Certified New Jersey Elder Law Attorneys

McHugh & Macri
Certified Elder Law Attorneys Serving New Jersey Residents since 1978.
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Estate planning may mean more than a will

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

Those thinking of estate planning in New Jersey may be most familiar with wills; however, other documents can play key roles in the process. It is important to prepare for the worst possible situations, including costly, inconvenient and lengthy legal procedures for those who become incapacitated. Filing the proper legal documents ahead of time can save people thousands of dollars.

Dying intestate means dying without a will, and the state decides how such an individual's assets will be distributed. A will may include everything other documents do not and assets for whom no beneficiaries are named. Wills can also express who should take care of one's children if neither of the parents are surviving.

Another document to be considered is the living trust, which becomes active only after an individual passes away. This document can help beneficiaries retain social security benefits, as well as protect them from creditors or direct trustees to manage money for an adult child. Living trusts can help avoid the probate process as well as offer privacy since probate opens a will to the public. Incapacity documents such as advanced medical directives, or living wills, durable financial powers of attorney and HIPAA releases designate individuals to act on the behalves of those who are no longer able to make decisions on their own. For example, a living will specifies if an individual wishes to be removed from life support or donate organs.

The estate planning process may be confusing to some; however, an attorney who is familiar with New Jersey elder law may be able to assist those who wish to get their affairs in order before they die.

Source: Fox Business, "Documents that should be part of everyone's estate plans", Andrea Murad, September 04, 2013

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