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Cherry Hill NJ Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

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.

Tips for letting your family know about your estate plan

Creating your estate plan is only part of what you need to do to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of when you pass away. Once you have the plan in order, you need to talk to your family members to let them know what your estate plan says. This gives them a chance to get clarification of anything they aren't sure about.

When you discuss this with them, you must do so in a factual manner. If things aren't set how they feel they should be, there is a chance that someone will get upset. Being prepared to handle this can be beneficial so that you know how you will reply. It might also help to bring a list of topics, including your medical care wishes, that you want to discuss with them.

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.

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

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