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.
As you have begun to look into developing an estate plan in New Jersey, you have probably heard about all of the options you have for designating how you would like your assets distributed to your beneficiaries. While you are starting to get some clarification on which route you would like to go, you are interested in knowing if you have the option of gifting some of your assets while you are still living.
Those who see to their estate planning early on in their lives in Ocean County are to be commended. Yet circumstances can change over time, and the wishes and desires of a testator may evolve with them to the point of him or her wanting to completely change his or her earlier will. Yet often times it may not be enough for your family member or friend to simply amend his or her old will; rather, the entire document may need to be completely revoked. The question then becomes how does one do that.
Whenever talk of estate planning comes up in Ocean County, you likely hear the same topic again and again: Avoid probate at all costs! Why is that? Most assume that the probate process will almost always be protracted, which will inevitably result in inordinate expenses paid from the estate's assets that can cut into whatever interest you and others may have in it. Yet the truth is that many estates can actually avoid the probate process altogether (or at least be probated quickly).
Many in Ocean County may find talking about death to be downright depressing. This may explain why so few locally (as well as across the country) have given serious thought to their estate planning. Indeed, information shared by the American Association of Retired Persons shows that only 4 in 10 Americans have a will. Most may believe that estate planning only concerns the elderly (statistics seem to back this up, as AARP's data reveals that 58 percent of baby boomers do have a will compared to only 22 percent of millennials). Yet accidents or illness could claim a life at any time, and if one does happen to die without a will, his or her presumed heirs could end up missing out on the chance to benefit from his or her estate.