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Cherry Hill NJ Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

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.

Provide instructions for your family after your death

When you have loved ones who count on you, the thought of losing you might be frightening to them. One of the ways that you can make this transition to life without you easier on them is to have your estate plan set up. At a minimum, your estate plan is going to include a will, but there are also other components that might come into the picture to ensure that your wishes are clearly conveyed.

We can help you get your estate plan all set. We will discuss your wishes with you so that we know what options might help you. Once we give you this information, you will decide how to handle the estate plan.

Beware of prepaid funerals and the pitfalls they come with

The idea of a prepaid funeral is appealing to many people because they think that this will take the stress off their loved ones. This does seem like it would the best thing to do, but issues with prepaid funeral are more common than what you might realize. It is important that you consider this option carefully and learn about the alternatives that you have to helping your loved ones.

The money for a prepaid funeral should be protected and used only for your services; however, this isn't how it might play out. There are many cases in which the funeral home misapplies the funds or when they aren't documented at all. Unfortunately, this could throw your loved ones into a legal battle when they should be able to focus on healing after your death.

Estate administration duty: Paying the estate's debts

The estate administrator has a number of jobs to do before the estate can be closed out. One of these is paying for the debts that the estate has incurred. There are specific limitations and orders that come with this duty, so anyone who has it should make sure that they understand the ins and outs of this area of the law.

It is important to know that heirs shouldn't be responsible for paying the estate debts. There are times when creditors might contact the decedent's loved ones for payment. When this happens, they should direct the creditor to the estate administrator. This adds another duty to the administrator's list. He or she might have to deal with demanding and pushy creditors.

Probate litigation doesn't have to be an issue

The probate process is mystifying to some people who haven't ever had to deal with it before. Some people think that when a family member passes away, you just divide up his or her stuff and move on with life. This isn't usually what needs to happen.

Many people pass away with an estate plan in place. Even when the person doesn't have one in place, there is still a certain order that needs to be followed for passing out assets. When these aren't handled in the right manner, there is a chance that the estate will end up in probate litigation.

Don't be afraid of estate planning; it is easier than you think

There seems to be a misconception floating around that estate planning is difficult. This isn't the case. Getting the estate plan together is actually fairly simple. The hardest part might be deciding what you are going to leave to whom and what you want in your final days. We are here to guide you through the entire process.

When we meet with you, we will find out what goals you have for your estate. This can give us an idea of what we need to include in the estate plan. Sometimes, the plan is as simple as creating a will. In other cases, there are multiple documents and components to the plan. Even if your estate plan is one of the more complex ones, our guidance can take the guesswork out of it.

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

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CHERRY HILL, NJ 08034

Phone: 856-673-0048
Fax: 856-673-0052
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Law Offices of Nancy M. Rice
Linwood Professional Plaza
2021 New Road, Unit #9
Linwood, NJ 08221

Phone: 609-398-3447
Fax: 856-673-0052
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