Many may believe that estate planning is simply drafting a Will to distribute assets after you are gone, but there is more involved. Estate planning can help you preserve a child’s inheritance, make bequests to specific individuals, donate to charity, transfer business interests, and much more. Multiple estate planning documents may be involved, including a Will, durable power of attorney, living trusts, and an advanced health care directive.
Drafting a Will
A Will is often the most important document in a person’s basic estate plan. In addition to outlining the people and organizations you wish to leave your property to, you may also utilize a Will for purposes of naming a guardian to care for your minor children, an executor, and a trusted person to manage the property you may leave to your minor children.
In New Jersey, any individual who is at least eighteen (18) years old and is of sound mind may make a Will. For a Will to be valid, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 3B:3-2, it must be in writing, signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and at the testator’s directions, and witnessed by at least two individuals, each of whom must sign within a reasonable time after execution of the Will by the testator.
If a person dies without a will, the state laws of intestacy shall determine who receives the individual’s assets. Everyone’s situation is unique, so it is crucial to plan ahead and create a Will and estate plan to ensure that your wishes are met once you are gone.
Living Trusts in New Jersey
By creating a living trust, you place ownership of your assets into a trust, which technically you own. You may maintain control over the assets during your lifetime and may have a successor trustee named to step in after your death to continue managing the assets and distribute them according to your written instructions. One of the significant benefits of creating a trust is that it allows you to avoid probate, allowing your assets to be dispersed quicker and with fewer additional fees.
Individuals often overlook the fact that there are tax consequences attached to the gifts they make during their lifetime or at the time of their death. It is important to keep in mind federal and state inheritance and estate tax laws when creating an estate plan.
Choosing an Attorney
Estate planning is complicated and it involves various components and documents. It is essential to have a highly knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney guide you through the process. George Christopoulos has been assisting clients with probate and estate administrations for many years and will help provide you with the peace of mind that your final wishes will be cared for. Please call the Law Offices of George Christopoulos, P.C. at (201) 488-1825 to get started.