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Camden NJ Business & Commercial Law Blog

How estates could be affected by changes to tax law

Formulating an estate plan in New Jersey does not mean that it must remain static and never change until the time it is needed and the testator has died. Changes to the individual circumstances and to the law will make it necessary to address potential issues and change the estate plan as needed. One issue that is garnering significant attention is the new tax law and how it will affect estate plans. Under the new law, there are changes to multiple aspects of the way taxes are assessed on estates. People should act accordingly.

Those who have substantial assets should be cognizant of how their estate plan will be affected. For example, a trust can give protection if there are creditors or the testator is in the middle of a divorce. It can allow the testator to determine how the wealth is given to heirs and keep the wealth beyond the lifetime of the testator and the heirs. Portability election lets a surviving spouse use the exemptions for federal estate and gift taxes and will stay the same under the new plan.

Business dispute leads to lawsuit against restaurant group

Conducting business in New Jersey is not easy, especially when entering a partnership for a tough environment like the food industry. A great many restaurants face turmoil not just in the number of customers who come through the door, but between the chef and the financial backers. This is notably difficult when there is a relatively well-known chef who is opening the eatery. Having legal assistance beforehand is always advisable, but when there is a business dispute, it is even more important to have a legal firm who specializes in business cases.

A chef who became known after competing on the television program "Top Chef" and his business partners are being sued by a couple who say that they loaned their restaurant group $100,000 and did so under false pretenses. They say they have asked for the money back and did not get it. The married couple says that the chef's business partner - who is also on television - sought money from them four years ago. It was to pay for property, construction and equipment for the restaurant group.

When might a contract be unenforceable?

Contracts are necessary to detail how a business arrangement will be conducted and completed. It is also important to have contracts in case there are any issues about which the participants disagree. A contract dispute can take up significant time and money in settling it. With that, it is important to know under which circumstances a contract might be unenforceable.

Capacity to contract means that the person who formed the contract had the legal ability to do so. If the person is unable to form a contract for a specific reason - mental impairment, age or some other issue - and does not understand the basis of the contract, it can be voided. In general, people who are under 18 are considered minors and cannot enter a binding contract without approval from a guardian.

Contractor accused of deceptive trade practices in repairs

In New Jersey, when people or entities come to a business agreement, it is possible that there will be disagreements as to how it moves forward and whether the result is what was bargained for. Some businesses can find themselves accused of breach of contract, deceptive trade practices and other problems as part of a contract dispute. With any business dispute, it is integral to have a law firm that understands the perspective of the business owner and can provide protection in any circumstance.

A contractor is facing accusations of having received nearly $350,000 in federal disaster relief funds while working to repair homes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The business is alleged to have committed deceptive business practices and done poor work in the repairs. The lawsuit is from the Division of Consumer Affairs. There were multiple complaints lodged. The contractor is accused of walking away from work on a home that was afflicted with damage from the storm as the residence was being raised. The company is accused of committing violations of several laws and state regulations while not completing the work for which it was paid.

What are the steps to revoking or changing wills?

With the start of a new year, many New Jersey residents are examining their estate plans and determining if changes need to be made. One factor that must be considered is revoking a will before putting a new will into effect. There are many times when this is a sound idea. Examples include significant life changes such as a marriage, a divorce, the birth of a child, or a major change in a portfolio. Knowing the steps to take to revoke or change a will is important to ensure that the new will supersedes the old one and everything is legal.

It might sound simplistic, but the testator destroying the will is a reasonable way to formulate a new one. This can be done by tearing it up, burning it, shredding it, or using other means to eliminate it. The individual can destroy his or her own will or another person can do it at the testator's request while in his or her presence. Crafting a new will is vital after destroying the old one. When the will is executed, there should be a notation that prior wills are revoked in the event there is any confusion even if the previous will was destroyed.

Business planning and succession needs legal assistance

For many people who start a business in New Jersey, it is not simply a method to earn a living and provide goods and services. A vast portion of business are the life's work of the person who started it and its future is still a concern even if they are considering moving on. It might be a family business with it passed from one person to another for generations and stayed in the family. Or there could be a complicated structure with partners and others who would like to take over. Business succession is not as simple as handing the reins to the next person in line. There could be issues that make it necessary to negotiate business disputes and there could be disagreements as to the structure of ownership. With any business and a succession plan, having a lawyer to help is crucial.

Passing a business onto a loved one can be part of an estate plan, but it can also be a decision made as the person who ran the business decides to retire or move on to something else and wants the business to be handled in a specific way. There are numerous factors that are involved with such a decision. Perhaps there are several people who want control of the business and cannot get on the same page; it might be that some members of the family want the business sold.

Entity formation is important even when selling the business

Business owners in New Jersey who are still trying to determine how best to move forward during the structural changes being proposed and implemented by the presidential administration of Donald J. Trump must keep certain factors in mind. This extends to what type of entity formation is best for them, especially when thinking about a near or distant future in which the business will seek a buyout from a larger company.

With the U.S. interest rates having been kept low, economic growth is believed to have been sparked. Along with that, private equity firms sought smaller businesses in which to invest or purchase and take over ownership outright. In the third quarter of 2017, there was an increase of nearly 2,600 business transactions. This is nearly a quarter increase from the same time in 2016. Close to 7,500 businesses were sold overall in 2017 and the prices have also increased. As interest rates may be set to rise, the window for business owners to sell to a private equity firm might be closing as borrowing costs will be higher. There are certain issues business owners must consider if they think about selling out.

Is probate important when crafting an estate plan?

For a New Jersey resident who is preparing an estate plan, a frequently overlooked part of the process is probate. Many people who take the steps to craft an estate plan do not fully grasp the importance of probate. It is vital for people who would like the distribution of assets to go smoothly and according to their estate plan that they are fully cognizant of probate and its different aspects.

After the testator has died - with or without a will - there will be a process of probate. When there is a will, all the person's assets will be distributed as the decedent stipulated. When there is no will, the state has certain probate laws that determine how the assets will be distributed. The assets will determine whether probate is necessary or not. The probate case will go to the Surrogate Court. The documents will subsequently be distributed. Depending on how the estate plan is structured, there can be an executor or an administrator. The executor will get Letters of Testamentary. The administrator will get Letters of Administration.

How to avoid a probate that drags on for years

Probate is a long process. It is necessary that the courts allow plenty of time to verify the identity of your heirs, the value of your property and the validity of your will. Your creditors must also have a chance to claim what you still owe at the time of your demise. All of this may take about nine months or longer, but this time frame depends on many factors.

Some things can greatly impede the probate process. In fact, you may have heard of some celebrity probates that drag on years after the celebrity's death, mainly because the artist left no estate plan. You are right that your preparations will go a long way toward protecting your heirs from a drawn-out probate, and you may want to know the complications that may arise even with an estate plan.

Factors of a trade name for a New Jersey business start up

Many New Jersey residents have a dream to start their own business. Often, they even have a solid product or service to sell at the start. However, the technical aspects of business formation are not just confusing, but are outright frightening. Such issues as what the legal form of the business will be and how to go about putting it into action can leave prospective business owners stagnant. This is when it is imperative to maintain focus on the goal and to have legal assistance with the start-up company and how to get it moving in the right direction.

If the person would like to have a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, it is common to use a trade name. For people who are simply using their own name for the business, they will not have to move forward with trade name registration. Registering is advised but not necessary.

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