James J. Costello Jr., Co-Chair of the firm’s Estate, Trust, and Tax Law Practice Group, focuses his practice on wealth preservation, estate planning and administration, litigation and disputes among beneficiaries, general federal and state tax law and controversies, and the formation, dissolution, purchase, sale, and mergers of all types of closely held business entities.

Jim represents individuals in all aspects of general and sophisticated estate planning. This includes drafting wills, lifetime and testamentary trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, prenuptial and cohabitation agreements, employing sophisticated strategies when warranted matters to preserve family wealth, including family limited liability companies (“LLCs”), dynasty trusts, and charitable trusts.

His representation of fiduciaries includes all aspects of estate and trust administration, including preparation and filing of federal and state estate and income tax returns, representation in IRS and New Jersey Division of Taxation audits, litigation and disputes among beneficiaries, preparation and filing of federal and state estate and inheritance tax returns, and defending those returns on audit.

Jim handles federal and state tax disputes, including collection matters, appeals, and representation in U.S. and New Jersey Tax Courts.

Small business owners look to Jim for assistance not only with the formation, dissolution, purchase, and sale of closely held businesses, but also as a discussion partner concerning strategies in connection with the transition of ownership to younger generations. He also represents individuals and entities in residential and commercial real estate transactions.

Elderly and incapacitated individuals and their families engage Jim for counsel regarding guardianships, asset protection planning including irrevocable trusts and Medicaid spend-downs, as well as preparing and filing Medicaid applications.

Jim has published articles and lectured extensively to civic and professional groups about a variety of estate planning and tax law topics.  He is a former Trustee and Advisory Board Council member of the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, now known as Alzheimer’s New Jersey, a former officer of the Bernardsville Library Foundation, Inc., and former member of the Vestry of the Church of St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville.

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Blog - Guardians of Your Will

Does It Matter if a Trust Is Revocable or Irrevocable? Yes, It Matters a Lot!

Beneficiaries Should Exercise Caution Before Filing a Caveat

Making a Will? Don’t Forget About Funeral Arrangements

Undue Influence Can Unwind Lifetime Gifts

Promised Inheritance? Make Sure It’s in Writing!

No-Contest Clause, No Problem?

When Is a Joint Account Not Really a Joint Account? When It’s for “Convenience Only.”

A Vampire Will?

Beneficiary Rights of Separated Spouses

I was Excluded as a Beneficiary, but Don’t Think it was Intended; am I out of Luck? Maybe Not!

It’s Never Too Late (Sometimes) to Assert Rights as a Beneficiary

Beating the NJ Inheritance Tax as a “Mutually Acknowledged Child”  

Court Grants Beneficiary’s Request to Terminate Trust

I was excluded from the provisions of a Will; might I still inherit?

Inheriting as an “Omitted Child”

Beneficiary Rights and Retirement Plans – Pay Attention to the Details!

The Trustee Of My Parent’s Trust Is Using The Trust Assets As A Personal Piggy Bank. What Can I Do?

New Jersey Inheritance Tax – Beware Gifts “In Contemplation of Death”

How important is it to have an ORIGINAL Will?

Does The Executor Of A Will Have The Right To Make Funeral Arrangements For The Decedent?

I Am A Beneficiary Under A Will But I Have No Idea What Is Going On With The Estate, What Can I Do?

Addressing Portability Of Estate & Gift Tax Exemptions In Premarital Agreements

When Is An Irrevocable Trust Not Really Irrevocable?

Elective Share Update – What Does it Mean to Be Living Separate and Apart or Ceasing to Cohabitate as Man and Wife?

Could I Be the Beneficiary of a “Secret Trust”?

Does Undue Influence Apply To Lifetime Transfers?

What Is A Will?

Can I Be Cut Out Of My Spouse’s Will?

Is My Inheritance Or Gift Subject To Income Tax?

How Do I Contest A Will?

Can I Contest A Will?

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  • Tension Between Site Remediation and Expeditious Estate Administration,” New Jersey Law Journal, March 25, 2020
  • Interviewed, “Nonprofit Best Practices,” Commerce Magazine, December 2014
  • Contributing Author, New Jersey Practice Series, Legal Forms, Third Edition, Chapter 58, “Wills Forms” and Chapter 59, Volume 16B
  • Co-Author, “Creating Dynasty Trusts in New Jersey,” New Jersey Law Journal Estate Planning Supplement, May 2000
  • “A Guide to Disclaimers,” New Jersey Law Journal Estate Planning Supplement, May 1999
  • “Disclaimer Trusts – the Next Best Thing to a Simple Will,” New Jersey Law Journal, December 1998
  • “Dealing With Ethical Concerns in Estate Planning Matters,” New Jersey Bar Association Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section Newsletter, June 1997
  • Contributing Author, “Charitable Remainder Trusts,” Estate Planning Strategist, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, April 1996
  • Contributing Author, “Family Limited Partnerships,” Estate Planning Strategist, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, September 1995
  • “IRS Concession on Minority Interest Discounts Offers Planning Opportunities,” Connecticut Bar Association Estates & Probate Newsletter, June 1994
  • “Dealing with the Marital Residence in Divorce: Tax Issues,” Connecticut Lawyer, October 1993
  • “Probate and Trust Litigation: Real-World Insights for Both Estate Litigators and Planners,” National Business Institute, Princeton, NJ, July 9, 2019
  • “Using Trusts in Estate Planning and Asset Protection,” National Business Institute, Princeton, NJ, November 15-16, 2018
  • “Legal & Financial Planning Basics: Be Prepared!” Insight Private Advisors, Bridgewater, NJ, April 19, 2018
  • “Legal & Financial Planning Basics: Be Prepared!” The Arc Foundation of Somerset County, Bridgewater, NJ, March 29, 2018
  • “The Probate Process from Start to Finish,” National Business Institute, Toms River, NJ, December 20, 2017
  • “The Probate Process from Start to Finish,” National Business Institute, Princeton, NJ, December 19, 2017
  • “Alzheimer’s Disease: Approaches to Case,” Alzheimer’s New Jersey, Pennington, NJ, September 16, 2017
  • “Revocable Living Trusts from Start to Finish,” National Business Institute, Princeton, NJ, November 7, 2016
  • “Estate Administration Procedures: Why Each Step Is Important,” National Business Institute, Princeton, NJ, June 20, 2016
  • “Top Estate Planning Techniques,” National Business Institute, Princeton, NJ, November 9, 2015
  • “Tax Planning for Trusts and Estates,” National Business Institute, Princeton, NJ, December 10, 2014

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