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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 |

  • Nov 05, 2019Dolores Laputka to Receive Lehigh Valley Business Icon Honors

    Dolores A. Laputka, a Member at Norris McLaughlin, P.A., a member of its Management Committee, and former Co-Chair of the Business Law Practice Group, has been recognized as an “Icon” by Lehigh Valley Business.

    “As a long-time resident of the Lehigh Valley, I am honored to be recognized by Lehigh Valley Business and my peers. It truly is a privilege to be a part of this community and be surrounded by such successful, strong leaders,” said Laputka.

    Lehigh Valley Business honors and celebrates business leaders throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley over the age of 60 for their noteworthy success and presentation of strong leadership skills in their professional fields and within the community. The 2019 Icon Honors will be awarded on Wednesday, November 6, 5:00 p.m., at Renaissance Allentown Hotel. For more information and to register, visit LVB.com/events.

    About Dolores Laputka

    Laputka focuses her practice primarily on tax-related matters, whether connected to a family’s closely-held business, or estate planning for one of the principals. Her prior experience as a Certified Public Accountant enables her to handle complex business and tax-related matters for corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships; as well as succession planning and financial and estate planning for families and executives at all levels. She also devotes a significant portion of her practice to tax issues for not-for-profit organizations, including charitable giving techniques maximizing the income and death tax benefits.

    Laputka has handled multi-dimensional transactions, including tax-efficient methodology for buying and selling of family businesses, inter-relation of succession planning and estate planning for closely-held businesses, corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, real estate transactions, and management of privacy issues surrounding significant lottery winnings.

    An area that Laputka especially enjoys is the management and consulting with the nonpublic business owner in all aspects of the legal and business environment from “cradle to grave.” When not working, she enjoys sailing on the Chesapeake or “playing at” golf.

    Since Laputka moved to the Lehigh Valley in 1990, she has been involved in many organizations in the community. She is General Counsel and past Chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Member of the Board of Directors and past Chairman to the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, Board of Directors of the Lehigh Valley Estate Planning Council, past President and Board Member of the Allentown Rotary Club, and past Board Member of the Lehigh County Community College Foundation.

    Laputka earned her J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 1978 and her B.A., cum laude, from Boston College in 1975.

    About Norris McLaughlin

    In response to the changing needs of clients and the business community, Norris McLaughlin merged in 2009 with Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino, the largest independent commercial firm in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Since then, the firm has continued to grow, remembering its culture and values, and keeping its footprint in the Lehigh Valley for over 100 years. Norris McLaughlin and its attorneys have historically been committed to the Lehigh Valley community, where many firm attorneys, clients, and staff live and do business – to make them better places to live, work, and play. The firm’s attorneys hold prominent leadership positions in various organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley, and many have been honored for the work they do in the community.

    Posted in: Dolores A. Laputka, News | Tags:

  • Aug 02, 2018New Leadership at Norris McLaughlin, P.A.

    John N. Vanarthos, a Member of the law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., has been elected Chairman of the firm, following four years on the firm’s Management Committee.  He succeeds Matthew R. Sorrentino, who recently left the firm to serve as Chief Legal Officer of Lehigh Valley Health Network, one of the firm’s largest and oldest clients. In addition, David Blatteis and Graham Simmons have joined Dolores Laputka as Co-Chairs of the Business Law Group; and Daniel Guadalupe and David Roberts have been selected as Co-Chairs of the Litigation Practice Group. Robert Gabrielski has stepped down as Chair of the Business Law Group after ten years, and Robert Mahoney has stepped down as Co-Chair of the Litigation Practice Group after twelve years.

    “I am honored that my colleagues have elected me to be Chair of the firm.  It is my goal to preserve the special culture we created at Norris McLaughlin, P.A.over the last 65 years, while continuing to implement our strategic and growth plans for the future,” said Vanarthos.

    “Congratulations to John on your new role as Chairman! We are confident that you will build upon past progress and lead the firm to greater success. Congratulations to David, Graham, Dan, and Dave, as well! We are fortunate to have you in leadership positions. Many thanks to Bob Gabrielski and Bob Mahoney for all that you have done in launching your practice groups, positioning them for future growth and collaboration,” said Richard Levy, COO of Norris McLaughlin.

    Vanarthos joined the firm in 1988 as a young Associate, earning Membership in 1996.  He has served many roles within the firm, including as Chair of the firm’s Business Law Practice Group for 10 years, and currently as a leader of the firm’s Recruitment Committee.  Vanarthos has devoted his practice to helping companies, both large and small, with their business legal needs.  As a business lawyer, he regularly represents and counsels the firm’s corporate clients in a wide range of commercial transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, corporate partnerships, and other strategic alliances.  He has substantial industry-specific experience including pharmaceutical, medical device manufacturing, chemical, information technology, and health care, among others.  He also advises high-tech companies in the areas of technology licensing, information management, and product development. Over the years, Vanarthos has represented individual entrepreneurs and startup companies.  He has strategically guided them from idea conception to exit strategy, solving their legal problems along the way.   He is a frequent speaker and author on a wide range of business law topics that are relevant to the firm’s clients. Vanarthos serves as counsel for the United States operations of several foreign-based corporations, where he is responsible for all legal issues in the U.S., including general business advice, contract and tax matters, litigation management, and employee relations. Vanarthos earned his J.D. from Rutgers School of Law – Newark in 1987 and his B.A. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 1979.

    Blatteis is a member of the firm’s Management Committee.  He is a business lawyer concentrating his practice in the areas of pharmaceutical, pharma services, medical device, and healthcare. Blatteis understands the unique business and complex legal concerns of pharmaceutical companies and service providers in the pharmaceutical industry, as a result of his 18 years of experience serving as a trusted advisor to public and private companies in this space. He is also on the Advisory Board of Hip Innovation Technology, LLC, and is the New Jersey Chapter President of Pharmaceutical Consulting Consortium International, Inc.

    Simmons, a Member of the firm, is a business and real estate lawyer.  Simmons has served both public and private sector clients on all types of M&A transactions, commercial and syndicated credit facilities, economic development projects, real estate transactions, leases, and land use and zoning matters.  Simmons has represented clients across a diverse spectrum of industries and is deeply experienced in the banking and financial services, health care, real estate development, economic development, and automobile dealership industries.

    Guadalupe, a Member of the firm, represents clients in commercial litigation and “outside” general counsel assistance with a specialty in business disputes, medical device companies, construction, professional liability defense, arbitrations, trade secret and non-compete disputes, will and trust litigation, and international disputes.

    Roberts, a Member of the firm, devotes his practice to handling complex commercial litigation matters, such as fraud, fraudulent transfers, trade secret, restrictive covenant litigation, employment litigation, environmental matters, and insurance coverage litigation. His practice has a particular emphasis on partnership and shareholder disputes, including oppression and dissenter’s rights cases.  In 2007, Dave launched the Shareholder Dispute NJ blog, which addresses minority shareholder disputes in New Jersey.  In addition, he writes and lectures extensively on this topic.

    Posted in: Business Law, Daniel R. Guadalupe, David C. Roberts, David S. Blatteis, Dolores A. Laputka, John N. Vanarthos, Litigation, News, Robert C. Gabrielski, Robert Mahoney, S. Graham Simmons, III | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Jun 10, 2011Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino Attorneys to Speak at Lehigh Valley Forum on Fund Raising & Philanthropy

    June 10, 2011

    Norris McLaughlin, P.A.
    721 Route 202-206
    P.O. Box 5933
    Bridgewater, NJ 08807-5933
    Contact: Edward C. Miller, Jr.
    Chief Marketing Officer
    (908) 722-0700 x4224
    ecmillerjr@nmmlaw.com


    Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino Attorney to Speak at Lehigh Valley Forum on Fund Raising & Philanthropy

    Allentown, PA (June 10, 2011) – Tax Attorney from Tallman, Hudders & Sorrentino, the Pennsylvania office of Norris McLaughlin, P.A., will present a session at the 2011 Lehigh Valley Forum on Fund Raising & Philanthropy hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals on June 16, 2011, at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. Dolores A. Laputka, who is being recognized as the Keynote Speaker will present Unique Gifting Opportunities: Knowing When and How to Strongly Recommend and Push, where they will discuss the opportunities, strategies, and best practices for acceptance of unique gifts such as art work, real estate, boats, and ownership interests in businesses. For more information and to register for the event, visit http://afpeasternpa.afpnet.org.

    “I will identify opportunities for cultivation, possible gifting of unique items, as well as review when and how to present specific suggestions based on unusual facts,” explained Laputka.

    The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents nearly 30,000 members in more than 213 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through education, training, mentoring, research, credentialing, and advocacy. The association fosters the development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.

    Laputka, a resident of Bethlehem, focuses her practice primarily on tax-related matters whether connected to a family’s closely held business or estate planning for one of the principals. Dolores is also a Certified Public Accountant which allows her the ability to handle complex business and tax-related matters for corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, as well as succession planning, and financial and estate planning for families and executives at all levels. She also enjoys and devotes a significant portion of her practice on tax issues for not-for-profit organizations including charitable giving techniques maximizing the income and death tax benefits. She has handled multi-dimensional transactions, including tax efficient methodology for buying and selling of family businesses, inter-relation of succession planning and estate planning for closely held businesses, corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, real estate transactions, management of privacy issues surrounding significant lottery winnings, and more.

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    Posted in: Dolores A. Laputka, News, Taxation |

  • Dec 02, 2009United Way challenges Lehigh Valley to help meet education, income, health goals

    Your United Way exists to transform every dollar received into a common good that money can’t buy: Community leadership to improve education, income and health for as many Lehigh Valley residents as possible. How does an organization demonstrate community leadership? At United Way, we have committed the hard-earned dollars that you have entrusted to us to:

    Invite new ideas for best serving our community.

    Promote and expand “what works” to improve lives, while avoiding duplication of services in the Valley.

    Provide community awareness around the issues that most impact our lives.

    Apply rigorous transparency and accountability to ourselves and to the programs we support.

    View full article

    Posted in: Dolores A. Laputka, News |

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