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Bridgewater New Jersey Estate Planning Law Blog

Why does it take so long to settle a New Jersey probate case?

It's often not long after a family member dies that their loved ones begin clamoring to get a piece of what they feel that they're due from it. While many heirs may think that they can simply walk into a decedent's home and take what they feel is rightfully theirs, this is not the case. There are steps that an executor must take before this can happen. This is why it can take a while for a New Jersey a decedent's assets to be distributed to their heirs.

Most beneficiaries wait on average six months for an estate to be settled. It's during that time frame that all of a testator's assets have to be inventoried and potentially appraised. An executor is also responsible for filing a decedent's final tax return and for contacting and paying off their creditors. It's only once all this has been done that a testator's personal representative can finally distribute any remaining assets to any heirs.

Don't skimp on your disability insurance

Many workers are allowed to purchase disability insurance when renewing their employment benefits each year. Others have the option of purchasing such coverage on their own in the marketplace. Few individuals take advantage of the opportunity to purchase disability insurance though. Many individuals don't take out this coverage because they don't think that they'll get hurt. They don't realize that disability insurance is a key way to protect their assets.

Yes, you're right. Your health insurance will cover most of your health-related costs if you become sick or injured. That coverage won't help you if you become so ill or suffer such a debilitating injury that you're unable to work. While you may ultimately qualify to receive disability payments if your medical condition is terminal or so serious that it prevents you from working at all, it's bound to take some time for you to qualify for such benefits. Disability insurance can kick in much sooner than that.

Does serving as the executor of an estate come at a cost?

It's a great honor to be chosen as the executor of someone's estate. It means that the testator, or the person writing the will, has a great deal of respect for you and that they trust you to carry out their final wishes. Being chosen as the executor of someone's estate does come at a price though.

Serving the role as executor of someone's estate can take a lot of time. You will spend a lot of time running back and forth filing paperwork with the county probate court. You'll have to prepare the testator's final tax return and negotiate with their creditors. You'll have to inventory their assets and reach out to their heirs to make sure that they receive what they're due. There are many other responsibilities that you have in this role as well.

What estate planning documents should childless couples draft?

One of the steps that couples take when they find out that they're expected a child is to sit down with an attorney to engage in estate planning. They often do this to appoint a guardian to raise their kids and to make financial arrangements if something happens to them. While these aren't some of the hard decisions that childless couples have to make, there are other difficult choices regarding the legacy that they want to leave that they have to decide on though.

While many individuals think that they should only draft a will if they have something of value to leave to their heirs like children, this isn't the case. Everyone needs to have a will.

Why is minimizing your lawsuit risk key to estate planning?

When most individuals hear the terminology "asset protection," they often think about making sure that their home, car or tangible property are well-maintained so that they retain their value across the years. Few individuals think about how a lawsuit filed against them could put their assets at risk. Protecting yourself against a potential lawsuit is a critical component of the estate planning process.

In most cases, a plaintiff doesn't necessarily need to substantiate any claims that they make to simply file a lawsuit against someone else. Defending yourself against an allegation of impropriety can be costly. The longer that a case remains open, the apter it is to potentially harm you or your company's reputation. It can be costly to repair such damage once it's been done.

Make sure that your digital assets are covered in your will

When people are asked about estate planning, they often mention wills, health care directives and powers of attorney. Most people describe what they'd like to happen with their tangible assets such as a car, house or family heirloom if they were to pass in their will. Few detail what they'd like to happen with their digital ones like email accounts or online photo albums in it. It's something that should be included there, though.

In an era of paperless offices, social media, email and smartphones, it seems that many people's personal and professional lives are all tied into technology.

Asset protection benefits associated with Delaware trusts

Whether you're just getting around to planning your estate or you're reviewing the existing plan that you have in place, you likely are well aware of how important asset protection is to this process. Setting up a trust in Delaware carries with it many different benefits, especially when it comes to maximizing your wealth or preserving your assets.

Setting up a Delaware trust in a great option for if you want to grow your assets. A trustee can award payouts of up to 5% of the many assets contained in the trust to beneficiaries per the Total Return Unitrust statute. The rest of the assets contained within can be invested in long-term growth opportunities so that the future needs of beneficiaries can be met.

Estate administration doesn't just include asset distribution

It's generally not long after a testator's funeral has happened and their will has been filed with a Middlesex probate court that beneficiaries start coming out of the woodworks. They often do so to make sure that they get their cut of the assets. While you may be tempted to speed up the estate administration process to put an end to all the chaos, it's best if you don't make any rash decisions.

New Jersey has a list of responsibilities that an executor of an estate must follow to remain in compliance with existing laws. One of those responsibilities is to file the testator's final tax return. They're also required to pay off an estate's debts in full before they distribute any assets to any heirs.

Irrevocable trusts can be helpful in certain cases

One of the reasons that individuals set up irrevocable trusts is to make sure that their wishes will be upheld once they die. While a will can help you accomplish this, it requires the involvement of the probate court. Irrevocable and other types of trusts generally do not.

In case you're wondering what an irrevocable trust is, it's a trust that can't be changed by the grantor, or the person who created it. Once it's set up, the only people who can request to make changes after it's been put in place are the beneficiaries of it. You as the grantor no longer have rights to any of the assets that belong to the irrevocable trust once you transfer them into it.

How are conservatorships and guardianships different?

If they don't do so beforehand, many Middlesex residents finally get around to estate planning once they have a child. Others do so do as they age, especially if they have someone with special needs that they care for.

There are two estate planning tools called guardianships and conservatorships. They can be set up to ensure that your loved one's finances and health care are taken care of if they become unable to take care of them on their own.

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