Sussex County Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning Lawyers
Many people work their entire lives to build a financial legacy to pass onto their heirs, provide security for their loved ones in the immediate wake of their deaths, and accomplish other goals. Wills, trusts, and estate planning lawyers in Sussex County can give people the legal tools they need to meet these objectives. Furthermore, by making important decisions in advance, clients obtain additional peace of mind.
The experienced elder law attorneys at Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C. know that effective estate planning is a process. We begin by talking with our clients about their goals and aspirations. Then, working together, we draw up legally solid documents which are also easy to understand, to there is no guesswork when the will, trust, or other estate planning documents are executed. As a result, our clients experience that elusive peace of mind that everyone wants as they age.
Why Should I Make a Will with a New Jersey Attorney?
A majority of people either do not have a will or do not have an up-to-date will, so many simply do not see the need for such an estate planning document. Many other individuals rely on do-it-yourself, one-size-fits-all legal forms that they uncover online. Because they are often difficult to enforce and may not accurately reflect the wishes of the testator (person who makes a will), such instruments often do more harm than good.
In contrast, New Jersey estate planning lawyers draw up wills and other documents that are tailored to the needs of their clients. Often, these documents are ready for review after just one office visit. A will covers a wide range of issues, including:
- Nominating an executor to carry out the will’s provisions. In most cases, the testator can name an individual or a professional corporation to carry out this important duty.
- Empowering the executor to negotiate more favorable payment terms with the estate’s creditors, and also to make payment arrangements with these companies.
- Distributing assets to designated beneficiaries. This function is arguably the most important component of a New Jersey will.
- Giving money or transferring other property to charitable organizations, as designated in the will.
- Appointing named individuals as estate managers, and giving them the power to dispose of certain property as directed in the will.
- Establishing a trust to meet the financial needs of minor or disabled heirs.
- Setting limits on the future use of property, especially real property that will either remain in the family or sold to only designated individuals or entities.
Drafting the New Jersey will is only part of an estate planning solution. Under state law, the will must be entirely in writing, contain no mark-ups or annotations, be witnessed by at least two people, and be Notarized. At Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C., we arrange for an informal will signing ceremony that satisfies all these imperatives.
In the event that the testator already has a will, rather than making a codicil (legally enforceable amendment), or New Jersey elder law attorneys normally recommend that the testator physically destroy the existing will and begin anew. That is the best way to avoid confusion and a probate battle that no one really wants.
What are My Legal Trust Options in Sussex County?
Essentially, a trust involves giving money to one person with the understanding that the money must benefit another person. If you give money to a babysitter so s/he can order food for the kids later, you have created a trust. There is a settlor (person who created the trust, which is you), a trustee (the babysitter who manages the money), a corpus (money or other property), and a beneficiary (the children).
New Jersey trusts work in basically the same way. All four elements must be present. The one major difference, aside from legal formalities, is that the settlor and trustee are often the same person. There are several categories of trusts:
- Testamentary v. Inter Vivos Trust: Testamentary trusts take effect upon the settlor’s death. While they do not avoid probate, they clearly set aside money or other property for whatever lawful purpose that the settlor designates. As the name implies, inter vivos (living) trusts take effect while the settlor is still alive. These vehicles do keep assets out of probate, since the person who dies no longer has legal title to the asset. Moreover, inter vivos trusts are not public record, and that is a big plus for many clients.
- Revocable v. Irrevocable Trust: The settlor may make changes to a revocable trust, which may include designating a new trustee, removing a beneficiary, or adding property to the corpus. The settlor cannot make any changes to an irrevocable trust, but these vehicles have significant tax advantages and also play a major role in Medicaid planning.
There are several specific types of trusts available, including spendthrift trusts that place limits on distributions to beneficiaries and special needs trusts that provide funds to beneficiaries without compromising their ability to receive certain government benefits.
The Elements of a New Jersey Estate Plan
Elder law in Sussex County is often a combination of science and art. Wills and trust are the science, and estate planning is the art. It is not enough to draft these documents because a New Jersey estate planning attorney must put these documents into motion according to the person’s specific needs. Additional documents may be required, as well, such as a durable power of attorney.
Rely on Dedicated Lawyers
A comprehensive estate plan is the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out. For a free consultation with an experienced elder law attorney in Sussex County, contact Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C. After-hours appointments are available.
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