WILLS & ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY
South Jersey Will and Estate Planning Attorney
Do you have a Will? Do you have young children? Have you been wanting to call an attorney to have a Will prepared but just have not gotten around to it? Call estate planning attorney Jeffrey S. Walters, Esq. for an appointment and cross this off of your “to do” list once and for all.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning focuses on the distribution of your property after your death. It also addresses planning for your care if you become unable to manage your own affairs during your lifetime. Remember that proper estate planning is as much of a value to your loved ones as it is to you.
Your Estate Planning Objectives May Include:
Making sure your property is transferred to your intended beneficiaries
Making sure your children are taken care of financially
Dealing with “second family” situations, such as a second marriage where you have children from a prior marriage. It is extremely important to obtain professional estate planning to be sure that your wishes are fulfilled.
Naming a guardian for your children in case something happens to both you and your spouse at the same time
Choosing an executor for your estate
Reducing or eliminating federal estate taxes and New Jersey estate taxes
Appointing someone to manage your affairs if you become disabled and unable to do so
Expressing in advance what your wishes are for your medical care in the event that you are unable to communicate your wishes
As you see, your objectives can contain both emotional and financial elements. Estate planning helps you achieve your objectives. Call Mount Laurel Estate Planning attorney Jeffrey S. Walters, Esq. if you would like to discuss your objectives and the best way to accomplish them.
What Are Some Important Estate Planning Documents?
Last Will and Testament (usually called a “Will”)
A Will lets you dictate who will inherit your property after your death. You can also name a guardian for your minor children in case both you and your spouse die at the same time. You can also establish a Trust within your Will, which allows you to make sure that your children’s inheritance is safeguarded by a responsible person until your children are old enough to responsibly handle the money they inherit. Your Will also gives you the power to name an executor, who will gather your assets and distribute them according to your wishes. The executor should be someone who you trust, but who also will be able to handle the responsibilities involved. Without a valid Will, the New Jersey intestacy statute determines the beneficiaries of your estate, which may not be what you would have wished.
Power of Attorney
A “Durable Power of Attorney” is a necessary part of your estate planning. It allows you to choose a person to have authority to handle your financial affairs if you become mentally incapacitated or incompetent. Without a Durable Power of Attorney, a guardian will need to be appointed to handle your assets. The appointment of a guardian must be done by an application filed with the New Jersey Chancery Court, which is an expensive and lengthy process. This can be avoided simply by preparing a proper Durable Power of Attorney. Lastly, if you desire, you can specify that your Durable Power of Attorney only take effect if and when you become incapacitated or incompetent. Until such time, you retain complete control.
Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney
Most people want to express in writing their wishes with respect to medical care and artificial life support in the event that they are unable to communicate or take part in their health care decisions. A Living Will allows you to participate in decisions regarding your health care. In addition, since it is not possible for one to express in writing their wishes under every possible condition or situation, you may also appoint someone to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. After all, a piece of paper can only tell a physician or your family so much about what your wishes are. The person you appoint can ensure that your wishes as expressed on paper are carried out, both in the spirit of your Living Will and in accordance with the wishes you might have expressed verbally to that person. Keep in mind that a Living Will is as much a benefit for your loved ones as it is for you. Your loved ones will be comforted in knowing that they are following the wishes that you expressed yourself and directed them to follow.
The Importance of Estate Planning
It is important to take steps to accomplish your estate planning goals. It is also important to remember not to lose sight of your real wishes in achieving your goals. For example, you should not take simplistic steps to avoid probate if such steps might result in your assets falling into the hands of someone you do not want or to someone too young or immature to handle them. If you have children from a prior marriage, that is a particularly sensitive situation that requires the expertise of an experienced estate planning attorney to address in a way that fulfills your wishes. Also remember that each person’s situation is different. Please do not try to prepare your own Will “online” or copy it from a form book. You may never know whether your homemade document works or fails until it is too late. There are also legal formalities in executing estate planning documents. Be sure to consult a qualified estate planning attorney, who knows what estate planning tools are available and how they can be custom designed for you.
To discuss preparing your Will and Estate Planning documents, call estate planning attorney Jeffrey S. Walters, Esq. for a consultation.