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Friday, April 29, 2016

News and Updates

It's been a busy few weeks, and as I sit here in my desk at 7 o'clock on a Friday, I just wanted to take a moment to make a few announcements.

First, effective today, Franklyn Z. Aronson, Esq., who has been Of Counsel to our firm, is retiring. Frank, thank you for all your advice these last few years and I wish you all the best in retirement... although I know we will see you around the office quite a bit!

Second, I wish to welcome Jessica J. Sauer, Esq. as an associate to our firm.  She will be joining us in the estate planning department and also assisting on guardianship matters.

Third, Pierson W. Backes, Esq. will be officially joining our firm as Of Counsel in the estate litigation department.  As many of you know, Pierce and I have worked closely together for years, mostly with me working as Of Counsel to his firm with respect to estate planning matters.  Lately, we have had more and more contested probate matters and trust litigation cases, and I am confident he will be able to assist our clients in these matters.

Fourth, I wish to thank my wife, Asako, for all of her hard work over the past few months in getting our new website, www.Wills-Trusts.net, up and running.  Please let me know what you think and if there are any suggestions you might have.

Monday, April 4, 2016

New Jersey Enacts Uniform Trust Code into Law

While this may not sound like big news, it is actually very exciting that New Jersey has finally enacted the Uniform Trust Code (UTC) into law.  The new law will go into effect on July 17, 2016.  When it does, New Jersey will join Pennsylvania, Florida and a majority of other states in adopting most of the provisions of the UTC.

What does this mean for you though?  For the most part, if you have have a trust and have ever said to yourself, "The trustees and beneficiaries all agree this is outdated and certain provisions should be modified", this law is for you!

The best part about the UTC is that it makes it easier to modify a trust without going to court to have it amended.  There are obviously certain limitations, but simple things are much easier including:
1)  like moving the trust from one jurisdiction to another;
2)  interpreting confusing terms of a trust;
3)  approving the resignation of a trustee;
4)  appointing a new trustee
5)  granting or removing a trustee power; 
6)  determining trustee compensation; 
7)  approving an accounting; 
8)  terminating a trust (if not inconsistent with terms of trust); 
9)  reforming mistakes; and
10)  allowing a parent to bind minor children and unborn children if there is no conflict of interest.

Some other interesting provisions in the new law include:
1)  Even if a trust says that a beneficiary is not to be told about a trust, the Trustee must respond to the requests of certain beneficiaries and give them a copy of the trust document and other information related to the administration of the trust.
2)  It clarifies some of the terms of trusts for animals/pets.
3)  It clarifies the time-frame for a person to contest the validity of a trust.
4)  It clarifies to what extent and how a trustee can rely on financial advisers.

The new law, while effective starting on July 17, 2016, will apply to all trusts, whenever created.  This does not necessarily mean if you have a trust that you need to amend it.  However, some people may want to amend the trusts as soon as possible if:
1)  You really want to restrict your heirs from having the ability to modify the trust; or
2)  You have a split interest charitable trust based in New Jersey (although it is unclear if the charity or the Attorney General of NJ will consent to this); or
3)  You know that the trust document has a mistake and you'd rather try to convince the people alive now to fix it than wait for the next generation.