Certified New Jersey Elder Law Attorneys

McHugh & Macri
Certified Elder Law Attorneys Serving New Jersey Residents since 1978.
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Steps to an effective estate plan

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

While most adults realize that having an estate plan is important, the majority of people do not have estate plans in place, according to a recent survey. However, neglecting estate planning can cause significant problems, such as having one's estate held at the mercy of state laws that determine who receives a person's assets and how their assets should be divided. Individuals in New Jersey can take certain steps to ensure that they have a solid estate plan in place.

One of the first steps that they must take is to get an accurate valuation of their assets. From there, they can decide who they want to provide these assets to, when the time comes. They may prefer a probate transfer, such as bequeathing an asset during the probate process through the execution of a will. In other cases, a trust may provide them with more structure to control how assets or income get passed down to a specified beneficiary. Additionally, each separate account, such as bank accounts, life insurance policies or retirement accounts all allow a person to designate a beneficiary, and this designation takes precedence over any contradictory information included in a will.

Another crucial step is to determine whether a person will likely owe estate taxes upon his death. Based on current laws, estate tax is incurred on probate estates that exceed $5.25 million in value. Certain steps may be taken to avoid estate taxes or mitigate them that involve more complex estate-planning tools.

New Jersey estate planning attorneys help individuals develop estate plans that suit their needs. They may draft wills, health care proxies, powers of attorney or revocable living trusts. They may also make changes to a person's estate plan when situations arise that warrant these changes.

Source: Northwest Herald, "Five steps to take in devising an estate plan", Patrick S. O’Connor, July 06, 2013

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