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Divorce Finances: Know the Numbers

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Most people are not born independently wealthy so saving for retirement is a part of budgeting. Ideally married couples work together to save money for their old age.  They know exactly how much the other has and they know how it has been invested, right?

Fidelity Investments recently published the 2015 edition of it’s online biennial Couples Study. Surprisingly, the study showed that although many couples think they communicate well about money 40% of the couples surveyed didn’t know how much money their spouse made the previous year.

Sadly, the study also showed that over 50% of the couples did not know how much money they would need in retirement to maintain their current standard of living.  What does this have to do with divorce? Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to ask for a fair settlement in a divorce if they don’t know how much money their spouse made or how much money they needed to maintain their current standard of living?

Investment companies like Fidelity help people improve their understanding of the family finances.  A good place to start is taking an active role in understanding the tax returns or reading the credit card bills.  When someone is getting divorced or thinking about getting divorce, and if they have never managed their own finances before, it is a good idea to look for an investment firm and financial advisor to help.

From the perspective of a divorce attorney,  it seems that often times one spouse is more prepared than the other.  Generally people don’t plan their divorce, and often end up with a lack of financial literacy.  When a person receives a large settlement and is responsible, for the first time in many years, for paying the bills solo then financial literacy has real implications for the future.

In New York and many other states a person is entitled to half of their spouse’s IRA, 401K, or other retirement investment if they have been married at least 10 years.  There are also statutes now which determine temporary and permanent alimony payments and child support.  At Jones Morrison, we can help teach financial literacy and provide the financial and litigation support necessary to successfully navigate the future.

Allison Levinson
Of Counsel, Jones Morrison, LLP

Kids X-Press, Inc. Recognizes Stephen Jones as “Dream Big” Honoree at Annual Touch the Sky Reception

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Jones Morrison, LLP is pleased to announce Stephen Jones, our managing partner, was recognized as a “Dream Big” honoree at Kids X-Press Inc.’s Annual Touch the Sky reception.

 

Steve expressed his appreciation saying, “Reading has been for me a window on the world, past, present and future. I have connected with people I will never meet, some who never existed. Reading and my books have been constant companions and the path to a bigger future. The work of Kids X-Press is of unlimited opportunity. Thanks to you for the recognition.”

 

Kids X-Press, Inc. is a non-profit organization that promotes learning, literacy and leadership to children of all backgrounds and abilities.  Through its magazine and program, Kids X-Press, Inc. encourages children to express themselves by providing them with a forum through which they can communicate.  Marsha Tom, Executive Director of Kids X-Press said, “We were proud to recognize an impressive list of honorees who come from a variety of fields and embody the very lessons that Kids X-Press espouses to its students: that success can be achieved through hard work, determination and dreaming big.  Events like ‘Touch the Sky’ enable us to enrich, support and develop young talent from throughout our communities and further.”

 

Stephen Jones, along with several other honorees, was acknowledged for being a role model to the children that participate with Kids X-Press.  The other honorees included Brooke Baldwin, CNN Reporter/Anchor; Peter Herrero, Founder and General Manager of New York Hospitality Group; Tom Kallish, Founder of Tommie Copper, Inc.; Kenneth Theobalds, Vice President of Government & Regulatory Affairs, Entergy Nuclear; and Nivia Viera, founder of Kids X-Press and magazine publisher, who retired in May after 14 years with the organization.  ”All of the honorees have made incredible contributions to the community and we are thankful for their passion to make a difference,” said Yuval Marcus, chairman of the Kids X-Press Board of Directors.

 

The event was held at C.V. Rich Mansion in White Plains on October 28, 2015.  For more information about Kids X-Press, Inc., visit here.

Heidi E. Opinsky Joins Jones Morrison, LLP

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMtAAAAJDVhMzg3YTk3LWJhYjMtNDc2Ny1hZmZjLTY5MjJkZjQ5ODRkZQJones Morrison, LLP is pleased to announce that attorney Heidi E. Opinsky has joined the firm as a Partner. Ms. Opinsky will be practicing out of the firm’s offices in Stamford, CT, Scarsdale, New York and Manhattan. With 30 years experience in family law matters, Ms. Opinsky will focus on counseling New York and Connecticut state residents in resolving their family law, divorce, alimony, child support, domestic violence and property law issues.

“Jones Morrison, LLP has seasoned family law professionals which provides me with a solid platform for my regional practice,” said Ms. Opinsky. “I see the association as a positive step forward in providing excellent legal family law services as a team to clients in an ever-changing and increasingly challenging legal area in the States of Connecticut and New York.”

Prior to joining Jones Morrison, LLP, Ms. Opinsky was a Family Law Partner at Fox Rothschild LLP and McCarter and English, LLP in Connecticut and New York. Ms. Opinsky is admitted to practice in Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia and the U.S. Eastern and Southern District Courts of New York. Ms. Opinsky is a Co-Chair of the Fairfield County Bar Association Women in Law Committee and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee.

She is on the New York State Bar Association Committees on Child Custody and Children and the Law. She is a Connecticut Certified Guardian Ad Litem and serves in the Connecticut Superior Court as a Special Master in Family Law. Ms. Opinsky engages in Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Family Law in the States of Connecticut and New York. She is a Member of various State and Local Bar Associations in Connecticut, New York and the District of Columba. She is a member of BNI Edge, Stamford Chapter, Global Networking. She Chaired her past Firm’s Women’s Initiative Steering Committee. Ms. Opinsky has been frequently quoted in Thomson Reuters, and the Connecticut Law Tribune on family issues. Ms. Opinsky is a frequent speaker at local and State Bar Associations.

Contact Heidi at: (203) 965-7700, Ext. 355, or (914) 472-2300, Ext. 355 or by email at hopinsky@jonesmorrisonlaw.com

It’s Time For Your Annual Legal Checkup

2015 Small Business Jones Morrison Legal Checkup2015 is right around the corner and it’s time for you to schedule your annual legal checkup. Many legal problems that clients encounter can be prevented or minimized by meeting with your attorney yearly to review your insurance coverage, business maintenance, estate planning, retirement planning or investments. The costs of legal checkups can more than pay for themselves, whether it is an analysis of your business or personal matters, or both.

Most small and mid-size businesses do not adopt thorough preventative measures via a yearly legal health report with their attorney – despite not typically having in-house counsel.  The inevitable changes in your business can be planned for, whether they are due to economic shifts, growth of the business, regulatory changes or a change in a business owner’s circumstances.

A legal checkup includes a review of the records and practices of your business, including

  • Loan Agreements
  • Employment Agreements
  • Employee Handbooks
  • Licenses & Permits
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Corporate Charter
  • Operating Agreements
  • Individual’s Business Risk
  • Financial & Tax Matters
  • Expansion Plans
  • Possible Litigation Issues
  • Insurance, Liability & Indemnity
  • Real Estate & Property Matters

While larger businesses are more likely to need a more thorough review, sole proprietors are just as likely to come up against legal road blocks and have more difficulties managing them both financially and concurrently with the demands of their business.

Long term planning can also be a tool that helps with the growth of your business, not only by making sure it is healthy, but also by putting in place processes that will benefit future growth and expansion.

For some business owners, a legal checkup may also include an analysis of the personal financial risk and implement measures to protect against a failing business or venture.

Just like a yearly medical checkup from your doctor, a legal checkup will monitor your business, put in place protections, and leave you confident in your business for the coming year.

To speak with one of Jones Morrison’s attorneys about scheduling a meeting regarding your business, estate planning, and retirement plans, or personal asset management call us today at (914) 713.9311.

Choosing An Executor for Your Will

last will and testament

An executor helps distribute assets to heirs and manages affairs in the event of a death. Picking the wrong executor could lead to delays, issues with taxes, and possibly even contested wills. The right executor will ensure prompt and accurate distribution of all assets without creating any friction amongst family members. If an executor is not chosen, the court will appoint one for the estate.

Duties of an Executor

Depending on any complications that arise, there is a range of duties that the executor is responsible for. The executor should know the scope of responsibilities before they agree to the role. These duties normally include:

  • Finding the assets – and keeping these assets safe until distribution to heirs or creditors. This also includes taking an inventory of everything in the estate.
  • Filing Court papers to start the probate process – this is the process of getting the court to validate the will.
  • Tracking down those named in the will – and making sure the property goes to the correct people.
  • Paying Bills and Debt – funeral costs are often included in the job.
  • Handling the details – cancelling credit cards, informing banks, and notifying government agencies are all important facets of this role.
  • Setting up an Account for the Estate – this not only makes paying off creditors easier, but it is also mandated in some states that the funds are kept separately from their own funds.
  • Ensuring Distribution – all assets will be distributed as laid out in the will, but if there are other assets that were not named, it is up to the executor to distribute it as dictated by state laws.

Who To Choose

An executor can be a person, persons or an institution. Choosing multiple executors ensures one person can be a financial or legal expert, while the other is close to the family. If two people are chosen it is prudent to ensure they will work well together.

Being an executor is not an easy job. Even with the most straightforward of wills, complications can arise. This will make the process of closing the estate lengthy and frustrating for everyone involved, especially the executor.

If a spouse is chosen, a backup executor should also be named. This ensures someone not chosen by the court can represent the estate in case the spouse is not up to the task or is no longer living.

Keeping this in mind, there are three main facets the chosen executor should embody:

  • Financially Responsible
  • Stable
  • Trustworthy

For anyone having a difficult time choosing his or her executor, Jones Morrison Law provides services for advising fiduciaries regarding estate and trust administration, including post-mortem tax advice, preparation of estate, gift and fiduciary income tax returns and, most importantly, the maintenance of harmonious family relations. Contact Jones Morrison today for advice and assistance with the probate and estate settlement process.

 

When a Prenup is in Order

Should I get a prenup in new york state?

 

Prenuptial Agreement: An agreement made by a couple before marriage, usually concerning the ownership of assets should the marriage fail.

 

The Numbers

2009 marked a 40-year low for divorce rates in the United States, a symptom of the economic recession. Since then, rates have increased yearly, highlighting causality between financial stability and the ability to leave the relative security of an unhappy marriage. (source)

Over the past 5 years, 73% of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reported that requests for prenuptial agreements have increased.  (source)

The Conversation

Having the conversation about a prenup is the first step to understanding if your marriage is financially compatible. Many people’s first reaction to having a prenup brought into conversation is that their spouse has no faith in the marriage. The ability to have a practical discussion about future financial security is one indicator of a compatible partnership. This is the ideal time to create plans and goals for future and calculating the path to get there.

I’m Not Wealthy

Prenups are not only to cover existing assets, but also future accumulated wealth. The agreement can cover any number of complications including one spouse being a business owner, one spouse agreeing to stay home to raise children, children from a previous marriage, real estate, and more.

Reasons to Sign

1. Children from a prior marriage – An individual entering a second marriage will often have major financial pre-existing commitments to children and possibly a former spouse.

2. People are marrying late in life after accumulation of assets – With fewer years to work, it is advisable to secure one’s assets against the possibility of a failed marriage and potential financial loss.

3. Did you know? In New York all assets are presumed to be marital and therefore presumed to be divisible in a divorce. In a prenup one can eliminate these presumptions, creating a contract that typically states that certain property shall remain one’s property. The burden of proving that property is separate (in NY property owned prior to the marriage) is eliminated, bringing greater certainty and eliminating potentially costly litigation.

4. Couples can use prenups to affirmatively plan for each other as well.

Who Needs a Prenup?

  • Second marriages
  • Business owners
  • People with assets
  • People with expectation of inheritance
  • Those entering marriage who already have children

Too Late?

No matter how long you’ve been married, a couple can always opt to create a postnuptial agreement. These contracts are usually created to set a household budget, settle financial turmoil in the marriage, or remove a newly acquired asset from any possible divorce proceedings (such as inherited real estate or a business venture.

When it comes to creating an agreement with your future spouse, the earlier you start the discussion, the better. If you are interested in learning more about prenuptial agreements, contact Jones Morrison LLP today at (914) 472-2300.

Our Long-Term Commitment to our Clients

Theresa Strawbridge

Theresa Strawbridge

Our client permanently relocated to Europe and after many years fell out of contact with us.  We had no current contact information.  We learned that substantial unclaimed funds had been identified belonging to her.  We accepted the funds and held them in trust.  For two years Theresa Strawbridge of our staff pursued the task of locating her, even consulting with her country’s consulate.

This month Theresa located a family member in Europe who re-connected us to our client.  Within a few days we were able to wire her money to her.  No charge.  “I thought to myself, I hope someone would do the same thing for me,” said Theresa Strawbridge, office assistant.

Theresa’s caring and diligence is commendable and typical of our long-term commitment to our clients.

We encourage our clients to have regular communication with our firm.  We want to be to provide counsel to you on all aspects of your business and life.  As this case study shows, “Hey, you never know…”.

 

 
CONTACT MANAGING PARTNER
Stephen J. Jones
Direct Dial For All Offices
914.713.9311  
Telephone
914.472.2300