Wills, Trusts & Elder Law
“Intestacy” is the legal term for those who die without leaving a Will in New Jersey. With no written documentation of how (and to whom) you wished to leave your property, the State of New Jersey will make those decisions on your behalf through the “intestate succession” laws contained in Title 3B of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated.
Naturally, the State of New Jersey’s rules for distribution of your property probably differ quite a bit from what you’d have wanted. Having a Will allows YOU to make these important decisions now, rather than having the State make these decisions for you after your death. A Will also eases the burden on your surviving family members, who may not have known of your wishes if you die without a Will.
While New Jersey will under certain circumstances allow handwritten Wills to be probated, strict rules and legal technicalities apply. “Do it yourself” will forms from stationary stores or the Internet may contain flaws or errors, such as lack of proper witnesses, missing pages, etc. These forms are rarely state-specific, and may not comply with New Jersey’s probate rules & laws.
Our office can discuss your estate planning needs & concerns, plan for your heirs, and customize an estate plan which will:
● Name the guardian(s) of your minor children,
● Name the Executor of your Will (who is the person nominated to administer your Estate upon your passing),
● Planning to reduce your estate tax liabilities (New Jersey imposes its own Estate Tax on estates over $675,000, Federal rates begin at estates over 5 million);
● Draft an Advance Directive for Health Care which sets forth when/if you want artificial life support to cease (i.e, in the event of brain death or permanent coma);
● Draft Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, which would allow named family members to conduct banking, sell property, and engage in financial transactions (sell stocks/bonds, etc) if you were incapacitated;
● Draft credit shelter, Q-Tip, or S.L.A.T. trust(s) to minimize tax liabilities for you and your heirs;
● Generation-skipping transfer (G.S.T.) tax planning with generation-skipping trusts (for large estates);
● Medicaid planning (including the updated Medicaid “look-back” periods), and long-term (nursing home care) planning;
● Special needs estate plans for Civil Union couples;
● Planning/special directive trusts for family members with chronic alcohol or substance abuse issues.