When is a Guardianship necessary?
A guardian is most often needed when someone becomes mentally incapacitated who never took the time to execute with an attorney two very important documents: a power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. These two documents allow you to designate who you want to appoint to care for you if you cannot care for yourself. If you do not execute these documents and you become incapacitated, the court will appoint a guardian for you. Guardianships can be expensive and time consuming and can result in guardianship contests if family members do not agree on who should be guardian - all good reasons to execute powers of attorney and health care powers of attorney while it can be easily done.
TOP OF PAGE
If someone can sign their name, does that mean they are competent to sign legal documents?
Not necessarily. A responsible attorney will always take the time before witnessing a document to make sure that the person executing the document fully understands what he or she is doing.
What is a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary is a person or entity to whom property or power is given for the benefit of another. Executors, trustees, health care representatives and the person you appoint in your power of attorney are your fiduciaries.
Can I probate a Will myself if I am the Executor?
An attorney can help you prepare the application for probate, assess whether there are likely to be taxes due, obtain a tax identification number, settle the estate and prepare an accounting for review by the beneficiaries. A simple estate with few assets and few beneficiaries can often be probated without the assistance of an attorney.
Who needs to do tax planning in thinking about their estate?
The easy answer is that if you have a gross New Jersey estate in excess of $675,000.00 including the proceeds of life insurance, you may need to do tax planning because your estate might trigger New Jersey estate taxes. Likewise, if your estate exceeds $5,430,000.00 in 2015, a second kind of tax, the federal estate tax, can come into play which requires careful planning to minimize the tax burden on the estate. Finally, you also may need to consider tax planning if you are leaving assets to a non-lineal descendent or a non-family member as that can trigger the New Jersey inheritance tax. Options often exist that will allow you to make sure the beneficiaries of your estate inherit as much and pay as little tax as is legally possible. Most often, many possibilities exist and after a thorough conference, we can design a plan that is appropriate for you. A good estate plan is a small investment that can yield savings of tens of thousands of dollars even on modest estates, and hundreds of thousands to millions on a larger estate.
Could I benefit from setting up a trust?
Trusts come in many different forms, but their common purpose is to set aside the funds of one person (the grantor), for the benefit of another person (the beneficiary), under the management of a fiduciary (the trustee). A trust is essentially a kind of contract, so it starts with drafting a trust document that outlines all the rules that will guide how the trust functions, and who it is intended to benefit. Then assets are either re-titled in the name of the trust (a deed is drafted transferring a home from John Doe to the John Doe Trust, for instance), or a new bank or brokerage account is created in the name of the trust, and assets transferred into the account. Trusts can be tax saving mechanisms, or vehicles used to simplify the management of complex estates. Trusts can also simplify the transfer of assets between generations. A trust might protect funds for the benefit of minors until the children are old enough to manage the funds themselves, or the trust might protect funds for the benefit of a disabled person. A trust can also allow you to name one beneficiary now, but another beneficiary for when the present beneficiary dies. Trusts can be simple or complex, but either way they are invaluable estate planning tools.
TOP OF PAGE