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New Jersey Estate Planning Blog

Single parents can benefit from even a simple estate plan

  • 24
  • January
    2015

Parents typically have just about anything but free time on their hands. This may be even more true for single parents in New Jersey. While it's understandable that some single parents feel as though they don't have a spare second to consider what might occur should anything happen to them, it's actually critically important that they give this considerable thought. When an individual is the only parent a child knows, even a simple estate plan can help protect his or her future.

Perhaps the most simple document that a parent can execute is a will. With a will, an estate will be distributed according to the terms outlined within the document. Without a will, who gets what will be up to the state, and it's possible that a child may not come out on top. Within a will, a parent can also name a legal guardian for a child in the event that the worst should happen. This person can be different than the one chosen to handle a child's inheritance.

Navigate Medicaid planning with help from a legal professional

  • 22
  • January
    2015

Medicaid planning is a complex process. Many New Jersey residents do not understand how to qualify or what they should do while Medicaid planning in order to secure the assistance they deserve. Legislation passed in recent years now makes it more important than ever to closely adhere to applicable laws and regulations. Violation of Medicaid laws can result in steep penalties, but our lawyers are here to protect clients from this possibility. 

In the past, a person may have been able to receive Medicaid benefits by simply transferring assets to family members. It is now no longer possible to do this, but there are lawful ways to retain or transfer assets. The laws regulating the transfer of assets are complex and confusing, but our ongoing experience with the system serves as an advantage to our clients. 

Three keys to a solid estate planning package

  • 17
  • January
    2015

When considering the best way to construct one's estate plan, many in New Jersey are unsure of where to start. Estate planning is a highly personal matter, but there are certain elements that can benefit virtually everyone. Among these are a basic will and two different types of power of attorney documents.

A will is a great place to begin. This is where an individual lays out the full range of his or her assets, as well as to whom those assets are to be given. Within one's will, an executor is also named, who will be tasked with carrying out the provisions outlined within. A basic will can also name a parent or family's chosen guardians for their children, so that the transfer of those responsibilities can be eased in what could be a very difficult time.

How does Facebook factor into estate planning?

  • 15
  • January
    2015

New Jersey residents who are beginning the process of planning their estate often work with a series of lists. These may include lists of assets, lists of heirs and lists of the documents required to put their wishes into a cohesive estate planning solution. Often absent from those lists are details about social media accounts, which, in our digital age, is a topic that deserves attention.

Take, for example, an individual's Facebook page. While many people look at social media as a valuable tool for recreation and relaxation, the files and information stored on such sites are actually a type of asset. As such, social media plays a role within estate planning.

Including faith within one's estate planning

  • 09
  • January
    2015

Many New Jersey residents hold their religious beliefs as one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives. Faith plays a major role within many families, and shapes the choices that are made throughout the lives of individual family members. When it comes to estate planning, however, many people fail to include their faith within their overall plan.

There are a number of ways that religion can be incorporated into various estate planning matters. For individuals who hold strong religious beliefs concerning how their body is to be processed after death, those wishes must be clearly defined. This can be accomplished by drafting a document that outlines exactly which steps are to be taken, and how one wishes to have his or her final remains handled.

Farms often require a complex estate plan

  • 07
  • January
    2015

When parents have built a business and raised a family under the umbrella of that enterprise, they often expect that their children will want to follow in their footsteps. This, however, is often not a dream that becomes realized, as adult children tend to have their own ideas about how to chart their course within the world. For farm families in New Jersey, this can be especially true, as choosing an agrarian life is not something that everyone desires or is equipped to handle. When considering how to pass along an asset as complicated as a family farm, a complex estate plan is often required.

The first, and often the most difficult, step is determining which family members will be included as heirs. In cases in which none of the children or grandchildren have an interest in running the farm, this process may be simplified. However, if one or more heirs would like to keep the farm up and running, things become far more complicated. It is possible to construct a plan that allows one or more heirs to retain ownership of the farm, while the others receive either a greater share of other assets or the right to have their shares of the farm "bought out" by the retaining heirs.

Sibling rivalry to be anticipated during estate planning

  • 04
  • January
    2015

Some level of sibling rivalry exists in most families. New Jersey readers may identify with one sibling believing that the brother or sister always received more attention, more money and nicer clothes. Such feelings can resurface upon a parent's death, and it is not uncommon for one sibling to contest a will that leaves more to the other sibling. In many cases, the "favored" child is appointed as the administrator or executor of the estate. Sometimes, parents fail to keep sibling rivalry in mind during their estate planning.

If one sibling decides to sue, the other or others will receive a summons, and the process of probate litigation is initiated. This is naturally not something the average person is faced with regularly, and one may be uncertain about how to proceed. There is a time limit for one to respond, and because this is an extremely complicated area of the law, it may be beneficial to retain the services of an experienced estate attorney. Failing to follow the required procedures during the time period one has to respond may lead to a ruling in favor of the other sibling.

Medicaid planning a sound financial goal in the New Year

  • 02
  • January
    2015

As 2015 begins, many in New Jersey have taken the time to consider things they would like to accomplish in the coming year. For many, planning for their retirement and beyond is at the top of that list. In addition to traditional estate-planning needs, many individuals and families are interested in learning more about the proper Medicaid planning.

Planning for Medicaid involves a careful and comprehensive plan in which the ability to claim this valuable resource is maximized. In order for an individual to access Medicaid benefits, he or she must have monthly income no greater than $809, or $1,192 if there is another person living within the same household. In addition, the available resources must be less than $14,550 for one person or $21,550 for two people. These limits do not include a $1,500 burial account.

How do frozen eggs and fertility factor into estate planning?

  • 26
  • December
    2014

When considering various estate planning options, many in New Jersey follow a similar path of the loved ones who have gone before. While there are many and varied virtues to be found in tradition, estate planning requires a far more forward thinking approach, especially in regard to advancements in medicine and technology. A prime example lies in the issue of fertility treatments, and how new approaches could create complicated genealogical lines.

Many readers may be aware that both Apple and Facebook recently announced that they will begin covering the cost for their female employees to freeze their eggs, should they choose to do so. This benefit is a welcome relief for many young women who want to advance their careers before beginning their families. However, the implications of such a choice can create a complicated estate planning scenario.

Discussing estate planning during New Year celebrations

  • 24
  • December
    2014

For many in New Jersey, the prospect of discussing end-of-life planning with loved ones is distressing. Few people want to look this particular reality of life directly in the eye, which leaves many families with little idea how to handle the affairs of their deceased loved ones. While Thanksgiving and Christmas may not offer ideal settings to discuss estate planning  issues, many people find the New Year's gatherings are far less emotionally charged.

As families prepare to welcome in the New Year, many individuals are preparing their own list of resolutions and plans for the months ahead. This environment of planning and forward thinking is perfect to broach the subject of estate planning. In addition, having most or all of one's relatives in the same place at the same time is a difficult feat to accomplish at other points during a given year.