Most people in New Jersey are aware that they should have an estate plan. What many people aren't sure of is what they want that estate plan to accomplish. It's not just about how much or what assets a person wants to leave to each family member, it's how that amount or those assets will be left.
For instance, leaving a specific amount of money to an adult is much different than leaving that same amount to a child. In most cases, the person making out the will won't have much in the way of concern for what the adult does with the money. However, many people would consider having someone hold onto the money left to a child.
That's where estate planning documents such as trusts come into play. It's not enough to just have a will drafted. Trusts are not only useful when dealing with minors, but also when attempting to limit the amount of estate tax that family members will be responsible for paying when receiving his or her share of the estate. For many people, this is not much of an issue since an individual can inherit up to $5.25 million and a couple can inherit twice that amount before any taxes will be due.
No matter how simple or complex an estate plan is, making sure that it appropriately reflects the desires and wishes of the maker is what matters. Most everyone in New Jersey has some idea of what they want to happen to their assets when they pass away, but without an estate plan, it will be up to the state to decide where it all goes. That's why it's so important to put those ideas into writing.
Source: Northwest Herald, "Five steps to take in devising an estate plan," July 6, 2013