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Cherry Hill NJ Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Family heirlooms should be included in your estate plan

Thinking about how your relatives will carry on when you pass away is difficult. One thing that you might do is ensure that your estate plan is in place so they have one less thing to worry about. This will help them focus on their healing. We can help you get things together so that you can plan for them.

While many people are focused on handing out big assets, others are more worried about the fate of family heirlooms. Both of these are equally important in estate planning so finding a balance between them is important.

Creating a valid will isn't difficult

When you create an estate plan, you need to write a will. This document might seem old-fashioned, but it still plays an important role in the estate. Without one, the state will determine who gets your assets based on intestate succession laws, which outline exactly what will happen based on a person's relationship to you.

There are several things that you need to know about writing a will. All of these work together to ensure that the will is deemed valid in court. Here are a few things that you need to remember:

  • You must have a sound mind, which means that you understand exactly what the will is going to do to your assets and for the heirs when you pass away.
  • You need to be at least 18 years old unless you have joined the military or are married.
  • Your will must not be made under duress. You have to voluntarily include the provisions that are listed in the document.
  • All of your assets and property that you are distributing must be clearly listed in the will along with instructions about where each item will go.
  • Your will must be witnessed by two other people who aren't named in the will. They must watch you sign and date the document so they can attest to it containing your signature if there is ever a question raised.

Estate administration duties may add stress to a difficult time

Finding out that you are the administrator over a loved one's estate usually comes at a time when your mind is reeling from their death. It is easy to become overwhelmed when you are thrust into this spot, especially when you find out suddenly that you need to do these duties. We know that you might have some questions about the specifics of what you need to do.

Sometimes, having to deal with the probate process is a lot when you are dealing with the emotional turmoil of the death. Plus, you might be trying to make final arrangements, which can add more stress to your life.

A will contest must be carefully planned

Probate litigation isn't something that most people will experience in their lifetime. Most wills go through the process without any issue. In fact only around 1 percent have issues, while the remaining 99 percent pass though without any problems.

You can't challenge a will for any random reason, nor can anyone contest it. There are very strict requirements for doing this. You have to be a person with a valid interest in the will, which means that you are actually in the current will, in a previous version of it or would stand to inherit something if there wasn't a will at all. If none of these apply, you can't contest the will.

Estate planning must be a priority for young adults

Young adults don't think that they will die soon, so they might put off getting their estate plans together. This isn't a good idea, as you never know when an accident or health issue might claim your life. Instead of leaving your family without a clue about your wishes, you should start working on an estate plan right away.

We know that some circumstances can make getting your estate plan together difficult. We are here to learn your thoughts about the disposition of your estate to your intended heirs. This might help you to determine what type of plan you need to establish.

Estate planning with special needs dependents

Parents who have a special needs child often worry about what is going to happen to their child when they aren't there to care for them. Unfortunately, this huge concern doesn't always have an easy answer. One thing that the parents can do is to ensure that their estate plan sets up the best scenario for the child.

Special needs children and adults who receive government assistance, including Medicaid, are participating in needs-based programs. This means that they can lose their benefits if they have too many assets in their name. In most cases, the loss of these benefits would be devastating. Because of the limits set by these programs, the parents can't just leave assets to the child through a will.

The journey toward finding heirs and assets might be challenging

There are many things that you have to think about when a loved one passes away. If you are over that person's estate, there are many different tasks to complete. Obviously, making the final arrangements and getting through the funeral are priorities in the early days. After that, your attention will turn toward your estate administration duties. We are here if you need some assistance doing this.

One thing that you are going to have to do is to find out where all of the estate's assets are located. Please be careful when you are doing this because you don't want to overlook anything. Any mistakes that you make when you are handling these duties could have a negative impact on the estate and the heirs.

Estate plans can offer benefits beyond tax considerations

Tax considerations are sometimes cited as a reason to have an estate plan in place. While this is certainly a consideration in some instances, it doesn't play a part in others.

Many people don't realize just how important it is to have your estate plan in place when you pass away. Consider these reasons that don't have anything to do with taxes:

  • Privacy: Setting up trusts for your heirs means that they don't have to go through the probate process, which can help to keep the terms private
  • Protection from creditors: Certain trusts can protect assets from being claimed by creditors, but some won't provide any protection so use caution if this is the purpose
  • Guardianship: Parents with minor children can set up plans for those children as part of their estate plan.
  • Care for pets: Provisions in the estate plan can ensure that pets are cared for after you pass away
  • Plans for incapacity: The living will, advance medical directives and powers of attorney can provide instructions and plans if you become incapacitated
  • Control over assets: Your estate plan lets you outline who is going to get what and when they will get it.

Why should you name an executor for your estate?

One of the duties you will have when you are creating an estate plan is naming the executor to your estate. This person has considerable responsibilities to handle when you pass away. With this in mind, it is imperative that you choose a person who can take care of business when it is time.

You might think that you need to name your closest relative, but this might not always be the best option. For one thing, your loved one might be too emotionally distraught to handle things right away. For another, you need to make sure that you choose someone who is familiar with the probate system or else this job can be overwhelming.

Probate disputes can be handled through mediation

Probate disputes can be trying matters for the people who are involved. When your family members opt to dispute an estate plan, it can mean that you will have to fight for what your deceased loved one wanted you to have.

While you might think that all estate disputes need to be hashed during a trial, this isn't the case. There are times when it is appropriate for the case to go through a trial; however, many estate disputes can be easily handled through mediation. One of the things that determines if this is a good idea is the already present family dynamic.

Law Offices of Nancy M. Rice
Representing clients in Ocean City and communities throughout New Jersey.

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