The simple answer is that yes, you can create your own will. The better question is this: should you do so? The sad reality is that many self-created wills are judged invalid every year. Your Last Will is a legally enforceable document that must be executed in accordance with statutory requirements if it is to be enforced. That can require at least some level of legal expertise of the sort that you can only get from a competent estate planning attorney. The experts at the Augulis Law Firm can … [Read more...] about Can I Create My Own Will?
As you probably know, New Jersey is one of six U.S. states that imposes an inheritance tax on estate beneficiaries. Like other states, however, that tax does not apply equally to all classes of beneficiaries. In fact, there is one class that is not subject to any sort of inheritance tax levy at all. That so-called “Class A” beneficiary group includes the deceased’s spouse, parents, grandparents, children (including adopted children), and any children or stepchildren that have been publicly … [Read more...] about Does Everyone Have to Pay the Inheritance Tax?
You’ve probably seen advertisements or articles suggesting that a living trust can reduce your taxes. This claim is often made about revocable trusts – but it’s not true. The fact is that a revocable trust provides zero benefits where taxation is concerned. It won’t reduce your taxable income or shield wealth from the estate tax. The reason why is simple: legally, that money never really leaves your control while you’re alive, since you can revoke the trust and reclaim the assets any time you … [Read more...] about Can A Revocable Trust Reduce My Taxes?
Trusts are wonderful tools that can accomplish many important estate planning goals. They can help your estate to avoid probate, may ensure that your heirs receive a larger share of your estate, and can deal with a variety of special situations. They may or may not benefit you, depending upon your unique circumstances. It is important to note, however, that the use of trusts in the estate planning process has grown in popularity in recent years, largely because trusts have evolved to meet a … [Read more...] about Do I Need a Trust?
Each year, there are many people around New Jersey and throughout the United States who die without a will. That shouldn’t come as a surprise since most estimates suggest that more than half of us lack such basic estate planning. So, what happens to your estate if you die without a plan? Well, the Surrogate will appoint a personal representative to take care of the probate process, and most things proceed just as they would with a will – until it comes time to distribute your assets. At that … [Read more...] about What Happens if I Die Without a Will?
The fact that you’re asking this question should be an indication that you need some sort of plan. Let’s face it; at some point, we all die. If you passed away tomorrow, what are the odds that you would die with all your debts paid, and your heirs’ inheritances already in their possession? That never happens, right? The reality is that we all need a way to have our affairs settled when we die, and your estate plan is the best way to ensure that they are settled in the manner you prefer. Of … [Read more...] about How Do I Know Whether I Need an Estate Plan?
This is another term that’s been passed down to us from a time when there was a difference between the will and the testament. Back then, the term “will” was used to designate how real property was to be disposed of, while “testament” referred to the decedent’s instructions regarding the distribution of personal effects. Though we still sometimes use the term Last Will and Testament, the will now encompasses real property and personal effects. You could just refer to it as the Last Will and be … [Read more...] about Where Does the Term ‘Last Will and Testament’ Come From?
That question gets asked quite a bit, especially from people who’ve come from other states. While many other states assign their probate concerns to Superior Courts, County Courts, and other courts, we have a different name for that entity here in New Jersey. Here, the person responsible for proving wills and assigning executors (personal representatives) to settle estates is known as the Surrogate. There’s a Surrogate Court in each New Jersey County, and he or she serves as that court’s judge … [Read more...] about What Is the Surrogate in New Jersey Probate?
Yes. If you’re part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community, a Living Trust offers protection for your estate, as well. It will completely eliminate a living probate, a death probate, and you can minimize or eliminate estate taxes. Further, it allows you to override the laws that may fail to recognize the importance of your relationship. … [Read more...] about Is a Living Trust a good idea for a LGBTQ person?
Yes. The default in state law, called “intestacy,” is designed with married couples in mind. If a married couple dies without any estate plan, the survivor will get a good portion of the assets left behind. However, if you are unmarried, unless you are in a state that legally recognizes domestic partnerships or civil unions and you have registered as such, the survivor would get nothing. Instead, the family of origin of the unmarried partner who died would get anything in that partner’s name, … [Read more...] about Do unmarried couples have to plan more than married couples do?