Estate planning is the process of preparing for the disposing of an estate during your lifetime, after your passing or a combination of both. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.
An experienced estate planning attorney, like those of The Jayson Law Group, can reduce uncertainty and anxiety regarding end of life issues and concerns. We can transfer all or part of your estate to your chosen beneficiaries. We can ensure that your children are taken care of financially and that legal guardians are assigned. We can work to protect your privacy by avoiding probate. In short, we work to protect the things that you have worked for your entire life so that your family can continue to enjoy them for generations to come.
How are Wills and Trusts Different?
While similar goals can be accomplished by both wills and trusts, they are distinct legal concepts. A will, sometimes called a final will and testament, is a written document that describes what should be done with your estate, or property, after your passing. Your estate is administered by an executor and must pass through probate. In contrast, a trust can also transfer property between people or entities. But, a trust does not pass through probate. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine what planning tools are appropriate for your goals and needs.
How Can Lawyers Plan an Estate?
Estate planning can involve wills, trusts, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, property ownership, gifts, and powers of attorney. An experienced attorney is likely to utilize an appropriate combination of the foregoing to achieve your goals. For instance, a power of attorney can be particularly flexible in achieving your healthcare and financial goals. POAs can include:
- Durable power of attorney – If your power of attorney (POA) is intended to survive your incapacity, which healthcare POAs must, the POA must contain language that makes it durable or springing. A durable POA can allow your designated agent to take action even if you become disabled or otherwise unable to manage your affairs.
- Springing power of attorney – For those who do not want to grant broad powers to another while they are still able to make decisions, a springing POA provides an alternative.
- Healthcare POA – Sometimes termed a living will or advanced directive, a healthcare POA concerns the medical treatment and life-sustaining treatment you may receive. You can advise your doctors and family members of the specific treatments and types of treatments you want to receive – and those you do not. Furthermore, you can provide instructions regarding your care depending on your quality of life or condition.
Virtually all estate planning attorneys now advise clients to also create a living will or advanced healthcare directive. However it is important to note that medical directives are not just for the sick or elderly. Becasue accidents can happen to anyone, taking a moment to think about these issues can greatly assist your grieving family members during a trying time. Specific final arrangements, such as whether to be buried or cremated, are also often part of the documents. More sophisticated estate plans are also typically comprehensive and can address deferring or decreasing estate taxes or winding up a closely held business or corporation.
Why would I want to avoid probate?
Probate is the process through which property that is devised in a will or transferred through intestacy must pass through. While the process can accomplish many of the same goals as trusts, property that passes through probate is of public record. Thus for those who are concerned about their privacy, the transfer of property through a trust may be a better option. Other reasons to avoid probate can include:
- Duration – The probate process can tie-up property for months or, in the event of a dispute, for years.
- Expense – There are typically executors’ fees, attorneys’ fees, court costs, and many other costs involved with probate. Property that passes through probate may be subject to additional fees and taxes.
Probate can often be avoided or the amount of property passing through can be minimized through the use of gifts, trusts, pay on death (POD) accounts, and other methods.
Put our New Jersey estate planning experience to work for you
If you or someone you know is in need of an Estate Planning attorney, please contact The Jayson Law Group for a confidential case evaluation. You can reach the firm by calling 908-258-0621 or contact us online.