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Estate Planning

This is just a quick note to clarify something that many of my first time clients fail to understand.  The Federal Gift Tax Exemption is $14,000 as of 2016.  This means that you can give to as many individuals as you like $14,000 without having to file a Federal Gift Tax Return.  If, however, you gift more than $14,000 to anyone this year, then you are required to file a Federal Gift Tax Return also known as a Form 709.  That return allows the IRS to keep track of those taxable gifts.  Those gifts then offset your Federal Estate Tax exemption.  So, for example, in 2016 you have a $5,450,000 Estate Tax Exemption.  If you gave $14,001 to someone – then you are required to file a Gift Tax return which will in turn reduce your $5,450,000 Estate Tax return to $5,449,999.  If you gave $5,464,000 ($5,450,000 plus 14,000) then you will have Zero (0) Estate tax exemption left, so when you die anything you leave to someone other than a spouse or charity will be taxed.  Now, this is a simplified explanation of how the gift tax and estate tax exemptions work together.

Please remember one thing however, just because you are allowed to make a $14,000 annual gift for gift tax purposes does not mean that this gift is exempt from Medicaid look-back rules.  Gift Tax/Estate Tax rules are distinct and separate from Medicaid Rules.

If you have any gift tax, estate tax or elder law matters, please do not hesitate to call us.  Remember though, reading this blog does not create an attorney client relationship and does not constitute legal advice for you to rely upon.  If you want us to become your attorney, you must sign an engagement letter.


My Dad used to like to say that he was going to spend his last dollar on the last day of his life.  It was a fairly ambitious goal that reflected his desire to get the most out of life and enjoy the fruits of his lifetime of labor.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  He died of an aneurism before he was even able to fully retire.  That was the bad news. The good news was that he left my Mom in very good financial shape, so she doesn’t have to worry about money (although she still does).

Working hard, saving smart and good estate planning helped my Dad to at least partially reach his goal of security in his later years, even if it was only for his wife.  Not unlike Warren Buffet, my father wanted his children to make their own way, earn their own financial security and not rely on some largesse that may or may not come from Daddy.  Hand in hand with that view was the money he earned belonged to him.  He earned it.  He sacrificed to save it, so why should the government take ANY of it?  The government didn’t earn it, he did.

All of this brings me to the point of this post.  An article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal highlighted the importance as well as the changing nature of estate planning.  The central message of the article is that not only is estate planning crucial to avoiding estate taxes upon your death, but managing your income tax obligations while you are still alive is crucial for preserving your wealth and should be a part of every comprehensive estate plan.  Anyone with a television or an internet connection can tell you that who should be taxed and how much is a hot political topic and the trend is heading higher on both counts.  While higher taxes and newer ways for the government to put its hand into your pocket are the bad news, the good news is that there are a number of tools and strategies that you can employ to structure your financial security and legacy as you see fit.

Each individual and family is different and each requires an attorney who will listen to their wishes, and develop a customized plan that’s right for them.  At Tiboni and Tiboni, we’ll take the time to get to know you, understand your wishes and work with you to create the right plan for you.  IT’S YOUR MONEY!!  YOU worked hard, sacrificed and saved to get where you are financially.  YOU should decide where your hard-earned money goes when your time is up, not some Uncle Sam that lives in Washington, or some other creepy uncle in Trenton or Albany just waiting to get their hands on your cash.

My Dad ran out of time to see the fulfillment of his plan, but he had a plan and that plan is providing for my Mom to this day.  She will never have to worry about financial security.  Give us a call and let us help you to make your plan today!

In 1964 Bob Dylan sang “The times, they are a changin’”.  Those words ring as true today as they did back then.  This past week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the United States Department of Treasury released a joint ruling that stated:

Same sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.

Whether you currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, or one that does not makes no difference, the federal government of the United States of America will recognize your marriage for all tax purposes.

So what does that mean?  It means that all legally married same-sex couples will have clear and unambiguous tax filing guidance across the country.  So, if any same-sex married couple wants to move to another state, any state, their status for filing federal taxes won’t change.  It also provides access to all the benefits, protections and responsibilities available under federal tax law.  This policy change by the IRS and Treasury Department also means that when legally married same-sex couples file their taxes, every category that allows a distinction for being married, including; personal and dependency deductions, contributing to an IRA or other qualified plan, the earned income credit, child tax credit, employee benefits and standard deductions, the same-sex married couple can file either married, filing jointly or married, filing separately.

There’s even more good news: the IRS has a three-year “look-back” policy, so as a same-sex couple that has been legally married for any of that time, you are entitled to file amended returns for each year that qualifies.   There is no obligation to file amended returns but it may be well worth it, if it puts more money back in your pocket!

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that this ruling DOES NOT apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state laws.  Only couples legally married in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, any U.S. territory or a foreign country can benefit from this new rule.

This latest ruling comes on the heels of an announcement by the Department of Defense (DOD) extending benefits to same-sex spouses and civilian employees.  There is rapid change happening in how the federal government is viewing same-sex marriages and it doesn’t look as if it is going to stop here.  Important decisions await in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a host of other regulatory areas that factor in one’s marital status.

The challenge will be for married same-sex couples to navigate all of these changes in the law to maximize the benefit to them and take full advantage as they manage their estate planning to ensure that their families are taken care of and their wishes are carried out.

At Tiboni & Tiboni, we can help you understand the changes, explain how they affect you and your family and help you create an estate plan that maximizes these new benefits.  The times they are a-changin’, with more changes to come.  Every family is unique. Let us assist you, in these exciting times, in crafting a custom estate plan that addresses your family’s specific needs.

Featured on FoxSearchLight.com, February 8, 2011

CameronCook on February 8th, 2011

The cast and crew of Tom McCarthy’s WIN WIN discuss the film with their Sundance audience.

Article on The Alternative Press, February 21, 2011

View article and pictures on TheAlternativePress.com

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – New Providence native and current resident Joe Tiboni wasn’t a good wrestler back in high school.  “Wrestling in high school when not good at it is one of the most humbling experiences.  You’re basically wearing tights and you get beat up in front of your friends and family,” he told The Alternative Press.  The humility that Joe was taught as a wrestler at New Providence High School is still evident today despite his successful law practice on South Street and his new-found stardom as the co-writer of Win-Win, set to hit theaters March 18th.  Tiboni co-wrote the story with childhood friend and wrestling teammate at New Providence High School Tom McCarthy, an award-winning screenwriter for films such as The Station Agent and The Visitor.  “We turned our wrestling humiliation into something positive – – it’s our own form of personal therapy,” Tiboni said.

Tiboni began gathering information for the screenplay several years ago at the encouragement of Tom who urged him to keep a notebook to record in general terms stories of Tiboni’s elder law clients.  “I have fascinating clients with terrific stories.  People who lived through World War II, Holocaust survivors, the Great Depression, people who fought in Vietnam, even the secretary to John Lennon,” Tiboni said.  “It’s a built-in story mill.  As a bonus for helping people, I get to hear their stories,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni create a movie starring award-winning actor Paul Giamatti — and New Providence itself.

Article on Patch.com, By Michelle Colandrea | February 18, 2011

Win Win movie trailer features numerous references to New Providence High School. The film will be out in limited release on March 18. Courtesy of You Tube.


If you aren’t already wearing your favorite New Providence logo high school sweatshirt, it’s time to dig yours out of the closet because this town and its landmark high school are about to be famous.

By now, you’ve probably heard the buzz about Win Win, a new film that features acclaimed actor Paul Giamatti in a hooded green-and-gold New Providence Pioneers sweatshirt and numerous scenes from an eerily familiar high-school gymnasium. Read the rest of this entry »

New Providence News at the Independent Press on NJ.com

By Liz Keill/Independent Press
Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 10:17 AM     Updated: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 2:21 PM

NEW PROVIDENCE — “Win Win,” a new movie that has received kudos at the Sundance Film Festival, is putting New Providence on the map far beyond the borders of New Jersey.

Joe Tiboni, a borough resident and attorney, combined his expertise in elder law with a love of writing to collaborate with his friend Tom McCarthy for “Win/Win.”

McCarthy, has has had major successes with “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor” as well as writing the script for the animated film, “Up.” McCarthy also grew up in New Providence and the two have been friends since they were 10 years old.

Liz Keill AUTHOR AT WORK — Joe Tiboni, screenwriter for “Win Win” is back at his “regular” job at his law office in New Providence.

“This is a little different from his other movies,” Tiboni said of McCarthy’s serious takes on illegal immigrants in “The Visitor” and a dwarf (Peter Dinklage of Mendham) who inherits an abandoned train station in “The Station Agent.” The new movie is a comedy, yet it also deals with the elderly and how they can be mistreated. Tiboni observed that laughter can often make a point better than tragedy can.

In the film, Paul Giamatti plays an eldercare lawyer, Mike Flaherty, much like Tiboni. They both have two daughters and enjoy wrestling. But there, the similarity ends. Flaherty puts his client in a nursing home in a scheme to save his own business, something Tiboni said he would never do. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Win Win” Trailer
About the Movie
Win Win is based on the story by Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni. When a disheartened attorney moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach stumbles across a star athlete, things seem to be looking up. That is, until the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.
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Tiboni & Tiboni, LLP
166 South Street
New Providence, NJ 07974
Ph: 908-286-1136
Fax: 908-286-1605