One of the most important things an individual can do for his or herself is create an estate plan. Of course, no one wants to think about what happens when he or she passes, but it is important to be prepared so that your estate passes the way you want, and that you protect and make things easier for your family and/or friends. A will allows an individual to dictate exactly what the future of his or her estate will be, including naming a guardian for minor children, specifying beneficiaries, setting up any trusts that may be desired or necessary (particularly for minors, the disabled, those divorcing, or who have creditor issues), and accomplishing any tax planning. This may bring a great deal of peace of mind to individuals, knowing that everything they have worked so hard for over the years will pass as they desire, providing for their family, friends and charities, and protecting those who should not inherit outright, as well as avoiding negative tax implications. If a person dies without a will, they are considered “intestate” and their assets will be distributed per New Jersey’s line of succession. If the individual has:
- Spouse but no children or parents, the spouse inherits all assets
- Children but no spouse, the children inherit all assets
- Spouse and children with that spouse, the spouse inherits everything
- Spouse and children from another person, the spouse gets the first 25% and half of the balance, and the children get everything else
- Spouse and parents but no children, the spouse inherits the first 25% and 75% of the balance, and the parents inherit all remaining intestate property
- Siblings but no spouse, children, or parents, the siblings inherit everything
If you are beginning to think about creating an estate plan, it is important to contact an experienced wills, trusts, and estates attorney who can help you protect your future.
If you require strong legal representation from an experienced New Jersey wills, trusts, and estates attorney, contact Margaret M. Mahon, Esq. LLC today to schedule a consultation.