Millennium Copyright Act: Protective or Restrictive?

Issues in Emerging IT

Government Accountants Hold Annual Meeting

Job Hunters Need to Cast a Wide Net

A Master Surfer’s Favorite Websites

Strong Advice on Dodging Stress

Save Your Estate from Uncle Sam, and Your Kids

Vagelos at Chamber

Donate Please

Corporate Angels

Participate Please

Middlesex Offers Online Application

Raritan Valley to Montclair State

Drivers’ Services Go Online

Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathy Spring was prepared for the October 29, 2003

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
Millennium Copyright Act: Protective or Restrictive?

Jed Horovitz, president of Video Pipeline, a

California-based

company, discusses the restrictive nature of new copyright laws and

his documentary on the subject, "Willful Infringement," in

a free lecture Thursday, October 30, at noon in the Communications

Building of Mercer County Community College.

The documentary focuses on the impact of the recently passed

Millennium

Copyright Act and how it will place restrictions on the creators of

audio and video. It also looks at the restrictions already being

experienced

by individuals and businesses. There will be a question and answer

period following the film.

Video Pipeline creates movie previews and has been in a legal battle

with two Disney-owned movie companies, Buena Vista Home Entertainment

and Miramax Films, over its use of these previews on the Internet.

In August the U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, upheld an injunction

handed down by a lower court that found Disney would suffer

irreparable

harm if Video Pipeline continued to make clips of its films available

to the public through its VideoDetective.com site and to video

retailers

through its Videopipeline.com site.

In its decision, the court wrote that "given the verbatim copying,

lack of ingenuity, and profit-driven purpose of the clip previews,

we have no concern that this case is one in which the creative and

expressive goals of copyright law would be served better by denying

an injunction."

It is likely that Horovitz has a different opinion, and that he will

elaborate during this talk. He holds a master’s degree in film and

television production from New York University and an MBA from the

University of California at Los Angeles. Founder and president of

Video Pipeline, he has worked in film and television for 30 years.

His company was the first to distribute movie previews to the video

retail trade.

Friday, October 31

Top Of Page
Issues in Emerging IT

Ruby Lee, a professor at Princeton University

will deliver a keynote speech at the Emerging Information Technology

conference, set for Friday and Saturday, October 31 and November 1,

at Princeton University’s Friend Center on Olden Avenue.

Focusing on science from Asia and Pacific Rim, the conference has

five tracks — nanotechnology, micro-electromechanical systems

(MEMS), system-on-chip (SoC), bioinformatics, and content, computer,

communications, consumer electronics, and integration (C4I) systems.

This year’s program is being organized by scientists from the

Brookhaven

National Laboratory, Case Western Reserve, IBM T. J. Watson Research

Center, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For information

call 212-752-2340 or go to www.eitc.org.

Top Of Page
Government Accountants Hold Annual Meeting

The Trenton Chapter of the Association of Government

Accountants holds its annual day-long seminar on Friday, October 31,

at 8:30 a.m. at the new Mercer County Conference Center of Mercer

County Community College. The cost is $115. Call Evelyn Richardson

at 609-292-1259 for more information.

David Kaschak, a state auditor, is president of the group. A

graduate of Penn State (Class of 1983), he has been working for the

state since 1984. "Most people who go into auditing in the private

sector don’t stick," he says. But he finds continual challenge

in his work for the state, where two assignments are rarely the same.

During the past two decades he has seen tremendous change in his

profession.

"Technology has had a huge impact," he says. "It’s put

information at our fingertips, instead of rooting through files."

The upcoming seminar reveals the range of interests of the

association’s

200-plus members. Most provocative is a talk by Mark Boyd on

his thesis that county government should be eliminated. Boyd, formerly

commissioner of the Department of Labor, is a Westfield attorney and

head of End County Government Now. The group’s website

(www.endcountygovernmentnow.com)

states that New Jersey pays the highest property taxes per person

in the United States and the second highest property taxes as a

percentage

of income.

"This over reliance on the property tax is a public policy

disaster

for New Jersey because the property tax is a regressive tax, meaning

that poor people pay a higher percentage of their income in property

taxes than the rich," the site states. It goes on to say that

the reason for this situation is that the state has too many units

of local government, specifically, 566 municipalities, 611 school

districts, 21 counties, and hundreds of local authorities and

independent

fire districts, all of which rely on the property tax as their

principal

source of revenue.

Florida, the site declares, has twice the population of New Jersey

and one third fewer municipalities. Maryland has only 25 school

districts,

and Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have eliminated their

county governments. County government in New Jersey, in the

organization’s

view, is an artifact of history that causes public confusion through

redundant service delivery.

New Jersey, says Boyd’s group, should eliminate county government

and take over the delivery of necessary services by dividing itself

into eight administrative districts of 1 million people per district.

Instead of 21 county prosecutors the state could have eight district

attorneys. The state could then cut government expenditures by

eliminating

redundant supervision expenses such as the county board of

freeholders,

administrators, executives, treasurers, and attorneys. This would

be the first step in reducing local property taxes, says End County

Government Now, and could save a taxpayer approximately 20 percent

of his local property tax bill.

Moving from proposals to shared concerns, the seminar schedule

includes

talks on IT security and identity theft by Adel Ebeid, executive

director of technology program development for the New Jersey Motor

Vehicle Commission. Also addressing this issue is Ray Bolling

of New Jersey Business Systems.

David Sweeney of the Department of Environmental Protection

talks about bioterrorism planning and response, Gerald Miller,

a Rutgers professor, addresses trends in local government budgets

and John McCormac, New Jersey Treasurer, talks about the future

of the state’s pension system.

November 3

Top Of Page
Job Hunters Need to Cast a Wide Net

There is good news and bad news for human resources

professionals. Dick Stone, an HR consultant and the founder

of HR networking group Princeton Human Resources Network, reports

that "there are still tremendous lay-offs." But, he adds,

"it doesn’t take any longer to find a job than it ever did."

Stone speaks on "The Human Resource Professional’s Job Search"

at the 12th annual conference of the Garden State Council of the

Society

for Human Resource Management, which takes place Monday and Tuesday,

November 3 and 4, beginning at 7:15 a.m. each day, at the Westin Hotel

in Forrestal Village. Keynotes are by Barbara Lee, dean of the

School of Management and Labor at Rutgers, and by Kenny Moore,

director of human resources for KeySpan Energy. Cost: $350 for the

entire conference, or $275 for each day. Call 732-248-9200, ext. 3307

for more information.

Stone’s talk takes place at 7:15 a.m. on Monday, November 3. It is

one of dozens of workshop sessions. Other topics include "Caging

the Tiger: Controlling Benefits Costs in Inflationary Times,"

"E-mail = Evidence," "The Jobseeker Experience of Your

Company Web Site: Flight or Fright?," "Reducing Violence in

the Workplace," "Using Profiles to Improve Recruiting and

Retention," "So You Think You Want to Be a Consultant?,"

"2003 Employment Law Update," "Best Practices in HR

Metrics,"

"Deconstructing the Performance Management Paradigm," "The

Legal and Practical Implications of America’s Aging Workforce,"

"The Future of Outplacement Services," "Performance

Feedback,"

and "Returning Trust to the Workplace."

Stone, whose consulting company, the Stone Group, is based on Sayre

Drive, grew up in Amsterdam, New York, where his family had run the

Stone Clothing Store for two generations. Stone worked in the store

for one summer, and during every Christmas season. But neither retail

nor small town life were for him. "I wanted to get away,"

he says. A full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania’s

Wharton

School was his ticket. Attending his first college football game,

he marveled to find himself in the stands with three times more people

than lived in his hometown. "This is life!" he recalls

exulting.

After college, Stone joined Equitable Life, now AXA Financial, where

he ran training programs, and rose to become director of personnel.

After 20 years, he moved on, working for architectural and accounting

firms, before going into consulting.

Consulting, Stone declares, is the direction in which human resources

is moving. He, for one, thinks this is a good development. It works

for companies, which can draw upon a professional’s skills when they

are needed, without carrying him on staff. It also works for HR

practitioners,

who get in, do a job, and move on, all the while making a good amount

of money and avoiding most of the snares of office politics.

Stone is now setting up a human resources department for a start-up

that was recently spun off from a big pharmaceutical company. He has

written an affirmative action plan for architectural firm CUH2A, and

done contract recruiting for a number of companies, including Covance

and Novo Nordisk. For Galderman R&D in Cranbury, he says he

"created

and ran a HR department, did some recruiting, and replaced

myself."

A consultant for 25 years, Stone says he likes the project lifestyle.

In 1990, well into his consulting career, Stone founded the Princeton

Human Resources Network, a group where HR professionals who are job

hunting full-time network, pick up search tips, and exchange leads.

His executive committee includes Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispen

of CareerXroads fame, Emily Thorne, Mike Urdanick, and

Don Doele. The group meets at the Nassau Club every 21 days.

"We now have 106 active members and 400 alumni," says Stone.

The group is geared for HR professionals with at least 5 to 10 years

experience. "It doesn’t work well for kids right out of

school,"

he says. People who are employed, but looking around, are not welcome.

These job switchers tend to soak up leads without providing any in

return, Stone has found. He vets potential members, who can reach

him at rstone252@comcast.net.

Largely because of ongoing lay-offs, the group is seeing "10,

15, 20 new members at a meeting," says Stone. Most come from

technology,

including telecommunications, and from manufacturing. A fair number

of members have been cut loose by pharmaceutical companies, where,

Stone says, there is higher turnover than occurs in many other

industries.

A bright spot is that there are not many new members from the finance

industry.

While some HR professionals decide to go into consulting, others want

the stability of a paycheck. This is not an elusive goal, says Stone.

Not for those who put energy into looking in the right places.

"I’ve

seen people get jobs before they even come to their first

meeting,"

he says. Others are landing on their feet in a matter of weeks. Here

is his advice for doing so:

Think small. In a conversation with his brother the other

day, Stone says the two reminisced about their early employer.

"Guess

who we all worked for?" he recounts. "GE in Schenectady."

One brother was in advertising, one in engineering, and one in

recruiting.

All worked for the same company, as did a huge percentage of their

neighbors. It was the same in New Jersey, he points out. "The

biggest change in the nature of jobs," he says, "is that there

is no more AT&T with 385,000 jobs." The mega-employer is gone,

and is unlikely to return. "That isn’t going to happen again,"

he says, "not even in pharma."

Name an industry, and for every big company, there are hundreds, even

thousands, of small companies. "There are hundreds of foreign

banks in New York City," Stone gives as an example.

Job hunters need to widen their scopes to locate employers whose names

are anything but household words. This reality makes the job search

more difficult, Stone admits. But that can’t be helped.

Hustle right along. One of the biggest mistakes job hunters

make, says Stone, is wasting a lot of time in researching a company.

Common wisdom mandates finding out all about a prospective employer’s

products, markets, and missions before walking in for an interview.

Forget it, says Stone. "The company knows what it does," he

says. "It wants to know what you can do."

Scanning annual reports and digging deep into company websites just

eats up precious time.

Contact at least 100 companies a month. "I ask people

how many companies they have contacted," says Stone, "and

they say 13." In his opinion, that is the reason they are still

unemployed. Contact 100 companies, he says, and you will get 10

interviews,

and 1 job offer, "two if you’re really young."

He says this system is infallible. It works for everyone. He has seen

weak candidates, "people I wouldn’t hire," get jobs within

90 days using this wide-net approach.

Of the 106 current members of his job search group, he says "I’ll

bet there aren’t 20 operating at the level." Those who ramp it

up, he says, "absolutely will land a job."

November 4

Top Of Page
A Master Surfer’s Favorite Websites

The Internet can be overwhelming, but it needn’t be.

Jeremy Caplan, a journalist who has written extensively on the

Internet, says most research needs can be met with just a few

bookmarks.

At the same time, he points out that there is always something new

on the Internet. Each day brings a new, potentially amazing, site

or service.

Caplan talks about must-have bookmarks, reveals new wrinkles in old

favorites, and mentions a few favorite new sites when he gives a free

talk, "Savvy Surfing: The Only Sites You Need," on Tuesday,

November 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. Call

609-924-9529

for more information.

Caplan, a New York City resident who maintains a website full of

surfing

tips at www.jeremycaplan.com, is a graduate of Princeton University’s

Woodrow Wilson School (Class of 1997). He spent his first post-college

months playing the violin professionally. He was Concertmaster of

the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra in Germany and the

International

Symphony Orchestra in Jerusalem. A violinist since the age of four,

Caplan was also drawn to writing.

Now an associate editor of Time Magazine for Kids, he wrote a column

for Princeton Alumni Weekly when he was a student, and got his start

in professional journalism under George Plimpton at the Paris Review.

He has written for Newsweek, where his technology reporting led to

a staff job at Yahoo! Internet Life, a now defunct publication that

kept early Internet users up to date on the hippest, most useful

addresses

in cyberspace.

Internet hype has died down, but the medium only becomes more

indispensable.

Caplan logs on every day, and he and his friends in journalism keep

each other au courant on the best new websites. Here are the ones

he consistently finds most helpful:

Refdesk. Caplan inherited a dictionary with his office,

but he never uses it. Neither does he thumb through a thesaurus or

seek information for his articles in a medical or a legal dictionary.

Refdesk has replaced all of these books, and more. "It’s Colin

Powell’s favorite site," he says of the omnibus reference tool.

"There’s a translation tool," he says. "You can translate

from English to other languages." The site also provides headlines

from around the world, people search tools, currency converters, job

banks, world clocks, obituaries, crude oil prices, commodities

futures,

a daily fuel gauge report, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, NOAA weather

warnings, federal toll free numbers, information on how to clean

anything,

zip code finders, college rankings, phone rates, a genealogy search,

Ellis Island records, two airline flight trackers, a weather glossary,

drug information, a perpetual calendar, and a plethora of news-based

jokes. (Letterman: Earlier today, Jack Nicholson announced that he

is addicted to prescription sunglasses.)

Truly, with a refdesk (www.refdesk.com) bookmark, it would

be entirely possible to forego the rest of the Internet.

Tiny URL. Say you need to reference information on one

of the thousands of pages on a big corporation’s website. Chances

are that the address of the page where the information rests will

go on for lines and lines. Try to copy and paste it, and it may break

apart. Try to type it, and there is a good chance you will tear out

your hair and/or make a couple of mistakes.

Caplan has just found a website that cuts those long Internet

addresses

down to size. It’s called TinyURL (http: inyurl.com). It replaces

unwieldy addresses with teeny, tiny addresses that never expire. In

addition to references you want to pass on, TinyURL can be used in

place of your home page address if it is too long for potential

visitors

to easily remember.

Archive. Archive.org is a site that is best known for

its WayBackMachine. It has indexed and stored pages from Internet

sites large and small, still functioning and defunct. It is a way

to find full text news stories by date, and to re-read articles in

websites that no longer exist.

Nationmaster. Statistic junkies, marketers, social policy

researchers, and journalists may wonder how they ever functioned

without

this site. It provides comparative data by country for a host of

categories,

including government, health, labor, language, media, military,

religion,

transportation, and crime. Each large category has many subcategories.

Under crime, for instance, it is possible to find detailed statistics

for bribery, car theft, burglary, and for a number of kinds of

assault.

Data can be presented as a table, a graph, or even a pie chart.

We learn, for example, that the country with the greatest longevity

at birth is Andorra, where males are expected to live to be 80.58

years old, and females should make it, on average, to 86.58. The

United

States comes in at number 43 for males (74.55 years) and 45th for

females (80.0). As for female decision makers, the United States comes

in first, with 45 percent of all decision makers wearing skirts, at

least in theory. Sri Lanka trails in this category, drawing only 4

percent of its decision makers from the fairer sex.

At the end of each table, NationMaster (www.nationmaster.com) cites

it sources, and, if necessary, explains how it came up with the stats.

For decision makers, it reveals that it drew the numbers from a tally

of legislators, senior officials, and managers.

This site has only been around since June, and promises that "big

things" are on the way.

Idealist. While a site like Refdesk contains just about

everything, a boutique site may be a better choice for homing in on

one area. One of Caplan’s new favorites, www.idealist.org, aggregates

articles on social issues. On a recent afternoon, it had posted

stories

on adoption, AIDS, feral cats, health care, housing for artists,

global

warming, and nutrition in poor countries on its home page. Its sources

are everything from national magazines to small town newspapers.

The site also lists employment and contract work opportunities for

non-profits, upcoming non-profit job fairs, and internship and

volunteer

opportunities.

Public Agenda. Caplan likes this site, found at

www.publicagenda.org,

because "it gives all perspectives." Avoiding over-heated

rhetoric, the site attempts to give a balanced picture of the major

issues occupying both policy makers and the public. Included are

abortion,

America’s global rule, campaign finance, child care, crime, gay

rights,

immigration, race, the right to die, and Social Security.

For each issue, the site gives an overview, a digest of recent

stories,

three perspectives, links to facts, findings, and perspectives, a

list of important players and their contact information, people’s

chief concerns, major proposals, areas of public consensus and

demographic

division, cautionary notes about survey findings, and a rundown on

how the site’s editors choose public opinion findings.

Google. By now, Google is a must-bookmark for anyone with

a keyboard. But Caplan points out sections of the master-search site

that many surfers miss. One is its catalog of images. Simply click

on the work "images" above the Google logo and type in the

name of a person, place, or thing. The result is page after page of

pictures. Often, links to more information are included.

Another Google progeny is Froogle. A comparison shopping engine, it

is found at www.froogle.com Still another Google sub-site is Google

News. It can be accessed from Google’s main page. Just click on the

"news" tab. Google News lists the top news stories in real

time, providing links to nearly every news outlet in which they

appear.

It also lets users know how many papers currently have a story about

Kobe Bryant or the latest Iraq casualties or the progress Roy Hunt

is making after being attacked by a tiger. The numbers in themselves

are a snapshot of the culture. For example, you could see that at

one point there were 2,467 recent articles about Kobe’s trial and

345 about an Israeli/Palestinian dust up.

Each article is given an age notation — 20 minutes ago, 14 hours

old, 22 hours old, and so forth.

The articles, in full text, come from news outlets around the world.

In addition to the big stories, there are sections for leading stories

in a number of categories, including the arts, science, business,

sports, health, and technology.

For Internet trends, which tend to closely mirror trends on dry land,

Google has Google Zeitgeist. Found at www.google.com/press/zeitgeist

or simply by typing the words "Google Zeitgeist" into the

search engine, the site lists top searches for the preceding week

and month overall and by category. For the week ending October 13,

the California recall claimed the top spot, with Kobe at number 3,

right behind Arnold. Napster was at number 6, Uma Thurman at 8, and

Christopher Columbus at 10.

Zeitgeist not only tracks hits in the U.S., but also lists top queries

from other countries. Eminem came in 9th in France and 1st in the

Netherlands, but did not show up in a list of popular subjects in

Italy, Germany, or Canada.

One more Google find Caplan reveals is Google Answers at

www.google.com/answers.

Users type in detailed questions, and send them off to Google’s 500

certified researchers. Prices for the responses begin at $2.25. Many

are answered for under $10, but prices can go up to $200. The person

posing the question states what he is willing to pay. In its

guidelines,

the site suggests that fairly simple questions, requiring about 30

minutes research, are fairly priced at $10 to $15. Questions that

require four hours of research should fetch more like $200.

There is a list, by subject, of questions that have been answered,

the price they fetched, and how satisfied the questioner was. The

answers appear to be sophisticated. In addition to the reply, most

researchers provide extensive citations and a number of links to

further

information.

Caplan says he uses the service to save time, and has been most

satisfied

both with the quality of the answers and with the speed of the

replies,

which can range from a few minutes to the better part of a day.

Actively adding to his bookmarks, Caplan says "Even people

who use the Internet a lot are constantly surprised by what is out

there."

Top Of Page
Strong Advice on Dodging Stress

Industry loses more than $3 billion a year in

productivity

due to stress. This according to Eileen Strong, a forensic

hypnotist

and professional speaker whose subject often is how to reduce stress.

Strong, whose business, Strong Incentives, is located in Neptune,

speaks on "The Six Facts of Life that Keep You Balanced and

Happy"

on Tuesday, November 4, at 6 p.m. at a meeting of the Central Jersey

Women’s Network at the Wyndam Hotel in Mount Laurel. Cost: $35. Call

908-281-9234.

Strong is no stranger to stress. She recalls the days when her husband

was traveling internationally "non-stop" as part of his job

as a pharmaceutical rep, she was covering a 30-state territory as

a marketer for Sperry Hutchinson, and her daughter was in day care.

She recalls her life as a blur of dashes for the Turnpike, hunts for

parking spots, forages for someone to look after her child, and

frantic

phone calls with her husband to find out whether his in-coming flight

would put him anywhere near their child’s caregiver’s house.

The scramble spelled the end of a 20-year career in advertising and

marketing. Strong, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, had

been a model and then a flight attendant before beginning a career

in advertising at agencies in Chicago. It was there that she met her

husband, Bill Thonack. Early on, he revealed that he was from New

Jersey. "That just about ended the relationship," Strong says.

But he persevered, and the two settled in New Jersey, where Strong

and her team developed Sperry & Hutchinsons’ S&H greenpoints swipe

card promotion — a sort of Green Stamps, Part 2.

Strong took three years off after leaving her S&H greenpoints gig,

and studied hypnosis, becoming, she says, one of only a few forensic

hypnotists in the state. She has a second business, Jersey Shore

Hypnosis,

also based in Neptune, that works with police departments, including

those in Middletown, Lakewood, and Monmouth on plumbing the

subconscious

of crime witnesses.

Strong, the mother of 19-year-old Kristin, an opera major at the

College

of New Jersey, and 15-year-old Grant, has reduced the stress in her

life, but sees effects of the modern malady as she goes about her

rounds as a speaker.

Pink slip contagion. "For every person who gets a

pink slip," she says, "three other employees are emotionally

and physically affected." These employees may shut down

completely,

peck idly at their keyboards, or call in sick. Many will actually

become sick, suffering from everything from headaches to heart

attacks.

Pantomime overwork. Employees are putting in an extra

seven hours a week, on average, says Strong, but often there is little

extra work to show for the extra time. The added face time, put in

with hopes of avoiding a pink slip, may or may not achieve that

result,

but it almost certainly cuts into valuable time with family and

friends,

and decreases opportunities for exercise.

Out of control workdays. A number of studies have found

that secretaries suffer more from stress than do CEOs, and no wonder.

Control, says Strong, is a crucial element in reducing stress. No

matter what the rank, employees need to gain whatever control over

their work that they can.

"Write down three things that you can realistically accomplish

during the day," urges Strong. "And don’t just say them, write

them down." As each task is completed, check it off. In doing

so, she says, you are making a contract with yourself, in effect,

becoming your own boss. "When you put it in writing, it gives

closure," she says. "It allows you to feel accomplishment.

It is very satisfying. It is a catharsis."

Another way to control a workday is to reduce stimuli. Go to a quiet

place to write a report. Leave the laptop and the cell phone behind

during your lunch break. Close your door.

Multiplying drive-thrus. "We’re the only country with

a glut of drive-thrus," exclaims Strong. "How many people

sit down to dinner with the whole family three times a week?"

The run-run-run culture means that people are not taking care of

themselves.

Ironically, she finds that it is women busy taking care of everyone

else who are the most lax in meeting their own needs.

Reverse course, is her advice. Make time for relaxation, family, and

fitness.

"Keep it positive," says Strong. "Learn to say no,

and realize you don’t have to make friends with everybody." With

boundaries in place, and a life’s full of interests you refuse to

skimp on, chances are that even the most stressed-out workplace won’t

drag you under.

November 5

Top Of Page
Save Your Estate from Uncle Sam, and Your Kids

The federal estate tax, recently skimming up to 49

percent

of assets over $675,000, appeared to be on the way out. But now,

thanks

at least in part to expenses involved in rebuilding Iraq, it may be

poised for a comeback. As part of President Bush’s tax cut package,

explains attorney Valerie Howe, the estate tax exclusion will

rise each year through 2010. But then, in 2011, it returns to where

it was a year ago. The shifts, she says, "make planning

difficult."

Where not too long ago, a couple could make an estate plan and leave

it alone for a decade, relatively sure that nothing would change,

it is now prudent to rebalance assets every two years or so.

A surprisingly large number of people need to be thinking about estate

planning, and many more urgently need to draft wills, living trusts,

and durable power of attorney. There is an understandable impulse

to put off these tasks, given that they signal an acceptance of

mortality,

but doing so can have a devastating effect on the family’s financial

well-being.

Howe talks about must-have documents, and smart estate strategies

when she speaks on "New Jersey Estate Law Changes, Trust Planning,

and Wills" on Wednesday, November 5, at 6:30 p.m. at a free

meeting

sponsored by her firm, Mason, Griffin & Pierson, at the Nassau Club.

Call 609-436-1205 for a reservation.

A Hopewell native, Howe studied psychology at the University of

Virginia

(Class of 1980), and worked as a psychologist for a year before

enrolling

in the law school of George Washington University. She worked as a

prosecutor for four years, but decided that litigation, with its long,

unpredictable hours, was not a good fit with family life. She enjoyed

tax law, and decided to obtain a master’s degree in the specialty

from William and Mary. With Mason, Griffin & Pierson since 1991, and

a partner for five years, she also returned to Hopewell, which

she praises as an excellent place to raise children.

Many of Howe’s clients are in their 50s and 60s, but she says that

after 9/11 she began seeing much younger people. Bouncing along in

good health, people in their 20s and 30s rarely give a thought to

estate planning. Or they didn’t until 9/11 demonstrated just how badly

things could go wrong. Here is her advice on protecting a family’s

stability, at any age:

Draft a will. Many of the young people who died on 9/11

did not have wills, Howe says. While it is a common assumption that

assets pass to the surviving spouse, that is not the case. The first

$50,000 of an estate goes to the spouse, but 50 percent of the

remainder

goes to the children. "Infants inherited millions of dollars,"

says Howe. One of the biggest problems, she points out, is that,

without

a will, these babies will have full control of that money when they

turn 18. Parents worry that the children will not go to college and

will not handle the money wisely.

It doesn’t take a tragedy on the scale of 9/11 to create a situation

few young parents would intend. Howe speaks of a client, a woman in

her 20s, whose young husband was killed in a car accident. His estate

was split between his wife and their baby. In addition to worries

about a teenager gaining control of a substantial amount of money,

the surviving spouse has to worry about paying the bills with only

half of an estate.

These problems can be mitigated if there are beneficiaries, and if

the will sets up a trust mechanism for them. In the case of minor

children, for example, a will can state that money is to be put in

trust, and is to be paid out at a given age. Howe says it is often

a good idea to make the payout gradual, perhaps one-third at 21,

one-third

at 25, and one-third at 35. Or a teen-ager could receive income from

the trust, and gain access to the principal at a later age.

Stick to one executor. Howe’s clients, afraid of hurting

a grown child’s feelings, often want to name all of their children

as executors of their wills. She discourages this, saying that

multiple

executors, and even two executors, complicate the process of settling

the estate. There tend to be differences of opinion, and even in the

best of cases, each of the scores of documents that have to be

reviewed,

signed, and notarized have to be passed back and forth.

"Beneficiaries have significant rights," she points out.

Therefore,

children not named as executors do not have to worry much about being

treated unfairly.

Howe suggests that naming the eldest child can be a good way to go,

as can naming the child who lives closest. Giving such a relatively

objective rationale to the executor’s siblings can ease any feelings

of resentment.

Draw a living will and a durable power of attorney. It’s

a good idea to take care of these chores during the visit to the

attorney

to prepare a will. The first document states wishes in regard to

medical

treatment in case of incapacitation and the second transfers financial

tasks, also in case of incapacitation.

While thinking of the unthinkable, it is a good idea to take the

process

a step further and to factor in the doubly unthinkable. "Provide

an alternate," says Howe. That way, should you and the person

you name be seriously injured in the same accident, there will be

someone else to decide on medical care and to keep signing checks

to the mortgage company.

Calculate the size of your estate. This year, $1 million

of assets are sheltered from federal estate tax. That figure, not

so long ago the mark of extravagant wealth, has descended to a pretty

routine estate figure for many middle class families.

"Remember,"

says Howe, "life insurance is included in the estate." Add

a home, the value of which may have increased 10-fold in the past

three decades, and a lot more people have an interest in sheltering

assets from federal estate tax.

Take assets out of the estate. Estate planning is

complicated,

and tends to be very different for different families, but there are

some general principles. A start could be taking an insurance policy

out of the estate by putting it in a trust. This works well for term

insurance policies, which are pure insurance. It can get more tricky

with whole life policies, Howe points out, because placing them in

an estate puts them off limits. It is no longer possible, for example,

to borrow from a policy once it has been put in a trust.

Separate assets. The federal estate tax exclusion is $1

million for each person, therefore it is generally a good idea to

divide assets between spouses, to keep each, if possible, under that

mark. This is where rebalancing needs to occur for many families.

Next year the exclusion rises to $1.5 million. In 2006, it is $2

million,

and in 2009, $3.5 million. The increases might mean that ownership

of a business or a summer house or a stock portfolio should be

reconsidered.

Set up a trust for the surviving spouse. Tax law permits

a spouse to pass $1 million into a trust for his mate upon his death.

This money typically is used for the mate’s needs after other assets

have been depleted. Upon the death of the surviving spouse it passes,

untaxed, to the other beneficiaries. The tax-free status applies,

Howe explains, even if the money has appreciated significantly in

the meantime.

Don’t forget New Jersey. With the rise in exclusion amounts

at the federal level, states were losing revenue. Some, New Jersey

among them, decided to do something about the situation. So, while

the federal exclusion is now $1 million, and will rise considerably

over the next few years, New Jersey has passed a law under which it

collects 11 to 14 percent of everything over $675,000.

Parcel out the jewelry. Couples tell Howe again and again

how well their adult children get along. Few anticipate problems when

the will is read, but says Howe, "I see the other end." There

are often squabbles after a parent dies, but, surprisingly, they are

most often not over money. The bone of contention? Personal

belongings.

"I had two sisters go to court over photographs," she says.

Cut off the arguments at the pass. New Jersey allows a

listing of bequests of personal belongings in an addendum to a will,

and, says Howe, it is easy to draw one up. No witnesses or notaries

are required. Just name the gifts and their recipients, and date and

sign the list.

Few people like the connotations that attach to "putting

your affairs in order," but a knowledge of the full consequences

of not doing so should be enough to encourage many to schedule an

appointment to plot estate strategy.

November 6

Top Of Page
Vagelos at Chamber

If Governor James E. McGreevey has his way, the state’s

three public research universities will merge. To pay for this

colossal

venture, he proposes to float a $1.5 billion to $2 billion bond

referendum

in 2004. All of this is part of the governor’s overall plan to

position

the state as a research center for the life sciences. P. Roy

Vagelos,

former chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co. and

co-chairman

of two committees working on this merger, speaks about this reform

at the Princeton Chamber on Thursday, November 6, at 11:30 a.m. at

the Doral Forrestal. Cost: $33. Call 609-520-1776.

The plan would consolidate Rutgers University, the University of

Medicine

and Dentistry of New Jersey, and New Jersey Institute of Technology

into a single university system. There would be campuses in Newark,

New Brunswick, and Camden, but one chancellor and one board of regents

in Trenton would be in charge of the 65,000-student system.

McGreevey’s education advisors think that this plan would help the

universities attract more federal research grants, keep students from

leaving the state for their college experience, and help the state

stay competitive as a leader in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

New Jersey is not perceived as being in the upper echelon of the

nation’s

public research universities, say these advisors.

Of the three institutions, only the president of UMDNJ opposes the

plan; he has said he believes his Newark-based institution would not

fare well under the new system. If all goes according to plan, a bond

proposal will be on the ballot next fall, and it will be positioned

as a job-creating tool rather than a reorganization of funding for

higher education.

Top Of Page
Donate Please

The David Sarnoff Library is holding a fundraising

reception after this year’s performance of the War of the Worlds on

Saturday, November 1, at 7 p.m. A Martian Costume Contest at 6 p.m.

precedes the performance.

The reception includes a personal tour of the inventions and

memorabilia

on display at the library. They trace the evolution of radio,

television,

computers, and modern electronics. Tickets are $35. For more

information,

call 609-734-2636.

Every year at this time Betty Brite Cleaners collects,

cleans, and distributes thousands of coats to those in need throughout

our area. The company has distributed over 10,000 coats and other

garments to children and others in need over the past 13 years.

Anyone with a gently worn coat to donate is asked to drop it off at

the company’s facility at 92 North Main Street, Windsor. Betty Brite

will also pick up coats from regular customers and is collecting coats

through many retailers, schools, and professional offices. Look for

the Coats for Kids poster.

Any organization that would like to collect clothing, or help in

distribution,

is asked to call Arthur Weiss of Betty Brite at 609-426-4600.

New Jersey Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral for

Energy Services (NJ Shares) is now collecting donations through

iGive.com to assist people in temporary need with their natural gas

and electric utility bills. Donations are made through funds its

supporters

have raised by doing their everyday online shopping through iGive.com,

an online charity shopping mall. Up to 25 percent of every purchase

is given to NJ Shares at no extra cost to the shopper or to the

organization.

NJ Shares is a statewide non-profit that provides grants to pay the

utility bills of households in need through a network of 50

community-based

social service agencies. For more information call 1-866-NJSHARE or

visit www.njshares.org.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

YMCAs throughout the region will help children Grab

Some Knowledge this Halloween with KFCs new local book solicitation

program. Grab Some Knowledge is an initiative of KFC, the YMCA, and

local communities to help increase early childhood reading skills

and promote a love of literacy.

The book drive, sponsored by the Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern

New Jersey, and Delaware KFC restaurant owners and operators,

has provided bookshelf drop-off displays to more than 50 YMCAs. The

displays include a receptacle that allows the individuals to drop

off books, which will be placed on the shelves, and used as a lending

library. In return, KFC will offer each person who donates a book

a coupon for one free individual popcorn chicken.

The program began on Monday, October 20. For more information, call

Allyson Gross at 610-667-7313.

Brothers Pizza on Route 33 in Hamilton Square twirled

400 free pizzas in a three-hour span to show its support of the

inaugural

Hamilton Half Marathon, which took place on Sunday, October 26. The

race was organized by the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Hamilton Foundation to benefit the Cancer Institute of New Jersey

at Hamilton. Rue Insurance was a sponsor of the event.

Melissa Walker, a cancer survivor and director of the Cancer Care

Program at Hamilton, served as honorary chairperson. She ran her first

half marathon in the fall of 2002, shortly after her 30th birthday,

in celebration of her one-year remission date.

Brothers Pizza served its pies at the finish line.

The American Red Cross of Central New Jersey has joined

with VIDISolutions, America Online, and Hewlett Packard

to offer a video messaging system to military families. The initiative

is called Project Video Connect.

Project Video Connect enables military families to create and send

video messages by installing VIDITalk, a video communication software

application on computers at Red Cross chapters and stations around

the world. VIDITalk lets individuals easily create a high-quality

video and send it to any E-mail address using video and audio

streaming

instead of large file attachments. Service members can open their

E-mail and get up to 10 minutes of video from home, regardless of

where they are.

To schedule a one-hour appointment, military families can call

609-951-8550.

Hours of operation are Monday and Thursday from 5:30 to 8 p.m.,

Tuesday

and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 9 to 11:30

a.m.

Information on other Red Cross outreach services is available at

www.njredcross.org.

Top Of Page
Participate Please

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Prescriptives

division of the Estee Lauder Companies is holding a cocktail

party and silent auction fundraiser at Drumthwacket on Sunday,

November

2. Attendees are asked to donate $150 to benefit the Breast Cancer

Research Foundation.

For more information, call 212-572-4018.

Top Of Page
Middlesex Offers Online Application

Anyone wishing to apply to Middlesex Community College

may do so online. By logging on to www.middlesexcc.edu and following

prompts on the home page, students may submit all the information

needed to process their applications. The $25 application fee may

be charged through Visa, MasterCard, or Discover.

All instructions, prompts, and deadlines for applications appear on

the college home page. There is also a telephone number which students

may use to call a help line for assistance in working through the

process.

Top Of Page
Raritan Valley to Montclair State

Raritan Valley Community College in North Branch has signed a new

transfer agreement with Montclair State University that will make

it easier for RVCC graduates to enroll in the teacher education

certificate

program at Montclair.

The agreement enables RVCC’s Associate of Arts graduates to transfer

into Montclair’s teacher education program with full junior standing.

For more information, contact Janet Thompson at 908-526-1200, ext.

8271.

Top Of Page
Drivers’ Services Go Online

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) has

introduced

two new features on its website (www.njmvc.gov). They are designed

to improve customer service by reducing visits and/or wait times at

MVC agencies.

The first is the option to schedule a road test online. Customers

may now make an appointment for their road test by choosing from three

Driver Testing Centers, one each in north, central, and southern New

Jersey.

The second feature allows customers to request a copy of their own

driving history online. With a few keystrokes, motorists can view

and/or send away for their driving record. There is not additional

fee for requesting the information online.

The MVC plans to add new online services every six months.

Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

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