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Last week when we recapped Gov. Chris Christie’s state of the state address, we referred to his promise to pursue abolishment of the estate and inheritance taxes. In the two weeks since that speech, the governor made some progress, by signing into law two measures from last legislative session that make the settling of smaller value estates easier and less costly.

The first, Senate Bill 2251/Assembly Bill 3708, affects estates valued at $50,000 or less, up from $20,000, where the decedent died without a will. Under these circumstances, the legislation provides that the entire estate can transfer to a surviving spouse or domestic partner without administration. The language also requires the filing of an affidavit by the survivor, attesting to his or her relationship to the decedent, the estate’s value, the decedent’s residence at his death, and the nature, location and value of the decedent’s assets.

Another, Senate Bill 2110/Assembly Bill 3343, requires nursing homes to maintain a complete record of all funds, personal property and possessions of a nursing home resident from any source whatsoever, which have been deposited for safekeeping with the nursing home for use by the resident, and to provide the resident with a quarterly accounting of the account.

In addition, this legislation requires nursing homes to offer incoming residents the opportunity to designate a beneficiary of their personal needs allowance accounts. When the resident dies with an account containing less than $1,ooo, the amount can transfer to the pre-designated beneficiary without probate or administration.

The governor’s office issued a press release detailing the above legislation and other enacted or signed legislation, including:

  • S-2880/A-4704: Provides up to $25 million in tax credits under the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Program for certain infrastructure at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
  • A-2935/S-1325: Authorizes property tax deferment for deployed military personnel.
Beyond these, such press release also notes several pieces of legislation that were vetoed by Gov. Christie by leaving them unsigned until it became too late for further action by lawmakers:
  • S-602/A-3254: Would have raised the minimum age for purchase and sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21.
  • S-726, 1257/ A-1405: Would have established an innovation zone program to stimulate technology industry clusters around New Jersey’s research institutions, and allowed certain technology businesses located in certain innovation zones to receive certain tax credits under the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program.
  • A-4772/S-3169: Would have permitted counties to impose a 1 percent hotel tax.

The press release provides the status of numerous other bills covering a wide variety of subjects.

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