Certified New Jersey Elder Law Attorneys

McHugh & Macri
Certified Elder Law Attorneys Serving New Jersey Residents since 1978.
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New Jersey probate savings tips

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

Many states have complicated and expensive probate process that can drag on for months. However, in New Jersey, the process is fairly simple and inexpensive, so people may wonder if it's worth the expense of setting up trusts in an attempt to avoid the probate process.

Avoiding the probate process doesn't, in general, free a family from estate taxes. Even if property is owned by a revocable living trust, any required taxes must be paid, and tax returns must be filed. However, a revocable living trust can offer other benefits outside of avoiding probate. It is advisable to use this type of trust for elderly clients, to protect privacy, or avoid ancillary probate in the case of ownership of out-of-state property.

There is also the option of using a joint revocable trust. This allows all assets to be placed in a single account using either social security number. The advantage of this is that it's easy to keep both trusts balanced. Plus, it's allowable to place some assets into credit shelters or a marital trust. For example, it would be possible to continue to keep the house in a joint trust rather than splitting it between two trusts or keeping the house in just one spouse's trust.

Estate planning may be a confusing process; this is especially true for the elderly. It may be beneficial to consult with an elder attorney who may be able to offer suggestions on the best way to structure an estate. This advice may offer the opportunity to avoid some taxes and make sure that property and other assets go to the intended family members.

Source: New Jersey On-Line, "Biz Brain: Estate tax savings strategies", Karin Price Mueller, August 18, 2013

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