How Important Is Diversifying Your Investments?

We consistently counsel our clients about the importance of diversification when we structure a portfolio in an attempt to lessen market risk. Market risk is the risk that the value of an investment will decrease due to market factors.

It goes without saying that if the stock or bond market declines, your stock or bond holdings will typically lose value, too. One way to reduce market risk is to diversify your investments. Continue reading “How Important Is Diversifying Your Investments?”

Taxes: Keeping Track of Your Donations

Multiple contributions. If you make multiple contributions of less than $250 to the same charity during the year, you generally should treat each contribution separately in determining the amount of the contribution and the supporting records you should have.

Donations of clothing and household items. To be deductible, these donations must be in “good used” condition or better unless you are claiming a deduction of over $500 and include a qualified appraisal of the item with your return. If you can’t get a receipt from the charity because you left items at a charity’s unattended drop site, note the charity’s name, the contribution date, and a description of the items you donated and keep it on file. Also note the donated items’ fair market values and how you determined the values. Continue reading “Taxes: Keeping Track of Your Donations”

What is the Sandwich Generation?



More and more we read and hear about the “Sandwich Generation”. Many of you are asking what is this so-called “Sandwich Generation”? No, it’s not the generation that grew up carrying PB & J sandwiches to school in their lunchbox.

Sandwich Generation is a term used to identify those individuals who are sandwiched between raising children and having to care for a beloved elderly family member who may require physical, emotional or financial support. Not only is this individual sandwiched between generations but also has a job that requires their undivided attention. As you can imagine time constraints plus separation by distance to this elderly relative equals a recipe for a tremendously stressful situation. You can only do so much!

This month we proudly launched a TV commercial focusing on the sandwich generation and our services featuring our new spokesperson, Rich Gannon former NFL Quarterback and Most Valuable Player.

Before we began the actual filming of the commercial in Philadelphia I took the opportunity to chat with Rich about Garden State Trust Company and our team. Almost immediately our conversation focused on how we personally know people sandwiched between caring for different generations and the strain they are under.

Rich also wanted to know more about our trust, investment and estate services. I shared with him how our trust services have provided peace of mind for our clients and their immediate families. Because, even separated by distance they have the Garden State Trust Company team to “lean on” for their financial needs as well as lifestyle planning.

Please access our new Television Commercial featuring former NFL Quarterback and MVP, Rich Gannon by clicking here.

With best wishes,


Wills: Don’t DIY

Oftentimes people, for whatever reason, decide that they will plan their estates based upon what they hear from a neighbor, read in a newspaper or see on television. In our years of helping people properly plan their estates, we have encountered disastrous examples of “do-it-yourself” estate planning as well as Will drafting. Fortunately many of these disastrous plans were remedied before they went into effect.  Unfortunately, other times the individual died and the plan was cast in concrete.  Let me share one example from years ago of good intentions by a “do-it-yourselfer” that went awry. Continue reading “Wills: Don’t DIY”

Estate Plans for Special Needs

An article in the Wall Street Journal states the importance of building an Estate Plan for those with special needs. The Valentine family’s 14-year-old son Gabe has epilepsy and Asperger’s, and so the family created a Special Needs Trust to ensure that he is taken care of when they are no longer able.  Due to the need of many parents to care for their special needs children, a growing number of financial services companies are designating themselves as “special needs planners” and helping families find ways to provide for their children. Continue reading “Estate Plans for Special Needs”

Garden State Trust Company – Truly Spanning Generations!


Back row from left: Siobhan Connolly; Mary Gonzalez; Adam Brower; Karen Spanover; Sean Rice
Front row from left: Susan Cox; Ira Brower; Barbara Kannheiser

For many years we have worked very hard to create a feeling of “family” while providing our trust and investment services to our clients. Many of our clients have been with us for over 25 years. Some more than that! When we chose our tag line “Spanning Generations” we looked at our clients and realized our services have been spanning generations. Today we are providing our services for many of the children and in some cases the nieces and nephews of our clients.We truly are a family! We reminisce and share stories about how their parents came to us and how we followed their growth through the beaming eyes of their parents. We have shared many laughs and some sadness as their parents aged and are no longer with them. “Spanning Generations” is not just a tagline, it’s who we are.

This tagline is not exclusive to our clients either. Now my son, Adam, has joined Garden State Trust Company and even as a company we are spanning generations. We thought it was time to share with you a picture of our growing team that prides itself on providing that “family” feeling.

Best Wishes,


Moving with a Will- What Changes Will You Need to Make?

If your Will was properly executed and witnessed, you have no problem. However, you must realize that your Will must be probated in the County in which you die a resident. Assuming your will does not contain a Self Proving Affidavit one of two things must happen: the out-of-state witness must appear personally before the Surrogate of the county where you were a resident or your Will must be forwarded to a Probate Court near where the witness resides. In either event, the cost of probating the Will is significantly increased. A Self-Proving affidavit in a Will is established by having the signatures of the witnesses notarized at the time of the signing of the Will. Upon presentation of the Will for Probate, as the signatures of the witnesses have been notarized, there is no reason to have them, the witnesses, appear for Probate purposes. Probably the easiest remedy would be to have new wills prepared. Since moving to another state, there may have been life changing events to your beneficiaries such as divorce, a serious illness, a new birth, etc. which is cause enough to review and make changes in your Will. Continue reading “Moving with a Will- What Changes Will You Need to Make?”

How Joint Bank Accounts Can Override Your Will

ladiesA Will can only distribute assets that are in the sole name of the deceased. For example, jointly held assets (your bank accounts), assets payable on death to a named beneficiary cannot be distributed by a will.

The registration of the assets dictates how the assets are to be distributed upon death. Using the registration of assets to distribute your estate oftentimes contradicts the intended distribution in your will. Continue reading “How Joint Bank Accounts Can Override Your Will”