In a country where more than half of all adult citizens have never even created a Last Will and Testament, it should come as no surprise that estate planning doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. For a variety of reasons, however, everyone should have an estate plan of some kind. Maybe you have children who need to be cared for if something happens to you. Perhaps you have business interests that need to survive your death or incapacitation. You almost certainly have assets that you need to have distributed to your loved ones when you die. All of that requires a plan.
In our experience, part of the reluctance to commit to effective estate planning often relates to a lack of understanding about how estate plans work and what they can accomplish. In many instances, people simply have questions that need to be answered before they can confidently approach an attorney to begin their own estate planning efforts. If you’re uncertain about how estate planning works or simply need quick access to planning information, there are many valuable resources available to help.
New Jersey Estate Planning and Related Laws
To get a better understanding about how estate planning works in the state of New Jersey, it can be helpful to review the state’s laws in areas like probate, wills, and durable power of attorneys. The following links can help:
- New Jersey Probate Laws: Learn what the law has to say about probate in the state of New Jersey, including important details about the personal representative’s role, assets subject to probate, and other important areas of the probate process.
- New Jersey Will Laws: If you’re creating a will, you need to know how to do it right to ensure that it is valid in the state. These laws provide vital details about the various requirements that must be met to ensure that your will accomplishes your legacy goals.
- New Jersey Living Wills Laws: Information you need to know about advance directives that every individual should have in place.
The Estate Tax
Many people worry about the impact of the estate tax on the legacy they plan to leave behind for their loved ones. It is important to understand the relevant facts surrounding the estate tax, both at the federal and state level. The following resources can help you to gain greater familiarity with these complex tax concerns:
- The IRS Estate Tax page: The IRS provides some basic information about how the estate tax works at the federal level, and which estates could be subject to the tax’s provisions.
- New Jersey Estate Tax Information: It is equally important to have insight into how the state’s estate tax works to ensure that your planning takes these relevant taxes into consideration. The New Jersey Department of the Treasury website is a great place to start.
- New Jersey Estate Tax and Inheritance Tax Forms: If you need to file a New Jersey estate tax return, federal return, or inheritance tax return, it is vital that you have the correct forms. You can find downloadable forms on the Department of the Treasury’s site.
Estate Planning Resources that Can Help
There are also important decisions that have to be made about how your family will be cared for when you are gone. As important as the legal niceties are, at some point the process becomes personal for the person creating the plan. Fortunately, there are some resources that can help you to get the advice and insight you need about the types of tools and strategies you need to rely on to create your comprehensive plan.
- Glossary of Terms: Unless you studied law or spent some time researching this area of law, chances are that you’ll encounter an assortment of terms that seem unfamiliar to you. To avoid any unnecessary confusion and expand your understanding, it can be helpful to have access to a glossary that explains all of those terms.
- Probate: The American Bar Association offers an overview to help you get a better understanding about probate, when it applies, and how to determine whether you need to avoid it.
- Revocable Trust Primer: The ABA also provides information about revocable trusts – one of the most popular tools used by many people engaged in estate planning today. Learn about how these important asset protection solutions just might be the estate planning tool you need to meet many of your strategic objectives.
- Guidelines for Trustees and Executors: Finally, the ABA has an overview of all of the main duties and guidelines related to the executor and trustee roles. If you’re creating an estate plan and wonder just what you’ll be asking of that person you designate as an executor or trustee, this is the place to get those answers.
The Legal Help You Need
Perhaps the greatest resource you need is access to an experienced estate planning attorney. While it is true that the rise of the internet has brought with it a whole host of websites offering free and low-cost downloadable do-it-yourself (DIY) estate planning products, there are very sound reasons for avoiding them. For while they can benefit some people in certain situations, they are just as likely to create as many or more problems than they solve. Remember, DIY wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents can never provide the type of customized solutions that your unique circumstances demand.
At Augulis Law Firm, our experienced team of estate planning and elder law attorneys are committed to helping clients just like you identify the ideal estate planning strategies to meet your life and legacy goals. We’ll work with you to ensure that your assets are protected and secured for your benefit during your lifetime, and properly distributed in accordance with your wishes when your life someday ends. Contact us online today or give us a call at (913) 385-9400 to learn more about how we can help you with your estate planning needs.