You have undoubtedly accomplished a great deal in your lifetime, and have likely accumulated both assets and responsibilities along the way. An estate plan can simplify the process of passing your property on to the people you want to have it, and can help keep your assets relatively intact. A good estate plan created by an experienced New Jersey estate planner can not only simplify the process of transferring the property, but minimize the costs that your estate experiences in estate taxes and administration. In New Jersey, a good plan may also minimize the inheritance tax that the state imposes on some of the people who receive your property.
Who Needs an Estate Plan?
Many people don’t think that they are wealthy enough to need an estate plan until they stop and think about it. Then they are surprised at how much their estate is worth, and how much time, trouble and money they can save later by spending a little time and money now. All you really need to be a good candidate for an estate plan are:
- A moderate amount of property (a house, furniture, vehicles, and personal effects is more than enough)
- A desire that these assets go to specific people
- A desire that this transfer be accomplished as smoothly, inexpensively and with as little acrimony and disputes between your heirs as possible
- The time and energy to compile a thorough inventory of your property
- An experienced estate planner to translate your desires into legally enforceable plans
- Your signature on the documents to execute that plan
What the Benefits Are
The monetary advantages of a good estate plan are:
- Minimizing various taxes (estate, inheritance, income)
- Avoiding the need to have the estate probated, with its associated costs and delays in transferring the estate assets to the beneficiaries you have chosen)
A good estate plan also offers many non-monetary advantages, especially peace of mind. With the plan worked out while you are still alive and involved, you can inform your beneficiaries of your intentions well before your demise. In some cases that can cause hard feelings, in others gratitude. Whatever the reaction, it prevents surprises at your death, when your heirs are already dealing with that emotional trauma. It also minimizes the chances that disappointed heirs will try to legally attack your plans.
Estate Planning Tools
Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and several other kinds of financial accounts specifically state what happens to the funds involved when you die. Good planning can use these devices to keep funds out of your estate, distribute them directly to those you wish to have them, and keep them out of probate.
Apart from these assets, estate planning can entail use of one or more of the following tools:
- A formal will, which complies with the state’s legal requirements, stating what you want to happen to your remaining property, usually subject to probate and taxes
- Various kinds of trusts, particularly irrevocable trusts, which remove assets from your estate, avoiding estate taxes, inheritance taxes, and probate, and transfer assets into the control of a trustee to be used and distributed to beneficiaries according to the trust agreement
An experienced estate planner can match the tools to the assets in your estate and the specific plans you have for those assets.
Legal Estate Planning Assistance in Cape May and Atlantic Counties
The best estate plans require that the planner be totally aware of your desires, personal relationships, and assets. They must be experienced with the many laws that govern transfers of property and rights. At Barnes Law Group, LLC, our ability to communicate clearly and effectively ensures that we really understand your situation before drawing up an estate plan. We get to know our clients personally and are known for being responsive. We are a small firm which makes for a personalized experience, but with 20 years total estate planning experience, our estate plans are top notch.
Give us a call today to plan for tomorrow. Our offices are located in North Wildwood and Egg Harbor Township for your convenience.