client relationship. For information and advice particular to your situation, please contact one of the following attorneys in our Trust, Estate & Individual Tax Practice Group:  A. Nichole Cipriani, James J. Costello, Jr., Shauna M. Deans, Nicholas J. Dimakos, Robert E. Donatelli, Victor S. Elgort, Michelle M. Forsell, Hon. Emil Giordano (Ret.), Christopher R. Gray, Judith A. Harris, Abbey M. Horwitz, Dolores A. Laputka, Jill Lebowitz, Kenneth D. Meskin, Michael T. Reilly, Shana Siegel, Milan D. Slak, Burt Allen Solomon.

    Posted in: A. Nichole Cipriani, Abbey M. Horwitz, Burt Allen Solomon, Christopher R. Gray, Dolores A. Laputka, Estate Planning & Administration, Hon. Emil Giordano (Ret.), James J. Costello, Jill Lebowitz, Judith A. Harris, Kenneth D. Meskin, Michael T. Reilly, Michelle M. Forsell, Milan D. Slak, Nicholas J. Dimakos, Robert E. Donatelli, Shana Siegel, Shauna M. Deans, Taxation, Victor S. Elgort |

  • Apr 23, 2019Nichole Cipriani Presented to P.G. Chambers School Parents

    Nichole A. Cipriani, a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., presented “Estate Planning 101 and Planning for Children with Special Needs” to parents at P.G. Chambers School (PGCS) in Cedar Knolls, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., on April 11, hosted by the P.G. Chambers Home School Association.  Cipriani discussed why having an estate plan is important and why an attorney is necessary.  She explained estate planning documents, wills, probate, inherited assets, power of attorney, death and transfer taxes, different types of trusts, 529 savings accounts, ABLE accounts, qualified disability expenses, guardianships, and charitable gifts.

    Serving ten counties in northern New Jersey, PGCS helps children with disabilities lead full, productive lives; develop confidence in their own unique abilities; and engage in the community through education and therapy. Abbey M. Horwitz, a Member of the firm, is an active volunteer with P.G. Chambers School, a member of the P.G. Chambers Board of Trustees, serves on the Development Committee, and coordinated and created the presentation.  Her daughter has been a student at the school for the past five years.  For more information about PGCS, visit www.chambersschool.org.

    A resident of Bernardsville, Cipriani devotes her practice to estate and tax planning, estate administration, guardianship, and fiduciary litigation.  She assists individuals and families with business succession planning, special needs and disability planning, and international estate planning.  She is experienced in preparing wills, insurance trusts, revocable trusts, qualified domestic trusts, grantor-retained annuity trusts, charitable trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, special needs trusts, supplemental benefits trusts, durable powers of attorney, and advance directives for health care.

    Cipriani has extensive experience representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service, preparing filings for individuals and legal entities, including Forms 706, 709, 990 and 1041, drafting and filing Tax Court petitions and Private Letter Ruling requests, and negotiating Innocent Spouse relief.  She is Co-Chair of the Elder, Estates and Trusts Committee of the Somerset County Bar Association.  She earned her LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law, her J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law, where she was a Presidential Scholar, and her B.S. from Emory University.  Cipriani is admitted to practice law in New Jersey, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and New York.

    Horwitz, a resident of Cedar Grove, practices primarily in the area of estate planning and administration.  She is experienced in preparing wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, advance directives for health care, and other estate planning documents.  She is also experienced in administering estates and trusts, including counseling executors and trustees; preparing estate, trust, and guardianship pleadings; preparing estate and trust accountings; preparing estate tax returns; handling estate tax audits; and preparing releases and waivers for distributions from estates and trusts.

    In addition, Horwitz has experience preparing corporate and LLC filings, including certificates of incorporation, articles of organization, bylaws, operating agreements, and IRC 501(c)(3) filings.

    Horwitz earned her LL.M. in Taxation from Villanova University in 2018, her J.D. from New York Law School, where she received the Carbonell Fellowship in Law and Policy, in 2006, and her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 2000.

    Posted in: A. Nichole Cipriani, Abbey M. Horwitz, Elder Care & Special Needs Law, Estate Planning & Administration, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Jan 21, 2016Norris McLaughlin, P.A. Names New Members

    Norris McLaughlin, P.A., has announced that Nichole Cipriani,  Salil P. Jani, and Saleem Mawji have been promoted from Associates to Members of the firm, effective January 1, 2016.

    “On behalf of Norris McLaughlin, P.A., we are proud to announce that Nichole, Salil, and Saleem have become members of the firm,” said Alison L. Galer, Managing Partner. “Each of them has demonstrated a commitment to our clients, the firm, and their colleagues, and are truly exceptional attorneys.”

    Cipriani devotes her practice to estate and tax planning, estate administration, guardianship, and fiduciary litigation. She assists individuals and families with business succession planning, special needs and disability planning, and international estate planning.  Cipriani is experienced in preparing wills, insurance trusts, revocable trusts, qualified domestic trusts, grantor-retained annuity trusts, charitable trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, special needs trusts, supplemental benefits trusts, durable powers of attorney, and advance directives for health care. She has extensive experience representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service; preparing filings for individuals and legal entities, including Forms 706, 709, 990 and 1041; drafting and filing Tax Court petitions and Private Letter Ruling requests; and negotiating Innocent Spouse relief.  Cipriani is Co-Chair of the Elder, Estates and Trusts Committee of the Somerset County Bar Association and was named to the New Jersey Rising Stars list as one of the top attorneys in the state for 2010, 2011, and 2013-2015.

    Jani works closely with entrepreneurs and start-ups to help them achieve their goals. He devotes a substantial portion of his practice to counseling start-ups and emerging companies on a wide variety of issues ranging from fundamental organizational matters to venture financing. Jani has significant experience counseling high growth companies through debt and equity financings.  He also brings a unique perspective to this practice, as he is a member of the investment committee and an investor in a venture fund focused on late stage venture investments. In his role as general counsel to multiple technology companies, Jani works with senior management to resolve day-to-day legal issues, and handles corporate transactions and governance matters.  He also provides general corporate counseling to clients, and negotiates and drafts commercial contracts for Internet infrastructure companies, software companies, hardware manufacturers, medical device and life sciences companies, and consumer products manufacturers, and is an experienced advisor on strategic transactions including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and opportunistic investments.

    Mawji devotes his practice primarily to complex commercial litigation matters including shareholder disputes, construction disputes, contract enforcement, government investigations, debt collection, and representing banks alleged to have violated Pennsylvania’s Commercial Code.  He has represented businesses of all sizes, including some of the Lehigh Valley’s largest companies, in state and federal court. He also represents clients at all stages of the legal process, from depositions and judicial conferences to trial, using his extensive litigation experience to advise companies on how to avoid unnecessary litigation, and frequently negotiates settlements. Mawji’s understanding of best practices in electronic discovery allows him to assist clients with managing electronic documents and producing them during discovery. A 2014 graduate of Lehigh Valley Leadership, Mawji is a member of the Board of Associates of Lehigh Valley Health Network, Muhlenberg College, and the Board of Community Bike Works.

     

    2016 New Partners Resize

    From left to right: Salil P. Jani, Saleem Mawji, Nichole Cipriani

     

    Posted in: A. Nichole Cipriani, News, Saleem Mawji |

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