It is easy to find just about any DIY legal form you might need on the internet. As such, you might see an opportunity to save time and money by using one of these forms; however, in reality you are more likely to cost your loved ones a considerable amount of unnecessary time and money when it comes time to probate your estate if you forego the advice and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney. DIY estate planning forms are notorious for having mistakes, errors, and omissions that … [Read more...] about Do I need an estate planning lawyer to create a Will or trust or can I use a DIY form?
Wills and Trusts
This is something that can truly only be decided after consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney; however, there are some common considerations when deciding whether a Will or a trust should be used. If your estate is small enough to qualify for small estate administration, and you do not have minor children (nor plan to have any in the near future), a Will should suffice. If, however, your estate is large enough that probate avoidance is a consideration and/or you do have minor … [Read more...] about Should I use a Will or a trust to distribute my estate assets?
At the time of your death, you will leave behind an estate that consists of all assets owned by you, or in which you had an ownership interest, at the time of your death. Those assets must now be transferred to new owners; however, before that can occur a number of other steps must take place first during the legal process known as probate. Among the most common of those steps are: Authenticating the decedent’s Last Will and Testament if applicable. Identifying, locating, and valuing … [Read more...] about What happens during the probate process?
The duties and responsibilities of a Trustee can be wide ranging and will differ from one trust to another; however, there are some common duties and responsibilities most Trustees have, including: Following all trust terms unless they are illegal or unconscionable. Communicating with beneficiaries. Investing trust assets using the “prudent investor” standard. Managing trust assets. Distributing trust assets. Keeping trust records. Preparing and filing trust taxes. … [Read more...] about What are the duties and responsibilities of a Trustee?
In its most basic, a trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust is created by a Settlor, also referred to as a Grantor or Maker, who transfers property to a Trustee. The Trustee holds that property for the trust's beneficiaries. The beneficiaries may be current and/or future beneficiaries. Although you never have thought about it, you likely enter into trust agreements on a regular basis. Imagine, for example, that you are moving out of the … [Read more...] about What is a trust?
If you do leave behind a valid Will you are said to have died “testate.” If you fail to leave behind a valid Will you will leave behind an “intestate” estate. If you die intestate, the State of New Jersey (or your state of residence at the time of your death) decides how your estate assets are distributed using the state’s intestate succession laws. Usually, this means that only close relatives will inherit from your estate. … [Read more...] about What happens if I die without a Will in place?
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that is used to express an individual’s wishes with regard to his/her estate assets and what should be done with them upon the Testator’s (creator of the Will) death. Gifts made in a Will may be general or specific and may be made to as many different beneficiaries as the Testator wishes. Along with serving as a vehicle for making gifts of estate assets, a Will is the only opportunity the parent of a minor child has to indicate who the parent would … [Read more...] about What is a Last Will and Testament and what can I accomplish with one?
People offer all sorts of explanations for why they have yet to create even the most basic estate plan. The simple truth is that every adult can benefit from having an estate plan in place, without regard to age, marital status, or net worth. At a bare minimum, executing a Will ensures that the State of New Jersey (or your state of residence at the time of death) will not determine what happens to your estate assets in the event of your death. … [Read more...] about Don’t I need to wait until I’m married and/or have acquired significant assets before I need a Will?