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  • Mar 26, 2020Tension Between Site Remediation and Expeditious Estate Administration

    When considering environmental liabilities in the context of an estate administration, property owners can take proactive steps to abate the risk, or at least make it more manageable for their heirs.

    Claims Against Estates 

    Environmental liabilities generally do not lend themselves to the typical resolution procedure applicable to non-environmental liabilities in estate administrations. Generally, a creditor of a decedent has nine months from the date of the decedent’s death to present a claim in writing to the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate (collectively “Personal Representative”; N.J.S.A. 3B:22-4). If a creditor fails to present a claim within the nine-month period, the Personal Representative is not personally liable to the creditor with respect to any assets that the Personal Representative may have delivered or paid in satisfaction of any lawful claims, devises, or distributive shares. Id. After the expiration of the nine-month period and distribution of estate assets, creditors can still pursue their claims against estate beneficiaries under their Refunding Bonds (N.J.S.A. 3B:22-16).

    However, Personal Representatives of estates whose decedent held potentially contaminated real property, in his or her individual name or in a general partnership, face unique and difficult challenges in attempting to satisfy obligations under environmental law within the statutory framework discussed above. There are two distinct reasons for this difficulty: (a) environmental liabilities of estates often have not been quantified, an often-lengthy process; and (b) long-tail obligations may attach when an environmental remediation leaves contamination on-site and engineering and institutional controls are utilized.

    The enactment of the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) in 2009 should have largely eliminated the first problem, since all properties with historical (pre-SRRA) contamination should already have been reported and investigated. Unlike the Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA) (which mandated remediation of only a subset of properties—generally properties with operating manufacturing, and certain warehousing and service businesses—and only upon their sale or closure), the SRRA required reporting of all properties with known contamination and set forth a strict schedule for completion of investigation (five years from the 2012 effective date, i.e., 2017) and remediation (10 years, i.e., 2022). Thus, by now, all contaminated properties existing in 2009 should have been identified, the investigation completed, and the remediation well underway.

    The reality, however, is different. Without a pressing transaction and the attendant infusion of funds, many owners of historically contaminated properties, especially those with no current productive use, simply have not complied with the SRRA’s mandates. Unlike ISRA matters, without a purchaser pushing for compliance and without an infusion of new funds, many owners felt neither the pressure to report nor the ability to fund an investigation and remediation; thus, their property remains unaddressed.

    However, upon the death of the property owner, the Personal Representative of the property owner’s estate now has the compliance obligation and should not risk sanctions for non-compliance. Naturally, the Personal Representative will face challenges in selling real property that needs to be liquidated for the payment of debts, expenses, and taxes, and for ultimate distribution to the beneficiaries. Where property is specifically bequeathed, the beneficiary is faced with the decision of whether to disclaim the property (a decision that must be made, pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 2518, within nine months of death to avoid U.S. Gift Tax consequences), or perhaps assert claims against the remainder of the estate for additional funds to investigate and remediate the contaminated property.

    Timing Challenges

    Personal Representatives face the timing challenges posed by the fact that the Preliminary Assessment, Site Investigation and Remedial Investigation (“PA,” “SI” and “RI,”) process can take several years. With the SRRA’s creation of the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP), the delay of seeking NJDEP approval at each step of the remedial process has been reduced. Nevertheless, inherent delays are associated with the process of preparing the PA, SI and RI. In addition, the finality of the “end” of the remedial process, the issuance of a Remedial Action Outcome (RAO), is subject to a three-year period during which NJDEP can audit and overturn the RAO.

    The other timing issue is that the obligations of the Responsible Party (RP) may never end. If contaminated soils are left in place under an impermeable cap (typically pavement, building slab, engineered greenscape, etc.), subject to a deed notice (often the only rational and cost-effective remedy), it is accompanied by a Soils Remedial Action Permit (Soils RAP). The RP is perpetually the permittee, although the then-current owner is a co-permittee. The Soils RAP requires inspection and maintenance of the cap, annual inspection, biennial report, annual fee, and perpetual establishment and maintenance of “hard” Financial Assurance (FA) in the form of a letter of credit, line of credit, or fully-funded trust in the amount of the net present value of performing the permit conditions.

    Matters involving groundwater contamination may require groundwater treatment, but even then, the very stringent State Groundwater Quality Standards (GWQS) are often not achieved.   In those fairly typical situations, the only remaining remedy is Natural Monitored Attenuation.  That means natural dilution and degradation processes are modeled, and a projection of the size and duration of the contaminated plume is calculated. The RP is obligated to periodically (typically annually, sometimes for 20 years or more) sample the groundwater plume for the calculated duration to ascertain that the GWQS have been achieved. If they have not, then the RP may have to extend the period of monitoring, or in some circumstances, implement additional remedial measures. These obligations are incorporated into a Groundwater RAP. As with a Soils RAP, the original RP is perpetually a permittee, with the current property owner a co-permittee. Unlike a Soils RAP, no FA is required.

    Dealing with Environmental Liabilities in Estate Administration

    Statutory liability for environmental liabilities is generally fixed, but the amount and timing of the payment obligation are uncertain, particularly where the investigative and remedial process is ongoing. In that circumstance, the Personal Representative would be ill-advised to distribute estate assets, even upon receipt of refunding bonds from all beneficiaries, without establishing an adequate reserve for environmental liabilities (See, N.J.S.A. 3B:22-11). But in the context of environmental liabilities, what amount will be adequate?

    Naturally the most conservative approach would be for the Personal Representative to keep the estate open and retain all assets available to satisfy the estate’s remedial obligations until completion. However, as indicated above, resolution may not come for many years after the decedent’s death, leading the Personal Representatives to seek alternatives to expedite distribution of estate assets to beneficiaries to the extent possible without exposing themselves to personal liability.

    One approach could be for the Personal Representative to seek an LSRP’s guidance to calculate an adequate reserve for environmental obligations and incorporate that reserve into an application for approval of a formal judicial accounting and discharge, putting the DEP on notice as an interested party. While liability may still exist for the beneficiaries under their refunding bonds, a discharge orchestrated in this manner should serve to exonerate the Personal Representative from personal liability for making distributions in excess of the reserve (See, N.J.S.A. 3B:17-8).

    The Personal Representative may also want to seek advice and direction from the court in certain situations before expending estate assets on environmental investigation, remediation and clean-up costs. For example, residuary beneficiaries and specific devisees of contaminated real property are likely to differ on the extent to which estate funds should be expended on environmental remediation costs, particularly where the liquid assets of the estate are not significant in relation to the potential exposure. An action for advice and direction gives all parties the opportunity to be heard and can protect the Personal Representative from potential breach of fiduciary duty claims.

    In sum, when considering environmental liabilities in the context of an estate administration, the adage “the best defense is a good offense” is apt. A review of the case law and statutes regarding environmental liability reveals that transparency is key. Property owners who know their property may be susceptible to environmental liability claims should be upfront with their executors, trustees, beneficiaries, and heirs to make them aware of potential issues facing properties that these people will come to own and/or manage. Transparency will also empower fiduciaries and/or beneficiaries to preserve the defenses available to them under state and federal environmental liability laws. For example, under both the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) (federal law) and the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (NJ Spill Act) (state law), the “innocent purchaser” defense is available to subsequent titleholders of contaminated property who are able to prove that they made reasonable and appropriate inquiry into the condition of the property, the past owners of the property, and previous uses of the property; and to those who have not contributed to the contamination. Without knowledge of a potential contamination problem, or the threat thereof, subsequent titleholders are not likely to engage in a high level of due diligence prior to taking title to a property.

    In addition to preserving defenses available to a subsequent titleholder, being transparent in acknowledging and investigating the source of the problem may also highlight any right to contribution from previous owners or dischargers that the property owner may have. Such defenses may be preserved and carried forward by the Personal Representative or heirs upon the property owner’s death.

    Finally, although there is no way to totally remove the specter of environmental liability issues cast upon fiduciaries, beneficiaries, and heirs, a property owner facing these challenges can take proactive steps to abate the risk or make it more manageable for those they leave behind.

    Edward A. Hogan is co-chair of the Environmental Law Group at Norris McLaughlin in Bridgewater. James J. Costello Jr. is co-chair of the firm’s Trust, Estate, and Individual Tax Group. The authors are grateful for the assistance of their colleagues, Nicholas J. Dimakos and Shauna M. Deans, who are associates at the firm.

    Reprinted with permission from the March 25, 2020, issue of the New Jersey Law Journal. © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.

    Posted in: Edward A. Hogan, Environmental, Estate Planning & Administration, James J. Costello, Nicholas J. Dimakos, Shauna M. Deans |

  • 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, 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, Milan D. Slak, Nicholas J. Dimakos, Robert E. Donatelli, Shana Siegel, Shauna M. Deans, Taxation, Victor S. Elgort |

  • Jun 26, 2019James Costello and Nicholas Dimakos to Present on Probate and Trust Litigation

    James J. Costello, Jr., a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., and Co-Chair of its Trusts, Estates & Tax Law Practice Group, and Nicholas J. Dimakos, an Associate of the firm, will be featured speakers at “Probate and Trust Litigation: Real-World Insights for Both Estate Litigators and Planners,” sponsored by The National Business Institute (NBI), on Tuesday, July 9, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., at the Courtyard Princeton.

    The seminar will address practical ways to deal with common controversies. Presenters will explore a variety of ways to improve and build skills in handling will contest and trust fights, removing a fiduciary, handling disputes with accountings, settling disputes effectively, and learning to avoid conflicts of interest. New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania CLE credits are available. For more information or to register, please visit the NBI’s website at www.nbi-sems.com.

    Costello focuses his practice on estate planning and administration, litigation and disputes among beneficiaries, general federal and state tax law and controversies, and the formation, dissolution, purchase, sale, and mergers of all types of closely-held business entities.

    Costello represents individuals in all aspects of general and sophisticated estate planning, including drafting wills, lifetime and testamentary trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, prenuptial agreements, and cohabitation agreements, employing sophisticated strategies when warranted matters include family limited liability companies (“LLCs”), sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts, spousal lifetime access trusts (“SLATS”), dynasty trusts and charitable trusts.  He represents fiduciaries in all aspects of estate and trust administration, including preparation and filing of federal and state estate and income tax returns; representation in IRS and New Jersey Division of Taxation audits; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; preparation and filing of federal and state estate and inheritance tax returns; and defending those returns on audit.

    Costello has published articles and lectured extensively to civic and professional groups on estate planning, elder law, and tax law topics.  He is a former Trustee and Advisory Board Council member of Alzheimer’s New Jersey (formerly known as the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association), and a former Trustee and Secretary of the Bernardsville Library Foundation, Inc.  He currently serves on the Vestry of the Church of St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville. Costello earned his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law, his M.L.T. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.S., cum laude, from the University of Bridgeport.

    Dimakos focuses primarily on probate and fiduciary litigation.  His practice includes all types of contested trust and estate matters, including will contests and challenges to account beneficiary designations; accounting actions involving estates, trusts, and powers of attorney; contested administrations involving challenges to and defense of the actions of fiduciaries; and trust terminations and modifications.

    Dimakos’s practice also includes guardianship litigation.  He represents healthcare facilities and family members seeking guardianship and serves as court-appointed counsel for alleged incapacitated individuals.

    Dimakos received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Seton Hall University School of Law in 2011, where he was a member of the Seton Hall Law Review, served as a research assistant for two professors, and interned for the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the Honorable Garrett E. Brown, Jr. (Ret.).  After graduation, Dimakos clerked for the Assignment Judge of Bergen County, the Honorable Peter E. Doyne (Ret.).  He earned his B.S., magna cum laude, from The College of New Jersey in 2008.

    Costello and Dimakos are co-authors for the firm’s New Jersey beneficiary rights law blog, Guardians of Your Will.

    Posted in: Estate Planning & Administration, James J. Costello, News, Nicholas J. Dimakos | Tags: , , , ,

  • Nov 07, 2018James J. Costello, Jr. to Present on Using Trusts in Estate Planning and Asset Protection

    James J. Costello, Jr., a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., and Co-Chair of its Trust, Estate and Individual Tax Group, will be a featured speaker at “Using Trusts in Estate Planning and Asset Protection,” sponsored by The National Business Institute (NBI).  The seminar will take place at the Courtyard Princeton on Thursday, November 15, and Friday, November 16, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

    The seminar will address the effective use of trusts in estate planning and asset protection. Presenters will explore a variety of planning tools that will help tailor a trust that fits the client’s specific situation. CLE, CPE, IACET, and PACE credits are available. For more information or to register, please visit the NBI’s web site here.

    Costello focuses his practice on estate planning and administration, litigation and disputes among beneficiaries, general federal and state tax law and controversies, and the formation, dissolution, purchase, sale and mergers of all types of closely-held business entities.

    Costello represents individuals in all aspects of general and sophisticated estate planning, including drafting wills, lifetime and testamentary trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, prenuptial agreements and co-habitation agreements, employing sophisticated strategies when warranted matters include family limited liability companies (“LLCs”), sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts, spousal lifetime access trusts (“SLATS”), dynasty trusts and charitable trusts.  His representation of fiduciaries covers all aspects of estate and trust administration, including preparation and filing of federal and state estate and income tax returns; representation in IRS and New Jersey Division of Taxation audits; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; preparation and filing of federal and state estate and inheritance tax returns; and defending those returns on audit.

    Costello has published articles and lectured extensively to civic and professional groups on estate planning, elder law, and tax law topics.  He is a former Trustee and Advisory Board Council member of Alzheimer’s New Jersey (formerly known as the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association), and a former Trustee and Secretary of the Bernardsville Library Foundation, Inc. and currently serves on the Vestry of the Church of St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville. Costello earned his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law and his M.L.T. from Georgetown University Law Center.

    Posted in: Estate Planning & Administration, James J. Costello, News | Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • Dec 12, 2017James J. Costello, Jr. to Speak at Seminar on Probate Process

    James J. Costello, Jr., a Member of the Bridgewater-based law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., will be a featured speaker at “The Probate Process from Start to Finish,” sponsored by The National Business Institute.  The seminar will take place at the Holiday Inn Princeton on Tuesday, December 19, from 8:30 am to 4:40 pm and at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center of Toms River on Wednesday, December 20 from 8:30 am to 4:40 pm.

    The seminar is an “a through z” guide to probate designed to take the attendee from the first days of the estate timeline through all the steps of the initial filing, locating and paying the creditors, paying the beneficiaries, and laying the estate to rest. Attendees will receive the latest updates on the probate court procedure and tax laws, practical guidance from experienced probate attorneys on resolving estate disputes, and sample forms and checklists to speed up the administration process. CLE CPE, IACET, and PACE credits are available. For more information or to register, visit the NBI’s web site at www.nbi-sems.com.

    Costello focuses his practice on estate planning and administration; elder law; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; general federal and state tax law and controversies; and the formation, dissolution, purchase and sale of all types of closely-held business entities.

    He represents individuals in all aspects of general and sophisticated estate planning, including drafting wills, lifetime and testamentary trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, prenuptial agreements and co-habitation agreements, employing sophisticated strategies when warranted matters include family limited liability companies (“LLCs”), sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts, spousal lifetime access trusts (“SLATS”), dynasty trusts and charitable trusts.  His representation of fiduciaries covers all aspects of estate and trust administration, including preparation and filing of federal and state estate and income tax returns; representation in IRS and New Jersey Division of Taxation audits; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; preparation and filing of federal and state estate and inheritance tax returns; and defending those returns on audit.

    Costello has published articles and lectured extensively to civic and professional groups about a variety of estate planning, elder law and tax law topics.  He is a former Trustee and Advisory Board Council member of the Alzheimer’s New Jersey (formerly known as the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association), and a former Trustee and Secretary of the Bernardsville Library Foundation, Inc. and currently serves on the Vestry of the Church of St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville, New Jersey.  Costello earned his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law and his M.L.T. from Georgetown University Law Center.

    Posted in: Estate Planning & Administration, James J. Costello, News |

  • Sep 06, 2017James J. Costello, Jr. to Speak at Alzheimer’s New Jersey Conference

    James J. Costello, Jr., a Member of the Bridgewater-based law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., will be a featured speaker at “Alzheimer’s Disease: Approaches to Care,” sponsored by Alzheimer’s New Jersey.  The conference will take place at the Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell in Pennington on Saturday, September 16, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

    The half-day conference for caregivers will provide practical information about how to cope with the unique challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Costello will conduct a session detailing legal and financial planning. To register, please visit http://www.alznj.org.

    Costello focuses his practice on estate planning and administration; elder law; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; general federal and state tax law and controversies; and the formation, dissolution, purchase and sale of all types of closely-held business entities.

    He represents individuals in all aspects of general and sophisticated estate planning, including drafting wills, lifetime and testamentary trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, prenuptial agreements and co-habitation agreements, employing sophisticated strategies when warranted matters include family limited liability companies (“LLCs”), sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts, spousal lifetime access trusts (“SLATS”), dynasty trusts and charitable trusts.  His representation of fiduciaries covers all aspects of estate and trust administration, including preparation and filing of federal and state estate and income tax returns; representation in IRS and New Jersey Division of Taxation audits; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; preparation and filing of federal and state estate and inheritance tax returns; and defending those returns on audit.

    Costello has published articles and lectured extensively to civic and professional groups about a variety of estate planning, elder law and tax law topics.  He is a former Trustee and Advisory Board Council member of the Alzheimer’s New Jersey (formerly known as the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association), and a former Trustee and Secretary of the Bernardsville Library Foundation, Inc. and currently serves on the Vestry of the Church of St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville.  Costello earned his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law and his M.L.T. from Georgetown University Law Center.

    Posted in: Estate Planning & Administration, James J. Costello, News |

  • Nov 01, 2016Norris McLaughlin, P.A. Launches Beneficiary Rights Blog

    Norris McLaughlin, P.A., has launched a NJ Beneficiary Rights blog, which can be found at www.nmmlaw.com/njbr. James J. Costello, Jr. will author the blog.

    The blog will seek to inform Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries (Executors and Trustees) of Estates and Trusts of their rights and obligations under New Jersey and sometimes Federal law by analyzing important court decisions and relevant provisions of the law and by imparting lessons drawn from our own experience in our day-to-day practice.  Entries will also include issues relating to relatives, friends or other loved ones who are alive but compromised due to advanced age or illness, and therefore susceptible to manipulation.

    “The death of a relative, friend, or other loved one can be a traumatic and sometimes life-changing experience. I hope this blog can provide people with a better understanding of their rights and obligations during such a difficult time,” said Jim Costello.

    Costello focuses his practice on estate planning and administration; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; general federal and state tax law and controversies; and the formation, dissolution, purchase and sale of all types of closely-held business entities.

    He represents individuals in all aspects of general and sophisticated estate planning, including drafting wills, lifetime and testamentary trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, prenuptial agreements and co-habitation agreements, employing sophisticated strategies when warranted, including family limited liability companies (“LLCs”), sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts, spousal lifetime access trusts (“SLATS”), dynasty trusts and charitable trusts.  His representation of fiduciaries includes all aspects of estate and trust administration, including preparation and filing of federal and state estate and income tax returns; representation in IRS and New Jersey Division of Taxation audits; litigation and disputes among beneficiaries; preparation and filing of federal and state estate and inheritance tax returns and defending those returns on audit.

    Costello has published articles and lectured extensively to civic and professional groups about a variety of estate planning and tax law topics.  He is a former Trustee and current Advisory Board Council member of the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and is a Trustee and the Secretary of the Bernardsville Library Foundation, Inc.  Costello earned his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law and his M.L.T. from Georgetown University Law Center.

    Posted in: Estate Planning & Administration, James J. Costello, News |

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