In New Jersey, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you truly want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for truly implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these intentions.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your opinion on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such arrangements for you, if you are unable.
A knowledgeable estate planner in New Jersey may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Moreover, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in New Jersey
Estate plans in New Jersey almost always have these features:
Will: A will is a written instrument stating what you want to be done with your assets after you die. There are many issues that can come up in the drafting of a will. However, because the will doesn't have any legal or practical effect until after the person who made it died, they can't exactly correct these problems when they become apparent. Therefore, quality drafting, usually with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, is essential.
Power of Attorney: This is a legal document in which you give some other person (typically a family member) the ability to make decisions (often related to money or healthcare) on your behalf if you become incapable of doing so.
Funeral Arrangements: If you have any opinion whatsoever on how your mortal remains should be handled, you should make it clear to your family, in writing. You should additionally make the necessary arrangements with a funeral home, in advance. If possible, you should try to pay in advance for your funeral expenses, to save your survivors the additional burden of planning and paying for a funeral. These arrangements should be laid out somewhere other than in your will, because a will typically isn't read for days or weeks after the testator's death, by which point it is usually too late.
Do I Need a New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney?
To most people, these issues are necessary to their peace of mind during life. Accordingly, it's very important to make them with the help of a knowledgeable New Jersey attorney, to make sure that they have the best possible chance of being implemented.
Interesting Facts About New Jersey
New Jersey is located in the northeastern quarter of the United States and has a population of well over 8 million people. It is the most densely populated of all the 50 states and is listed as the third wealthiest according to median household income.
New Jersey's legal system revolves around its three basic levels of courts- the Municipal Courts, Superior Courts, and the New Jersey Supreme Court. Unlike most states, New Jersey does not have an intermediate court district for appeals; instead, the Superior Court operates its own Appellate Division that processes appeals. There is also a Tax Court system with limited jurisdiction to settle tax disputes.
The judiciary of New Jersey is also unique in that it still has separate courts for law and equity. Also, the Superior Court system is further divided into divisions of Law and Chancery at the trial level. These features allow the state to process a variety of different claims in an efficient manner. New Jersey has also produced many major figures in U.S. jurisprudence, including U.S. Supreme Court Justices William Brennan, Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito.
Lawyers in New Jersey have experience in guiding clients through the state's court system. Most New Jersey lawyers begin by filing claims at the Superior Court level. Attorneys are available to provide legal advice and representation in New Jersey courts.