Category: Media Clips

Wall Street Journal Taps McManus for Advice: “Separate Assets, Joint Problems”

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Andrea Coombes, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, recently spoke with McManus & Associates founding Principal John O. McManus for a story looking at married couples who keep their investment accounts separate and sometimes even their house, too, with only one spouse on the title. For these duos, their tax-deferred retirement accounts are typically owned singly, as well. A top AV-rated attorney, McManus helped Coombes examine some of the potential problems that can arise when a couple keeps assets separate, in addition to solutions to those problems.

On Sunday, Coombes’ story, “Separate Assets, Joint Problems,” was published and problems that can arise for couples who don’t merge their accounts revealed. Here are the top four problems identified in the article:

1. Those assets aren’t necessarily separate under the law.

2. Separate accounts may foster a failure to communicate.

3. Separately owned property may be at greater risk in a bankruptcy or lawsuit.

4. Separate accounts can lead to administrative difficulties.

For the third item, Coombes points out that “joint ownership can protect your nonfinancial assets if you file for bankruptcy or a lawsuit is filed against you, because creditors and plaintiffs tend to steer clear of property in which they’ll end up owning a half interest.” Property owned separately, however, isn’t automatically protected in that way, but Coombes cites advice from McManus on how to shield individually owned assets in such situations. From the article:

Joint ownership is a “very good way to serve as a deterrent for people going after some of your primary assets,” like a house, says John McManus, founder of law firm McManus & Associates in New Providence, N.J. “They don’t want that asset in a plaintiff’s action against me because they cannot easily force my wife to sell,” he says. “And now they’re stuck with a one-half interest in this property.”

However, for estate-planning reasons, Mr. McManus prefers that his clients hold assets in separate names so they can be placed in individual trusts, which can make it easier to direct where those assets end up after you’re gone. (Separate may mean each spouse owns various assets outright, or that they share ownership through a “tenants in common” designation—a form of co-ownership where each owns his or her share independently.)

For example, he says, a trust could be set up this way: “If my wife dies, she leaves me as trustee. I can spend it, I can use it as I need to, but when I die, the only place that that’s going is to our children and not to my new spouse.”

Meanwhile, the assets are protected against creditors or litigants. Mr. McManus uses his house as an example: “I’ll put my half interest in trust today,” he says, so his interest goes to his wife when he dies. “And if I’m sued, I’ve already surrendered my interest in the house, so I’m protected.”

What McManus is referring to is a completed gift of a 50% interest in the residence to an irrevocable trust. A creditor could attack the interest in a revocable trust, but a properly drafted irrevocable trust agreement with spendthrift provisions is generally not accessible to a creditor.

To get details on the other three items on Coombes’ list, check out the full story here.

McManus & Associates can help you determine whether it’s best for you and your spouse to keep assets separate (and, if so, which ones). Give us a call at 908.898.0100 to discuss.

Trusts & Estates/WealthManagement.com Publishes Article by McManus

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Trusts & Estates/WealthManagement.com this week published an article from McManus & Associates Founding Principal and top AV-rated Attorney John O. McManus. The piece, “Top 10 Considerations for Estate Planning with Life Insurance,” was also be blasted out in the publication’s e-newsletter on October 30th.

The contribution shares the following 10 questions for advisors to discuss with clients:

  •  If a life insurance policy is owned by a trust, what’s the ongoing maintenance required for the strategy to succeed most effectively?
  • What are Cristofani beneficiaries and how can they make a life insurance trust even more gift tax efficient?
  • How can insurance be used to facilitate a business succession plan?
  • Term, whole life, 2nd to die–from a layman’s standpoint, what are the unique benefits of each?
  • How can ownership and beneficiary designations for a life insurance policy affect the taxable assets of the estate?
  • How do non-citizens avoid qualified domestic trust (QDOT) requirements with a life insurance trust?
  • What are some strategies to avoid the three-year look-back period when existing insurance is transferred to a trust?
  • Annual exemption gifts can fund a life insurance trust gift tax-free, but what about generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax issues? How is the trust affected?
  • When the terms of an irrevocable trust don’t reflect the wishes of the parties, what options are available?
  • How can life insurance be used as a wealth replacement strategy with charitable giving?

To find out what advice John had for each of the above, check out his full article here.

Mommy Blog Brings Estate Planning Advice to Readers

motherhood moment

Motherhood Moment, an advice mecca for moms, recently shared with readers guidance from the latest McManus & Associates’ educational conference call (we love the idea that moms can benefit from our focus series, because our practice not only provides asset protection, but helps continue a legacy of family values through generations). In a Motherhood Moment post titled, “Thrifty Thinking: Estate Planning with Life Insurance,” it’s noted that the use of life insurance in one’s estate plan can provide significant protection for loved ones, whether as a wealth replacement strategy combined with philanthropic giving or as a safeguard to cover expenses and taxes.

The post highlights the most important considerations when planning with life insurance and lists the 10 questions below for which Motherhood Moment readers should find answers:

  1. If a life insurance policy is owned by a trust, what is the ongoing maintenance required for the strategy to succeed most effectively?
  1. What are Cristofani beneficiaries and how can they make a life insurance trust even more gift tax efficient?
  1. How can insurance be utilized to facilitate a business succession plan?
  1. Term, whole life, 2nd to die – from a layman’s standpoint, what are the unique benefits of each?
  1. How can ownership and beneficiary designations for a life insurance policy affect the taxable assets of the estate?
  1. How do non-citizens avoid qualified domestic trust requirements with a life insurance trust?
  1. What are some strategies to avoid the three-year look-back period when existing insurance is transferred to a trust?
  1. Annual exemption gifts can fund a life insurance trust gift tax-free, but what about generation-skipping tax issues? How is the trust affected?
  1. When the terms of an irrevocable trust do not reflect the wishes of the parties, what options are available?
  1. How can life insurance be used as a wealth replacement strategy with charitable giving?

For more tips and tricks for families, visit Motherhood Moment here.

Motley Fool Turns to McManus to Answer, “Who Should Be Executor?”

Daily Finance

Michele Lerner, a contributing writer to The Motley Fool, this week turned to McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus to answer the question, “Who Should You Ask to Be Executor of Your Estate?” From the article:

“A common adage in the industry is to name your enemy as your executor as a means of revenge,” says John O. McManus, an estate attorney and founding principal of McManus & Associates in New York City. “It’s a thankless job. If you appoint someone you love as executor, get your house in order. Otherwise, appoint someone you do not.”

Lerner points out that many people choose their closest relatives, but “before you decide, think hard about what you’re asking this person to do.”

She goes on to share that she talked to McManus about “what it means to be an executor and how to go about choosing one.” Below are the questions for which she shares answers from McManus & Associates:

Q: What are the responsibilities of an executor?
Q: Do you need to have a financial or legal background?
Q: How much time does it take to be an executor?
Q: Should you have more than one executor or is it best to have only one?
Q: Is it best to ask someone before you name them in your will as executor?
Q: Can someone turn down the job of executor?
Q: Can you get compensated for the time you put in as an executor?
Q: Can you be sued as an executor?
Q: Is there anything an executor can do to reduce family fights over personal property?

To find all of our answers to Lerner’s questions, check out the Daily Finance article here.

Professor of Law Points to McManus’ Guidance on Using Life Insurance in Your Estate Plan

Gerry W. Beyer

Gerry Beyer, Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law, recently featured on his blog McManus & Associates’ latest educational conference call, “Top 10 Things to Know to Make the Most of Life Insurance in Estate Planning.” As pointed out by Beyer, using life insurance in your estate plan can provide significant protection for your loved ones.

To see the top 10 questions to ask yourself when estate planning with life insurance, read Beyer’s post. And check out more hot topics related to estate planning by visiting “Wills, Trusts, and Estates Prof Blog,” a member of the Law Professor Blogs Network sponsored by Wolters Kluwer.

McManus & Associates Expertise Featured by Wills, Trusts, and Estates Prof Blog

Gerry W. Beyer

Gerry W. Beyer

Gerry Beyer, Professor of Law at Texas Tech Univ. School of Law, writes “Wills, Trusts, and Estates Prof Blog,” a member of the Law Professor Blogs Network sponsored by Wolters Kluwer. Beyer recently took a closer look at the most recent educational conference call held by McManus & Associates and posted a brief, titled “10 Most Important Considerations for Domestic Asset Protection Dynasty Trusts.”

From the post:

Jurisdictions have different laws when it comes to determining the jurisdiction of trusts and trust property. Founding Principal of McManus & Associates, John O. McManus, has shared his expertise by listing the ten most important considerations for deciding where to site your trust. Listed below are the considerations.

To read Beyer’s post and find a wealth of information on estate planning, head on over to Wills, Trusts, and Estates Prof Blog at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/. 

McManus in DailyFinance: “Stop Family Feuds Over Inheritances Before They Start”

Daily Finance

Michele Lerner, contributing writer for The Motley Fool, recently spoke with McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus to take a deeper dive on a recent chapter of the firm’s educational series, “‘These are a few of my favorite things’ – Top 10 Considerations when Planning for Tangible Personal Property”.

She this week published a very interesting article based on the conversation that’s definitely worth the read. Lerner’s story, “Stop Family Feuds Over Inheritances Before They Start,” shares colorful examples, telling stats and “5 Tips to Prevent Family Fights Over Heirlooms” from McManus.

From the write-up:

“More than 50 percent of the lawsuits we see are about items that have a total asset value of less than 10 percent of someone’s estate,” says John O. McManus, an estate attorney and founding principal of McManus & Associates in New York City. “The toughest part about family fights over a piece of jewelry or a painting is that it isn’t about the value of the item, it’s about what it means to loved ones.”

McManus goes on to say:

“Fighting over personal property is the match to the tinderbox of emotions…Sometimes feuds start because of lingering resentments over who worked the hardest to take care of Mom or Dad when they were sick or even over who got the biggest scoop of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving every year.”

To illustrate the all-too-common occurrence, Lerner shares several examples from John:

In one case, McManus says, a woman had her sister arrested for stealing less than $100 of clothing from their deceased mother’s apartment. In another case, brothers split in a lifelong feud over their father’s watch.

Lerner captures McManus’ key advice at the end of the article with “5 Tips to Prevent Family Fights Over Heirlooms”: Here’s what made the cut:

1. Make an inventory.

2. Share your list with family members.

3. Appraise your property.

4. Set up a jury system.

5. Write a personal property memo.

To get more details on each of these five tips, check out the full story here.

Fox Business: McManus shares advice on how to ensure a trust meets personal, financial needs

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Top-rated Attorney John O. McManus recently spoke with Bankrate Reporter Judy Martel about how to ensure a trust is set up to meet your personal and financial needs. Published today and syndicated by Fox Business, Martel’s piece, “An Irrevocable Trust That Evolves with You,” covers the keys to choosing a trust that “meets your specific needs while building in the maximum amount of flexibility allowed so that, as your needs change and evolve, you retain some power over the trust.”

In the article, Martel shares counsel from McManus:

One of the first important considerations when setting up a trust is its location, says John McManus, founder of McManus & Associates in New Providence, N.J. Some states offer better creditor protection, allow for a trust to exist for a longer period of years before becoming taxable or do not impose state income tax on trust assets. A few states, he says — notably Alaska, Delaware, South Dakota and Nevada — provide additional power to the trust creator while still protecting assets from creditors and maintaining the trust’s tax-beneficial status. Although trusts can be set up in those states regardless of where you live, it is typically more expensive.

She also draws on knowledge shared by McManus, the founding principal of McManus & Associates, to help readers understand the structure of a trust:

At the top of the triangle is the trustee, the person who has legal title to the assets in the trust and the one responsible for managing the trust, making discretionary decisions and carrying out the terms of the trust agreement. The creator can be the trustee, but generally that’s not a good idea in most states because, depending on how the trust is written, the state laws and how much discretionary power the creator has, the trust can lose its tax-beneficial status or be subject to creditors, McManus says.

Beneficiaries, the second point of the triangle, are those who will receive the beneficial interest in the trust. They can be amended, added or dropped if the creator of the trust retains the right of appointment, McManus says. “Let’s say I have two layers of beneficiaries in my trust — first to my wife and sister and then to my children and my sister’s children,” McManus says. “After I create the trust, I want to cut out one of the beneficiaries, or one of them needs more money. I have the right to choose who will receive money and how much,” he says. Even better, he adds, “I don’t have to decide that right away. That allows people to put a lot of assets in that trust when they otherwise might not because who knows how my sister’s children will turn out or how my children will turn out?”

What standards help ensure that the beneficiary’s needs are met within reason and as defined by the trust agreement?

The amount of distribution is also up to the creator of the trust. It can be controlled by the use of ascertainable standards, which restrict the trustee to distributions for the benefit of health, education, maintenance and support, says McManus…They also protect the trust from being taxed if a child beneficiary is also named as trustee, McManus says.

To learn more about how to draft an irrevocable trust properly to save in estate taxes and give you “the comfort of knowing you’ve ensured a financial future for your beneficiaries,” read the whole story here.

Flickr/aresauburn™

Flickr/aresauburn™

McManus & Associates’ Advice on Irrevocable Trusts Featured by The Trust Advisor

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The Trust Advisor, dubbed as “America’s Leading Wealth Management e-Newsletter,” today published an article based on McManus & Associates’ latest client conference call in our educational series. The piece, titled “The Trusts Are Signed, Now It’s Time To Keep Them Running,” opens by pointing out that the fiscal cliff pushed billions of dollars into irrevocable trusts.

Author of the story Scott Martin observes that “most of the assets have already flown, leaving many advisors who rode the trust wave to ask what’s next.” Martin goes on to cite advice from top-AV rated Attorney and Founding Principal of McManus & Associates John O. McManus:

This is actually a big opportunity for those who can switch gears from helping people create trusts to the heavy lifting of keeping those vehicles properly, says top attorney John O. McManus.

He still preaches the importance of those families who have not yet transferred their estates into an irrevocable trust – as he notes, the assets should continue to appreciate – but those who already have are often at a loss.

“I always explain to my clients that the creation of a trust shouldn’t be viewed as a box to check,” he says. “Rather than setting up the trust and moving on, new planning ideas can be continually implemented that utilize the trust as a leading instrument to accomplish one’s financial mission.”

Check out the full write-up to see McManus’ checklist for managing an existing irrevocable trust.

Wall Street Journal Cites Tips on Family Meetings from John McManus

On May 11th, an article by Kelly Greene titled “When It’s Time to Huddle” appeared on page B8 in The Wall Street Journal. Greene’s story discusses an important issue that families across America are facing every day: complicated financial and legal planning for elderly relatives. In the piece, Greene relays key tips for tackling this challenge:

Be inclusive.

Don’t delay.

Hire a professional referee.

Set an agenda in advance.

Tap long-distance relatives.

Under “Don’t delay,” Greene captures advice from McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus that “families should hold meetings before any serious health problems develop.” From the article:

John McManus, an estate-planning lawyer in New Providence, N.J., says there is a “gaping hole” in family planning around preparing for parents’ aging. He considers instituting family meetings among his clients’ families, and in his own, one of his top professional and personal priorities, he says.

“Meetings are critical for getting ideas out on the table,” Mr. McManus says. “There is no one correct answer on how to deal with Mom or Dad’s health issue,” so it’s helpful to have time to think through the choices as a family.

For more tips, check out the full story. And for guidance on how to handle family meetings addressing the health of older loved ones, give McManus & Associates a call at (908) 898-0100.