If you're a young professional of the millennial generation, you've probably got a lot on your plate. High unemployment during the Great Recession, an average of $30,000 in student loans -- you've even redefined the American Dream as a life lived without debt.
A loved one's death may be the end of his or her life, but it is only the beginning of tasks that need to be completed by family members left behind. You may feel as though you spent all of your energy planning and attending the funeral and burial. However, once these initial tasks are completed, you may be responsible for dealing with your loved one's financial affairs and the distribution of his or her property through a process called estate administration.
Many New Jersey residents have retirement plans, annuities and life insurance policies. These accounts do not pass through probate but instead go directly to beneficiaries through forms filed with the company for each account. How these forms are filled out can have an impact on an individual's estate.
The majority of New Jersey residents are aware that a will establishes how and to whom a person's estate will be distributed after death. A will guides estate administration. Not having a will complicates matters and puts the distribution of assets squarely in the hands of the Surrogate's Court, which is guided by state law instead of the wishes of the decedent.
Many New Jersey residents know that their family members may end up arguing about their inheritance. Even if each inheritance is equal in value, those who are receiving them may not think so. One way to limit -- or eliminate -- those rivalries, is by being open about estate planning.
After a loved one dies, the family must deal with wrapping of his or her affairs. Hopefully, a deceased family member in New Jersey took the time to put his or her wishes into a will. The probate of a will is not without its challenges, but having a will puts the family in a better position than it would be without one.
Back on Feb. 26, we wrote about Philip Seymour Hoffman's estate ("Where did Philip Seymour Hoffman's estate planning go wrong?"). More details recently came to light regarding why he may have set up his estate the way he did. Reportedly, he was adamant about not allowing his children to be considered "trust-fund kids," and his estate planning reflects that. Some New Jersey residents may not know that his children were not among the heirs to his estate. Virtually everything will pass to his partner of many years, to whom he was not married.
For numerous New Jersey residents, estate planning does not end with wills and trusts. Most retirement accounts -- including IRAs -- life insurance policies and annuities are not governed by those documents. They require the account owner to fill out a beneficiary designation, but if an individual is not careful, beneficiaries may not receive the inheritance intended for them.
Virtually everyone in New Jersey and nationwide has heard of the Kennedy family, which was made infamous through the political aspirations and tragedies surrounding the children of the family's patriarch, Joe Kennedy. Another thing for which the Kennedys are known is their vast wealth. It was the foresight of Joe Kennedy and the trusts he founded that may keep Kennedy heirs wealthy for decades to come.
An estate plan is formulated to express the wishes of the one making the plan. However, a New Jersey resident’s heirs have to live with those wishes. If an individual is not careful, one's heirs could end up resenting each other after he or she passes away.