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Bridgewater New Jersey Estate Planning Law Blog

Which family members are most apt to contest your will?

It can be beneficial for testators, or for those drafting a will, to communicate with their heirs in advance of their passing. By doing so, they can let them know what their final wishes are. This seldom happens though. Many of them let their preferences be known only after their executor files their will with a New Jersey probate court. This often results in hurt feelings and contested wills.

Quarreling siblings

Inheritance tax in New Jersey depends on connection

It is a difficult subject to tackle, but successful people spend some time and effort working out the details of their end of life plans. Many people have assets and properties to share out among living beneficiaries or charitable organizations, and many of them also have families to consider for the future.

Larger assets may be subject to taxation by the federal government or the state government in Trenton. If assets include a house, especially if it is a primary home, writers of wills often want to know if their children or other inheritors will be able to afford to keep it.

When is asset protection important for people in New Jersey?

If you have worked hard during a career and earned everything you have, it is almost a reflex to protect it for yourself in later life as well as for your children. When it applies to the law, there are various laws in different jurisdictions that help people protect their assets with trusts and other instruments.

What is a homestead exemption?

Woman explains why you shouldn't put off estate planning

One woman's mother put off her estate planning, and in fact, she never got around to it at all. When she passed away, she did not leave a trust, a will or any other documentation.

Her death was unexpected, which could be part of the reason why. Many people assume they still have a long time to do their estate planning when they could actually pass away from a car accident, a sudden illness or some other unexpected event in the very near future.

Executors shouldn't try to administer an estate all on their own

When a testator drafts their will, they're required to appoint an executor to handle their estate once they've passed on. The person selected for this role should be trustworthy as they'll be responsible for paying final expenses and distributing assets to your heirs. This executor should be advised of their appointment to this role in advance so that they can learn more about their responsibilities.

One of the first steps that an executor should take after the testator dies is to locate and file their original will along with a certified copy of the testator's death certificate.

Trusts and insurance are key asset protection planning approaches

If you were to ask most Americans what estate planning entails, they'd likely say that it involves drafting a will, a power of attorney or maybe setting up a trust or something else along those lines. If asked to give a reason why they need each of these, they'd likely tell you to designate their assets for their heirs after they've died. What they may not know is that these are instruments, much like insurance, that can also help preserve an asset's value.

Asset protection is a large part of the estate planning process, especially if you've accumulated significant wealth or if there's the potential of you having money-hungry creditors hunting you (or your heirs) down.

Getting a judge to appoint a new executor requires convincing

One of the key responsibilities of the person drafting a will, or testator, is to select the executor of their estate. The individual appointed to this role is responsible for preserving the value of its assets, filing its final tax return, paying creditors and distributing what's left in the estate to any heirs. It's a sign of trusts for a testator to appoint you to this role. Being given it doesn't mean that the heirs will agree that you're worthy of it, though.

Testators are supposed to regularly revisit their wills to make sure that they continue to reflect their wishes. Few do, though. If a will was written a long time ago, then the testator may have since died. Their ability to trust them may have faltered as well. The role of the probate judge is to make sure that your final wishes are carried out, though, including having your executor handle your affairs.

Protecting children via trust when getting remarried

It's not out of the ordinary to get married two times in life. It's also not out of the ordinary to have children from your first marriage move in with you and your new spouse in Middlesex, New Jersey. What many parents need to realize is that they have to protect their children in their second marriage. This is done by updating the estate plan and creating a trust.

A trust will spell out all of your wishes when you have minor children. This is important when you are married for a second or subsequent time. If you don't want your children to wait until your second spouse dies before they receive your assets you can have them placed in a trust and then distributed upon your death.

Are you responsible for a deceased loved one's debts?

People who pass away have often battled a long illness like cancer. Many have simply had years of poor health. Sometimes they die after a serious accident. In all of these cases, they may leave many thousands of dollars in medical bills. What happens to all of those unpaid bills?

Medical bills and all other debts that a person had when they died are typically paid by their estate. That's if there's enough money in the estate to cover them. What if there isn't? Are surviving family members responsible for their loved one's debt?

Why do we procrastinate when it comes to estate planning?

People often put off their estate planning for "another day," but that becomes months and then years. They constantly tell themselves that they'll get to it eventually, but they never do.

Why do we do this? To understand it, you need to look at why people procrastinate in general. According to leading psychologists, procrastination is about avoiding pain. The definition of pain is very broad, however, and it can include things like shame, fear or vulnerability. Even when people know they have to face it eventually, they can't bring themselves to do it at the moment.

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