22529964_mJust as you begin thinking about planning your next vacation, consider whether you are prepared if an emergency should arise.

Give yourself plenty of time.

Giving yourself plenty of time to review and update your estate plan helps ensure that the necessary documents are in order and in accordance with your wishes.  Too many people wait until the last minute before going on vacation to contact their attorneys.  But, rushing through estate planning is fraught with potential problems.  You may inadvertently forget to mention something you wanted included in a Will, or your medical directives may not be worded exactly as you wished, or you may not have updated guardian information for your children.

Consider the possibilities and make sure you have the key documents in place.  In the event of an illness or an accident, someone at home may need to manage your financial affairs or take care of minor children until you are well again.  Among the key documents you should consider are

  • Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Directives/Living Wills
  • HIPAA Release, and
  • Will and/or Trust Documents

Check your insurance coverage to understand what you are covered for in the event of a car accident or the need for medical services abroad:

  •  Car Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • Life Insurance and Beneficiary Designations

It takes time to get it right.  That’s why it’s so important to contact your attorney and start the process well before you board that plane.

Getting Legal Help:

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, can help you with all your estate planning needs.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.







43028800_sHoliday visits often highlight how much time has passed since we last saw loved ones.  And, sometimes, during these visits, we notice physical or cognitive changes in elderly friends or family members that are worrisome.

When reflecting back on a visit, the following “clues” may suggest that an elderly loved one has a cognitive or physical disability that needs to be addressed:

1. If you visited his/her home,

a.  was there an unusual amount of clutter and debris?

b.  did you see stacks of unopened mail and piles of laundry?

c.  was the refrigerator relatively empty; did it contain an excessive amount of outdated or spoiled food?

d. did the cabinets contain misplaced items like cleaning supplies in the food pantry or keys in the refrigerator?

2.  Regardless of where the visit took place, did your loved one

a. appear poorly groomed?

b. appear to have gained or lost a significant amount of weight?

c. have trouble hearing, following the conversation, or recognizing family members and friends?

d. exhibit any other behaviors that seemed to limit his/her ability to function normally?

If you noticed some or all of the above, it may be time to have a discussion with that individual.   This is no small challenge.  Having a conversation with a friend or family member regarding his/her quality of life going forward and end-of-life issues requires a great deal of sensitivity. You don’t want to insult or frighten anyone.  On the other hand, addressing the problem early on may help avoid many more difficult problems later.  Gaining a thorough understanding of a person’s beliefs, values, and wishes may ultimately help the family and designated caregiver make the tough decisions consistent with that person’s preferences.

And while you’re at it, it’s important that you encourage your loved one to have decisions about finances, health care, and end-of-life issues put in writing.  That means having legal documents prepared such as Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Health Care Proxies.  Although doing so  costs money, the time and stress avoided in the long run can make this a truly wise investment.  Once a person is incapacitated, certain circumstances (such as cognitive impairment) may prevent him/her from proceeding with preparing documents.  However, if the documents are already in place, then family members, caregivers and the courts have written, legal instructions to fall back on, removing a lot of potential guesswork.

Getting Legal Help:

If you need guidance regarding documents required to protect a loved one, contact experienced Estate Planning and Probate Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, at 973-841-5111.


S2016tatistics show that New Year’s resolutions are maintained continuously by most Americans for only one or two weeks. Here are 5 resolutions that you can keep and that will help protect you and your family:

  1. Make sure that my family knows what I want if I become ill or incapacitated and provide them the tools to get things done for me.
  2. Give a trusted person the authority to take care of my health and my financial affairs should I become incapacitated.
  3. Make sure that my assets (the things I own) will be distributed the way I want by the person I have chosen to handle my affairs.
  4. Make sure that I have arranged my affairs to minimize taxes, and have helped provide a secure financial future for my spouse, children and other heirs.
  5. Make sure that I have anticipated long term care expenses, so I can preserve assets for myself and my heirs.

You can accomplish these resolutions by putting together a proper estate and long term care plan.  An estate and long term care plan prepared by a knowledgeable estate planning attorney will address these resolutions through the proper use of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and proper beneficiary designations, and life and long term care insurance.

To make 2016 the year you keep your resolutions – call  experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A Goodman today at 973-841-5111 to assist you in creating an estate plan that will implement your 5 New Year’s resolutions.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that for 2016 the estate and gift tax exemption limit increases to $5.45 million per person, 34660340_s an increase from $5.43 million per person.  A qualifying married couple can now gift during life or at death up to $10.9 million without incurring federal estate or gift taxes.   These changes do not impact the New Jersey estate tax exemption which continues at $675,000 per person.

For a full review of the IRS changes, See Ashlea Ebeling, IRS Announces 2016 Estate And Gift Tax Limits: The $10.9 Million Tax Break, Forbes, October 22, 2015.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, can help you with all your estate planning needs.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.


Can I Create A Trust for my Husband as His Attorney-in-Fact?

October 13, 2015

A general durable power of attorney is an important estate planning and elder law planning tool.   A power of attorney allows the attorney-in-fact, also referred to as the agent, to manage the legal and financial affairs of the principal (the person making the power of attorney designation).  The agent’s authority comes from state law […]

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Consider the Obligations and Burdens With Care before Accepting Appointment as Executor

October 4, 2015

Being designated by a friend or a loved one as the Executor of his or her estate is an honor, but with that designation comes many responsibilities and legal risks. The Executor’s work begins after the death of the testator (the person who made the Will).  The Executor is responsible for “settling” the estate which means that the […]

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I’m Overwhelmed – I Need Help With My Banking Affairs!

June 5, 2015

For many seniors, taking care of their affairs, particularly paying bills, banking, and other financial matters, becomes more and more difficult as the years go by.  When this happens, many people opt to have a close relative or other highly trusted person assist them with these matters.  The following discussion explores two very common options. […]

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Testamentary Trusts – Controlling Your Assets After Your Gone!

May 5, 2015

Preparing your Last Will and Testament (the Will) is critical for helping insure that your wishes are respected after you’re gone.  Married couples with children may have special concerns regarding how money bequeathed to the surviving partner is handled after the survivor passes away.  The following example demonstrates how this type of issue may be […]

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Step-Parents and Stepchildren – Keeping the Peace After You’re Gone

April 23, 2015

A family feud between Robin Williams’s widow and his children from prior marriages has received a lot of press.  A major issue in this feud involves Mr. Williams’s tangible personal  property, personal items he collected over the years.  Mrs. Williams and her stepchildren differ on which items were bequeathed to them. This story is a […]

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My Husband Just Died And Debt Collectors Are Calling!

January 13, 2015

Susan went through a very hard time when her husband, Steven, died.  Not only was she grieving the loss of her husband, but she had to deal with so many other things – making funeral arrangements, contacting Steven’s employer, the life insurance company, their lawyer, the bank.  And on and on it went.  And then, in […]

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