Without proactive planning, you are relying on the New Jersey legislature to determine how your assets pass, to whom they pass, and when they pass. In addition to having potentially undesired results, this is perhaps the most costly and time-consuming means of passing your assets to your loved ones.
2. Is your will or trust more than 3 years old?
Even assuming that there have been no family or financial changes since your plan was last reviewed, there have been major tax law changes in 1997 and in 2001. An out-of-date estate plan is perhaps worse than no estate plan at all. Our experience is that people view estate planning as an event rather than a process. Keeping your plan current is vital to achieving the goals you set out to accomplish.
3. Are all of your heirs over the age of 18 and financially responsible?
Under New Jersey law, children inherit property no later than age 18 without restriction. Proper planning is crucial to prevent an heir from squandering his or her inheritance, or worse, from causing harm to himself or herself.
4. Does your current plan provide your heirs with asset protection, divorce protection, and lawsuit protection?
The most common means of providing for heirs is with outright distributions. By doing so, however, the inheritance becomes subject to the creditors of your heirs.
5. Is this your first marriage?
Second or subsequent marriages present unique planning issues, particularly if both spouses have children from a prior marriage. Proper planning is critical to prevent undesired results.
If you’ve answered “No” or “Don’t Know” to any one of these questions (or “Yes” to No. 5), you need to contact an estate planning lawyer to schedule a time to meet and discuss your responses, the consequences of not taking action, and potential solutions to these and other issues.
For almost a decade,Elder Lawyer Queens has been bringing her estate planning experience to help families pass on their wealth in the most tax-efficient manner possible.