Is it time to consider the future of your assets? If you can understand this question, the answer is probably yes. People often think that estate planning, like writing a will and arranging bequests, is a matter to handle later in life. But we never know when "later in life" may be, and we often give our friends and family some security by recording our preferences.
If you are one of the many divorced or widowed residents in New Jersey who has found love again, you may well be excited to move forward and plan your future with a new partner. However, before you jump into a new marriage too quickly, it is important that you carefully evaluate some of the practicalities involved in intermingling your life with another person. This is especially relevant if one or both of you have children from prior relationships.
Like most in Ocean County, you have probably heard someone joke about their beneficiaries wanting to “do them in” so that they can inherit their money faster. While such a notion might typically be dismissed as only being humorous musings, there have been enough real-world examples of people trying to hasten the deaths of those from who they stand to inherit assets to warrant statutory considerations. We here at Silvi, Fedele & Honschke Attorney’s at Law LLC have been asked in the past by concerned clients what would be the result of one being proven to have killed their benefactor, as concerns that this might actually happen are indeed very real.
Will contests can be a sensitive subject given that that most in Ocean County likely assume that they are simply motivated by your dissatisfaction over your interests in estate. What is lost in this assumption is the fact that there are indeed cases where people exercise undue influence in order to benefit themselves when it comes to an estate plan. Those who come to us here at Silvi, Fedele & Honschke Attorneys at Law LLC typically want to know in such situations how they prove can undue influence. If you share the same question, then it is important that you understand the implications that come with making such an accusation.
As one prepares their estate instruments in Ocean County, one thought that is almost certain to enter into their minds is the potential for their to be discord amongst their beneficiaries. Despite one's best efforts, a person that is party to their estate could conceivably be unhappy with what they are left (or not left) and attempt to challenge the terms of their will. It might be recommended that in order to stop such a challenge from ever happening, one include a no-contest clause in their estate plans.
Among the several important events that occur in the lives of Ocean County residents, two likely stand out from the rest: marriage and death. As odd as it may sound, the two are often inextricably linked, as when one marries, they assume the responsibility of caring for their spouse, and when they die, they have the responsibility of having planned to ensure that the care of their spouse continues. Information shared by the American Psychological Association shows that nearly 90 percent of adults in Western cultures marry. At the same time, 40-50 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. What impact would a divorce have if one has already stipulated in their estate planning documents that their ex-spouse should be listed amongst their beneficiaries?
If you are one of the many people in New Jersey who is preparing to get married for the second or subsequent time, you should take the time now to initiate conversations with your future spouse about how you will each manage your assets after you die. Estate planning can be a hard thing for anyone to talk about but it can be an even more delicate topic in a blended family situation.
In planning for the future, some New Jersey residents set up a trusted friend or relative to be a power of attorney (POA) if the need should arise. In this relationship, the person who set up the POA is the principal, and the POA is the agent who carries out duties on behalf of the principal. Because POAs have wide ranging powers, some people might be nervous about setting up such a position. However, as powerful as POAs are, their powers do have limits.
More and more, people in New Jersey are starting to realize that a will or a trust are not just things that their parents or grandparents need to have in place. Estate planning really is important for all adults including those who are single and have no children. A good estate plan is not just about distributing assets when a person dies but may also include provisions for making health care decisions for a person and for managing their finances if they are not able to.
Given all of the effort and attention that you put into saving assets to pass on to your spouse, children and other heirs, the last thing you want to consider is having any of those funds eaten away by taxes. Yet there are many will tell you that since death and taxes are the only seemingly the only two certainties in your life, such a prospect may seem to be unavoidable. Indeed, many of those who come to see us here at Silvi, Fedele & Honschke for estate planning advice do so already assuming that their estates will be subject to tax. Like them, you may be pleased to hear that may not (and likely will not be) the case.