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  • Jul 21, 2020Jill Lebowitz to Speak on New Jersey Inheritance Tax at NJICLE Estate Planning Summer Institute

    Jill Lebowitz, a Member of the law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., will present “Digging Deeper into the New Jersey Inheritance Tax” for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Education (NJICLE) Estate Planning Summer Institute.

    “Each year, it is my pleasure to participate in the NJICLE Estate Planning Institute. Especially now, during these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to stay informed,” said Lebowitz.

    About the NJICLE Estate Planning Summer Institute

    The two-day program, co-sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Association Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section, will be held on Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., as a live webcast. The Institute offers 13.4 CLE credits, including one ethics/professionalism credit. For more information and to register, visit njsba.com or call NJICLE at 732-214-8500.

    About Jill Lebowitz

    Lebowitz devotes her practice to estate planning, trust and estate administration, and counseling tax-exempt organizations. She is experienced in drafting sophisticated estate planning instruments and counseling individuals and families regarding estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax issues. Lebowitz advises clients on the development of both simple and complex estate plans, philanthropic planning, and business succession issues. She drafts estate planning instruments including wills, revocable living trusts, insurance trusts, dynasty trusts, charitable trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, shareholders agreements, limited liability company operating agreements, durable powers of attorney, and advance directives for health care.

    In addition, Lebowitz handles all aspects of trust and estate administration, as well as fiduciary litigation and guardianship matters. She prepares federal and state estate and inheritance tax returns and federal gift tax returns. Lebowitz is knowledgeable in drafting disclaimers and agreements regarding post-mortem planning, informal distribution agreements, judicial fiduciary accountings, and handling court proceedings to effect the final distribution of estates and trusts. She also counsels individuals and financial institutions regarding their fiduciary duties as personal representatives and trustees, including advising on legal and tax issues, as well as issues in connection with administering trusts. She also assists individuals, families, and fiduciaries with all aspects of fiduciary litigation and handles guardianship matters.

    Lebowitz regularly advises tax-exempt organizations regarding federal tax exemption issues, state charitable registration filings, and governance issues. On behalf of tax-exempt organizations, she drafts nonprofit corporation documents and prepares federal applications for tax-exempt status, state charitable registration filings, and state property tax and sales tax exemption applications. Lebowitz has extensive experience advising individuals, family and corporate foundations, and tax-exempt organizations on nonprofit corporate governance, private foundation excise taxes, domestic and international grant-making, executive compensation, excess benefit rules and intermediate sanctions, unrelated business income, scholarship programs, and fundraising issues.

    Lebowitz is a Fellow of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a national organization of approximately 2,500 lawyers elected to membership by demonstrating the highest level of integrity, commitment to the profession, competence, and experience as trust and estate counselors. She has also been selected for inclusion on the list of New Jersey Super Lawyers in the Estate & Probate section.

    Lebowitz is a Past Chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section, and continues to serve on the Section’s Board of Consultors. She is also a Past President of the Greater Middlesex/Somerset Estate Planning Council and continues to serve on its Board of Trustees.

    Lebowitz earned her LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law, her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law—Newark, and her B.A. from New York University.

    Posted in: Estate Planning & Administration, Jill Lebowitz, News, Taxation | Tags: , ,

  • Feb 24, 2020Norris McLaughlin Welcomes Two New Members to Pennsylvania Office

    The Pennsylvania office of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., is pleased to welcome Christopher R. Gray and the Honorable Rebecca L. Warren (Ret.) as Members of the firm. Gray joins both the Tax, Trust, and Estates Practice Group and the Business Law Practice Group, while Warren will be a part of the Labor & Employment, Litigation, and Business Law Practice Groups.

    “We are grateful to have these two established attorneys join our team and look forward to enhancing our multiple practices at Norris McLaughlin. Our clients will benefit from the additional experience Chris and Rebecca are bringing,” said S. Graham Simmons, III, Administrative Partner of the firm’s Pennsylvania office.

    About Christopher Gray

    Gray focuses his practice in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, and income tax planning.

    In addition, Gray is experienced in corporate matters, business transactions, non–profit issues, health care governance, elder law, and general litigation. He represents high net-worth clients and their businesses in developing estate, gift, income tax, and succession planning strategies.

    Prior to joining Norris McLaughlin, Gray has worked both in private practice and with a financial strategies company advising affluent private clients on business investments, multigenerational estate preservation, and wealth planning.

    A long-time resident of Pennsylvania, Gray is a past officer of the Lehigh Valley Estate Planning Council, and currently serves on the Northampton Community College Foundation Board of Directors, where he is also Chair of its Planned Giving Committee.

    With 25 years of experience, Gray frequently presents on tax law and initiatives, estate planning tools and techniques, and asset protection.

    Gray received his J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, cum laude, in 1993 and his B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College in 1987. He also earned his LL.M. in Taxation from Georgetown University Law Center in 1994.

    “Our Practice Group has witnessed recent and robust growth. We are delighted to welcome Attorney Gray to join our Team at this auspicious time. Chris is a fine asset to our firm and to our clients,” said Judith A. Harris, Co-Chair of the Tax, Trust, and Estates Practice Group.

    About Rebecca Warren

    Warren devotes her practice to labor and employment, business and corporate matters, and general liability litigation.

    As a former in-house corporate attorney and having counseled businesses for over 25 years, Warren is acutely aware of the unique and varied legal needs of business clients. She has created thousands of customized legal documents for corporations, partnerships, LLCs, and sole proprietors. Warren is also well-versed in providing legal strategy and guidance regarding daily business issues and concerns ranging from employment matters to third-party disputes.

    As a former prosecutor, Warren is well-positioned to counsel clients in crisis management, internal and governmental investigations, and regulatory and business compliance. She has represented prominent clients in high-stakes and multi-million-dollar cases at the county, state, and federal levels in multiple states.

    In addition, Warren has extensive experience in insurance defense, white-collar crime, election law, health care, commercial law, estate practice and administration, family law, and real estate.

    Warren handles all aspects of litigation for her clients, having appeared in court on thousands of hearings, proceedings, arbitrations, jury and non-jury trials, and appeals. She was formerly appointed Solicitor for various non-profit organizations and government agencies and had regularly served as a county Arbitration panel member and Chairperson.

    Prior to joining Norris McLaughlin, Warren founded a multi-county law firm and real estate closing company and was a partner in a Philadelphia firm.

    Warren was elected as the first female District Attorney of Montour County by a 3:1 margin. In that role, she designed and implemented an intensive, personalized victim rights program; created the Multi-Disciplinary Investigative Team for child abuse cases to minimize trauma for minor victims; and collaborated with agencies to provide services and treatment for offenders.

    Warren received her J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law in 1991 and her B.A. with honors from Bloomsburg University in 1988.

    “We are excited to see growth within the firm and I am proud to be able to extend our team’s reach in Pennsylvania by adding Rebecca’s many years of experience. Having her in-house perspective, as well as her service as a District Attorney, will be a great addition to our group,” said Patrick T. Collins, Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group.

    Posted in: Business Law, Christopher R. Gray, Elder Care & Special Needs Law, Estate Planning & Administration, Hon. Rebecca L. Warren (Ret.), Labor & Employment, Litigation, News, Taxation | Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • Feb 19, 2020Property Tax Appeals Can Save You Money in 2020

    One obvious reason for filing real estate property tax appeals is to obtain a lower assessment on your real property and thereby save significant tax dollars. Another important reason to lower your assessment and taxes is to help maintain the value of the property by making it more marketable to potential buyers.

    Property owners often believe that their property is worth an amount equal to the assessment on the property. This misconception leads owners to overlook the different ratios of assessed value to true value applicable in each of the assessing districts of New Jersey and the fact that these ratios generally decline each year. For example, if a property worth one million dollars this year is located in a municipality with a 60% ratio, it should be assessed at $600,000 this year. If that ratio drops to 54% next year, its assessment should be $540,000. If the ratio drops, but the assessment remains high, it may be time for an appeal. The revaluation of all property within a municipality may increase the possibility of over-assessment on larger commercial and industrial parcels.

    Taxpayers with assessments in excess of $1,000,000 can file an appeal for direct review of their property’s assessed valuation by the Tax Court of New Jersey, without first filing an appeal with the local county tax board. Tax appeals on assessments of less than $1,000,000 must first be filed with the county tax board.

    If the taxpayer prevails in securing a tax appeal judgment reducing its assessment, the “Freeze Act” binds the municipality for the years covered by the tax appeal plus two additional years, subject to two exceptions. The first exception is a complete revaluation of all real property in the municipality. The second exception is proof by the municipality of a substantial increase in the property’s value. These exceptions aside, the assessment is frozen at the reduced level, at the taxpayer’s sole option. Thus, if a taxpayer wishes to appeal for a further reduction during the freeze period, he or she is free to do so.

    These points are merely intended to scratch the surface of this area of the law. This should also help to explain why property owners should have their tax assessments reviewed by legal counsel each year to determine whether a tax appeal is warranted. The experienced attorneys at Norris McLaughlin can help you review and analyze your real property valuations to determine if an appeal makes sense.

    For all counties, other than Monmouth and Gloucester, the deadline to file a tax appeal in 2020 is April 1st. For all towns subject to a revaluation or reassessment (other than those towns in Monmouth and Gloucester Counties), the deadline is extended to May 1, 2020.

    For additional information, contact one of our tax appeal attorneys, Nicholas F. Pellitta or Timothy P. McKeown.

    This Real Property Tax Appeals Alert provides information to our clients and friends about current legal developments of general interest in the area of real property tax appeals law. The information contained in this Alert should not be construed as legal advice, and readers should not act upon such without professional counsel. Copyright © 2020 Norris McLaughlin, P.A.

    Posted in: Nicholas F. Pellitta, Real Estate & Finance, Taxation, Timothy P. McKeown |

  • 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 |

  • Oct 15, 2019LLCs From Start to Finish

    Norris McLaughlin, P.A., is pleased to have Victor S. Elgort, Chair of the firm’s Tax Group, speak at the National Business Institute (NBI) two-day seminar, “LLCs From Start to Finish.” Victor will present ” LLC or S-Corp Tax Considerations” and “How to Draft the LLC Operating Agreement” on day one.

    Course Description

    The attendees will be walked through the LLC cycle with practical how-to’s, practice pointers, cautionary advice, and sample forms. Stay up to date with the latest LLC legislation, trends and developments; consider all factors in entity selection and formation, and work through difficult operating agreement provisions. Attendees will also learn more focused skills and applications, such as forming LLCs to purchase real estate, utilizing series LLCs and more.

    Day 1: Legal Update, Entity Selection, Formation, Operating Agreements, and More

    1. New Jersey Legislative Update, Recent Trends, and Developments in LLCs (9:00-10:00 a.m.)
    2. The Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (RULLCA): What You Need to Know (10:15 – 11:00 a.m.)
    3. LLC Nuts and Bolts: Single Member and Series (11:00 a.m. – noon)
    4. LLC or S-Corp Tax Considerations (1:00 – 2:15 p.m.)
    5. How to Draft the LLC Operating Agreement (2:30 – 3:30 p.m.)
    6. LLC Formation and Operation – Process, Procedures, and Pitfalls (3:30 – 4:30 p.m.)

    Day 2: Dividing Member Interests, LLC Conversions, Reorganizations and Disputes

    1. Dividing, Issuing and Transferring LLC Member Interests(9:00 – 9:45 a.m.)
    2. LLC Conversions and Reorganizations (9:45 – 10:30 a.m.)
    3. Using LLCs to Purchase Real Estate 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.)
    4. Using LLCs in Asset Protection and Estate Planning ( 11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)
    5. Preventing and Handling Disputes in the LLC (1:30 – 2:30 p.m.)
    6. Top LLC Mistakes to Avoid in Everyday Business Practices (2:45 – 3:30 p.m.)
    7. Legal Ethics for the LLC Attorney (3:30 – 4:30 p.m.)

    NJ CLE – 14.4
    NY CLE – 14.0
    PA CLE – 12.0
    CPE for Accountants/NASBA – 14.0

    When: Monday, November 4

    Registration: 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
    Seminar: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    Where: Holiday Inn Philadelphia – Cherry Hill

    2175 Marlton Pike W
    Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

    For more information and to register, please click here.

    Posted in: Business Law, Estate Planning & Administration, Events, Health Care & Life Sciences, Taxation, Venture Tech & Emerging Growth Companies, Victor S. Elgort | Tags: ,

  • Jun 12, 2019Norris McLaughlin Members Admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court

    The law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., is proud to announce that Members of the firm, Robert E. Donatelli and Rebecca J. Price, were admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, June 10, at the 2019 Bar Association of Lehigh County (BALC) Bench Bar Conference & Supreme Court of the United States Admissions Ceremony in Washington, D.C

    Donatelli and Price also moved for admission to the Court for 21 members of The Bar Association of Lehigh County. “It was an honor to move with members of my local bar association for admission to the Supreme Court,” said Donatelli. Price added, “To be included with Bob in these members made it even more meaningful for me.”

    The Annual Bench Bar Conference is a 3-day event for BALC judges, attorneys, and others. The weekend included a cocktail reception, CLE seminars, group activities, and a formal Sunday brunch. For more information, please click here.

    Donatelli has over 40 years of experience in estate administration, wills and trusts, and real estate law. He helps clients with all aspects of estate planning – will preparation, tax issues, guardianships, powers of attorney, living wills, living trusts, and special needs trusts; and estate administration – the process of probate, valuing and managing the estate, and executing decisions on guardianships and conservatorship. In real estate law, he advises clients on residential and commercial sales transactions, real estate contracts, mortgages, re-finances, foreclosures, eminent domain, title insurance, and title disputes. Donatelli is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®. He is a former solicitor of the Register of Wills of Lehigh County; currently serves as Chair of the City of Allentown, Board of Ethics; is active in the Bar Association of Lehigh County, where he served as President in 1985; and is a member of the Barristers Inn of Court, where he served as President. Donatelli received his J.D. from University of Kansas School of Law in 1963 and his A.B. from Muhlenberg College in 1960.

    As a commercial litigator, Price represents clients in the eastern counties of Pennsylvania, the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania, and the District of New Jersey. She is involved in complex commercial business litigation, landlord/tenant matters, and contract disputes. In her general litigation practice, Price represents numerous insurance companies’ insureds in a wide spectrum of civil matters, and has also represented clients in personal injury matters. She represents local and out-of-state banks in bankruptcy, complex foreclosures, receiverships, and asset recovery matters, including negotiating deed in lieu transfers and confession of judgment for ejectment and money proceedings. She has also defended clients in actions to open or strike judgments entered by confession. She received her J.D. from William and Mary School of Law in 2007 and her B.A., summa cum laude, from Ohio State University in 2004.

    Posted in: Banking & Financial Services, Bankruptcy & Creditors' Rights, Estate Planning & Administration, Litigation, News, Rebecca J. Price, Robert E. Donatelli, Taxation | Tags: , , ,

  • Jul 17, 2018Milan Slak to Present at PICPA’s Conference on Pennsylvania Tax

    Milan D. Slak, a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., will present “Pass-Through Entities and Personal Income Tax: A Focus on Numbers and People” at this year’s Conference on Pennsylvania Tax, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Institute of Public Accountants (PICPA). The event will be held three times in different locations: July 20, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., in Cranberry; July 23, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., in Harrisburg; and July 24, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., in Malvern. For more information please visit: https://www.picpa.org/attend-cpe-events/conferences/picpa-conference-on-pennsylvania-taxes.

    Slak will present with Frank Tobias, Revenue Fiscal Analyst Supervisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. Together, they will cover the basics of Pennsylvania personal income tax and pass-through entities including the hot topics, letters and notices – why people get them, and reminders and administration. PICPA is made up of practitioners in public accounting, industry, government, and education.

    A licensed Certified Public Accountant, Slak focuses his practice on all areas of taxation, business law, and estate planning. He handles corporate, partnership, individual, and international taxation matters, and addresses tax issues and resolves tax disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and state governmental taxing authorities. He assists in the formation and organization of business entities, including S corporations, C corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships, as well as the buying and selling of businesses. He works with clients to properly structure the governing documents for these entities, and he represents clients in tax controversy matters. Slak earned his B.B.A. (Accounting), from University of Toledo, and his J.D. and LL.M in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law.

    Posted in: Milan D. Slak, News, Taxation | Tags: , , , , ,

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