Over the next 25 years, an estimated $68 trillion in assets will be transferred to beneficiaries in New Jersey and throughout the country. If you are going to be leaving assets to your own children or other family members, it is important that you do so in accordance with state law. Otherwise, a will or other estate plan document may be partially or completely invalidated.
Minors cannot be beneficiaries
It is important to know that a minor is not allowed to manage assets on his or her own. In most cases, a minor is considered to be a person under the age of 18, but some states have set the age of majority at 21. Instead, the asset must be held in a trust or placed in the care of an individual designated in your will to manage it on a child’s behalf. If you fail to designate a guardian, a judge will do so after you pass.
Make sure assets actually get into a trust
A trust must be properly funded for it to be valid. Funding a trust means that you title a home or car in its name or designate the trust as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Assets that remain in your estate cannot be managed by a trustee and will likely be subject to probate.
Ideally, you will begin the estate planning process as soon as you become a legal adult. This is generally a good idea even if you don’t have children or any significant assets to pass down to beneficiaries. If you do have an estate plan in place, it is a good idea to review it on a regular basis. An attorney may assist in the process of inspecting a will, trust or other plan documents.