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Cherry Hill NJ Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Things to consider if you want to challenge a will

Contesting a will is something that must only occur if you are certain that you are prepared to handle the drawbacks and feel that the benefits outweigh them. You have to ensure that the desire to contest the will isn't being done as an emotional reaction to your loved one's passing. While you are trying to determine how to handle the situation, there are several things you should consider.

One of the most important things that you need to consider is how the challenge is going to impact your family. Because this is going to pit some family members against others, there are bound to be some hard feelings. These might not go away quickly, and some can remain forever. Make sure that what you are trying to walk away with is worth losing some of your family members.

Disinheriting someone is only 1 option you have

As much as it hurts to think about, there are times when people need to disinherit someone from their estate plan. This is often seen as an extreme measure, but it is one that can be warranted. You might have other options that enable you to pass assets to them.

One of the reasons why you might want to disinherit someone is because you don't feel they will be responsible with the inheritance. This might be because of criminal activity, drug use or any other reason.

What should you include in a living will?

When you are setting up your estate plan, you can't think about only where your assets will go. You also need to consider what you want in your final days. Some people reach a state of incapacity before they pass away. This makes it impossible for them to make decisions about their care. Instead, they are going to count on loved ones to do this for them. Having a living will in place can make this time easier for your loved ones.

There are several things that you need to consider when you are trying to decide what to put into this document. Your personal preferences are all that matter in this document, so you can set it up exactly how you want.

Taxes and other obligations for estate administrators

Estate administrators have a lot of do when they are trying to close an estate. It is imperative that they do so in the appropriate manner so that they don't harm the estate, delay the closing or face troubles themselves for failing to meet their obligations for this duty. There are several things that they need to do.

One duty of the estate administrator is filing the final income tax return. This is due on the standard tax due date for the tax year in which the person passed away. If the person was married when they passed away, this 1040 is still filed as a joint return for this final year. You have to know whether medical bills need to be considered on this, and you should find out if the person has to pay a federal estate tax. In 2019, only estates worth more $11.4 million are subject to the federal estate tax, which is filed using Form 706.

Understand the purpose of a letter of instruction

When you think of an estate plan, you likely think about wills and trusts. But, there is another document that you need to prepare for your loved ones – the letter of instruction. This isn't legally binding, but it outlines important information that can benefit your family members when you die. You can leave one for everyone to read or you can leave individual letters for specific people.

One important thing to include in your letter of instruction is the details for your final arrangements. Would you prefer cremation over burial? Try to be specific so that your loved ones know exactly what you want. If you have a prepaid funeral plan or have made arrangements with a certain funeral home, you can include this information in the letter. If you know what casket or urn you want, include that, too.

Plan for handing your digital assets to loved ones

Digital assets are sometimes very important to people. This can include everything from your massive collection of ebooks and movies to your social media accounts. You should ensure that you have a plan in place for these after you pass away. If you don't, they might become inaccessible and useless. You can't think only about things that you purchased. Also, take the time to plan for things like family pictures and other similar things.

One thing that you might not realize is that without having your username and password for many of these websites, your loved ones might not be able to access anything. This could leave them without being able to enjoy the things you've collected. If you have websites or any other assets online, write them down, and make a plan for them.

Noncompliance with state law might lead to will contests

Choosing to go through litigation with a loved one's estate isn't an easy decision. For some people, the entire goal of the process is to ensure that the decedent's wishes are actually followed. One area that might come under scrutiny is the will.

In order to be legally valid, wills in New Jersey have to meet certain requirements. When they don't, the assets might be handled in accordance with the state's succession laws. This is an ordered list of who is able to receive the benefits of the estate according to their relationship with the decedent. Any one of the following points can be called into question:

Choosing the best guardian for your children

One of the most important things that you have to decide as part of your estate planning, particularly if you are a single parent, is who will care for your children if you pass away. The person you choose will need to have the guardianship designation. This is a legal document that gives them the power to do anything that you would normally do for the children, including making decisions about education and health care.

It is imperative that you choose a person who will be able to handle the duties of raising your children. Typically, younger children will require people who have more energy to care for them, so be sure to consider this when you are deciding on a guardian. You also need someone who is going to respect your wishes regarding your children's upbringing.

2 categories of debts that you might encounter in probate process

One of the main duties of an estate administrator is paying the debts of the estate. This is done with money in the estate since the bills shouldn't be passed down unless they are on something that is held jointly with someone else. There are a few things to know before you attempt to handle these debts after your loved one's death.

First, you need to make a complete list of the debts that must be addressed. These include things like property, federal, state and local taxes. It also includes loans of all sorts, including mortgages. Condominium fees, lines of credit, storage fees, utility bills, credit card bills and any other debt must be listed.

Powers of attorney are crucial estate plan components

Thinking about the end of your life on Earth isn't a pleasant thought for most people. One thing that you need to do is ensure that you have things set so that you can be cared for if you aren't able to make decisions on your own. You can handle this situation now by putting powers of attorney designations into your estate plan. We know that it can be challenging to make this type of decision.

You need to set a plan for two areas of your life. One of these is for your finances. This person is going to make all decisions about your money and assets. This can include selling your home, buying a new property, paying your bills and taking care of all other money matters.

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

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