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Cherry Hill NJ Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Know when to make changes to your estate plan

Your estate plan is the key to what is going to happen to you and your assets. It includes some end-of-life plans, such as the advanced directive, and your will and trusts. Many people think that once they create the plan, they won't have to do anything else with it. That misconception can prove costly in the future.

It's a good idea to periodically review your estate plan to ensure that it still reflects your most current wishes. You can do this every year or two. You also need to check it if you have some major life changes.

Talking about your parents' estate plan

Talking about an estate plan isn't something that's easy. Instead, it takes time and compassion to have these discussions. If you want to discuss their estate plan with your aging parents, remember that this might not something that they can easily or quickly. In some cases, they may dodge the questions you have because they haven't made an estate plan.

Only around 42% of Americans have a will set up. The individuals who don't have one are leaving everything up to chance. They aren't letting anyone know what their wishes are for their assets. Instead, they are letting the state's laws dictate what happens.

Administrators should know how heirs and beneficiaries differ

Many people tend to use the terms "heir" and "beneficiary" interchangeably, but these are actually very different terms. It is important that people who are handling the estate administration duties understand what the differences are, so they can use the proper terminology as they handle the estate.

For the purpose of estate planning, an heir is a person who is listed in the intestate succession laws. These are individuals include the spouse, children and other family members.

Young adults should think about the future

All adults should have an estate plan in place just in case something happens to you. The problem is that many young adults think that they have plenty of time to create their plans so they don't take action. While they might be right, there is still a chance that the worst could happen. Then, their loved ones are left without a plan.

The process of creating an estate plan must be personalized. Everyone can't use the same template because every situation and circumstance is different. For example, a person who is single will have a much different estate plan than a person who is married and has children.

How is testamentary capacity defined?

One of the first steps that the executor of an estate must take when a testator dies is to round up their will to take and file it with the probate court in the county in which the decedent lived. It's often not until this happens that you, as an interested party, are made aware of the contents of your loved one's will. If you're unhappy with what it says, then you may be able to contest their will.

Wills can generally be contested if someone engages in fraud. This often happens in one of two different ways.

Small business owners must create a solid estate plan

When your small business is dependent upon you for daily actions and activities, you need to ensure that you have a plan in place just in case something happens to you. A business that is dependent on an owner will likely go under if that owner passes away suddenly. This can mean a tragic outcome for your company, and it might also be a tragedy for your family members if they're counting on the company for income.

One of the most important steps you can take is to have a succession plan in place. This provides the steps your company will take in order to transition it to the new normal. You have to determine whether you are going to transfer the company to another person, such as a family member, or whether you are going to have it sold to an outside entity. No matter which plan you set, you must ensure that there are instructions for how the company will run in your absence.

Determining whether an estate must go through probate or not

When you have a loved one who is writing an estate plan, they have to determine who is going to administer it. The person they name must be able to make decisions based on the current laws and the wishes of the creator. This isn't always easy, but making sure the person understands their duties is imperative.

If you are the person who is chosen as the administrator of the estate, you should ensure that you understand what duties you have. One of the important designations here is that you only have to deal with probate assets. These are things that are controlled by the contents of the will.

Estate bills still need to be paid during probate

Being an estate administrator means that you are responsible for paying the bills of the estate. Sometimes, the heirs think that they have to be the ones who take care of these bills; however, this isn't the case. Unscrupulous bill collectors might try to trick them into paying, but they should only tell the creditors to contact the administrator for payment.

It is a good idea to find out what bills the estate has as soon as possible. You have to divide them into two categories – final bills and administrative expenses. The final bills are the ones that will only have to be paid once. The administrative expenses are the recurring bills that will need to be paid for as long as the estate is still in probate.

Deciding whether to accept an executor appointment

The estate administration process is one that is mystifying to some people. If you know that you will have to handle this duty, you need to make sure that you understand it completely before you have to do the job. Make sure that you are up for each job because once you take on the position, you are expected to do what's required.

Because many executors are close to the decedent, they don't request a payment for their duties. They are entitled to one if they request to be compensated. The compensation is set forth by state law.

Revocable and irrevocable trusts

One of the decisions you have to make when you are creating an estate plan is whether you are going to establish a trust or not. There are many different types of trusts; however, they all fall into one of two possible categories. They are established as either revocable or irrevocable.

A trust is an estate planning tool that makes it easier to transfer assets to your heirs. Unlike the will, assets that are held in trusts don't go through the probate process. Instead, they move to the heir through a trustee.

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


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Linwood, NJ 08221

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