Frequently Asked Questions about Estate Planning

Answering questions About Estate Planning

Answers from an experienced attorney in Red Bank

Estate planning can be an intimidating process. Nobody likes to think about dying. Our focus is to find creative ways to protect you while you are alive while also protecting your family after you are gone. With careful planning, we can save you time and money and reduce stress. We are pleased to be able to answer all of your estate planning questions. Below are a few of some of the most common concerns:

  • Is it necessary for a lawyer to draft my will?
  • What should I do about updating or changing my will?
  • When is the will admitted to probate?
  • What effect does a will have on real estate owned jointly?
  • What happens if I die without a will?
  • When should an estate plan be reviewed?

Obtain answers to all of your estate planning questions today at a free consultation

Margaret M. Mahon, Esq., LLC is conveniently located in Red Bank, New Jersey. Our office provides free parking and flexible hours upon request. If you are unable to travel to our office, we can come to you. Contact Margaret M. Mahon, Esq. LLC today.

Is it necessary for a lawyer to draft my will?

It is possible to draft a will without the assistance of a lawyer. However, many personally drafted wills may be incomplete and, therefore, invalid under New Jersey state law.  Moreover, there are often implications that individuals inexperienced with this type of law do not contemplate in drafting a Will and may unwittingly cause problems that are in conflict with their intentions. With so much at stake, it is better not to take the risk. An attorney familiar with New Jersey state laws can draft a will that is valid and enforceable under the law.

What should I do about updating or changing my will?

If you have an existing will that no longer reflects your wishes or does not provide for your current life circumstances, it is important to have an estate planning attorney update your will. An amendment to the current will can be drafted or you may create an entirely new will. Changes to a will might be advisable in case of marriage, birth or death of a beneficiary, remarriage, new appointment of a guardian for your children or the purchase or sale of a business.

When is the will admitted to probate?

Each state has different requirements regarding when a will can be admitted to probate. Under New Jersey law, a probate action cannot begin until 10 full days have passed after the date of death.

What effect does a will have on real estate owned jointly?

Property held jointly by two or more individuals is held in equal, undivided shares.  If it is owned as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship (such as with a husband and wife), when one joint owner dies, that share of the real property automatically becomes the property of the surviving joint tenant(s). Thus, jointly-held real estate does not pass according to a will but passes automatically by operation of law.  If the property is owned by Joint Tenants without the survivorship right, the decedent’s share will pass by the terms of the Will or by the laws of intestacy.

What happens if I die without a will?

If you die without creating a will in New Jersey, the probate court will appoint an administrator (personal representative) to manage the administration of your estate according to New Jersey law.  An application must be made to the Surrogate’s Court to accomplish this and a bond must be posted.  The estate assets will pass to your next-of-kin based upon the laws of intestacy, with certain relatives, such as a spouse and children, being given priority.

When should an estate plan be reviewed?

It is important to review wills, trusts, advance healthcare directives, powers of attorney and other estate planning documents regularly. This is the only way to verify that they still reflect your wishes. There is no set rule for how often you should review your estate plan, but a quick review each year and a more thorough review every five years is a good guideline to follow. You should also determine if an update to your estate plan is needed after any major life events.

Should I consider my pets when preparing my will or in the event of disability?

Pets are a part of our families, often not considered in estate planning.  There are a variety of steps you may take to assure that your pets will be cared for.