Estate planning can help you protect your assets and implement an organized strategy for the eventual distribution of those assets in a way that fulfills your personal desires and objectives. Your “estate” generally includes your total accumulated wealth, including real estate and personal property. In addition to protecting and providing for distribution of an estate, estate planning often includes preparing for long-term health care. Careful estate planning therefore allows you remain in control of both your future medical needs and the future distribution of the assets that you have worked for a lifetime to accumulate.
Estate planning is important for people at all economic levels. Without estate planning, your estate will pass according to the laws of inheritance in your state of permanent or habitual residence (your “domicile”). With proper estate planning, you can create a personal distribution plan, potentially simplifying probate and improving tax treatment. A wide variety of tools are available to help you meet your New Jersey estate planning goals, including:
- Wills and testaments
- Living trusts and living wills
- Special needs trusts for children
- Powers of attorney
- And various asset protection devices
Different individuals have different estate planning needs. You may be primarily interested in minimizing estate taxes, or you may wish to make arrangements for a minor child, a child with special needs, or an adult child that you fear may not be a competent money manager. Perhaps you have step-children, extended family members, or close friends that you wish to provide for, or perhaps you wish to make a charitable bequest to a cause that is close to your heart. You may have questions about insurance proceeds, creditors’ rights, beneficiary designations, or long-term care. You may want to know what will happen to jointly titled property, or whether there will be any potential repercussions from gifting substantial amounts of money or property to children or grandchildren during your lifetime.
Many aspects of family law overlap with estate planning considerations. If you are going through a significant life change such as a divorce, this is a good time to meet with an estate planning attorney, either to create a new estate plan or to update your existing plan. Many divorce issues are intertwined with estate planning issues. Marital settlement agreements, prenuptial agreements, and postnuptial agreements should always be coordinated with estate plans. The experienced family law attorneys at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group are sensitive to these considerations and can help you decide when estate planning is appropriate and what kind of estate planning advice will best fit your individual needs.
It can be difficult to contemplate what will happen to your assets after you pass away, but addressing concerns in a timely manner can prevent any future confusion about your intentions. A clear estate plan may even prevent unpleasant litigation among your family members.
While these can be challenging subjects, careful planning and consultation with a compassionate estate planning attorney can help ensure that you stay in control of all of these issues, providing for your future needs and the future needs of your family in the way that you see fit.
Find out about estate planning and divorce, or estate planning when divorcing with children. Ask us about your estate planning needs and for a New Jersey attorney to guide you on the process as you prepare for the best action plans for your varying life events. Call us to schedule your initial consultation: (888) 888-0919.