Protect and safeguard your assets and possessions during your lifetime and for your loved ones after you’ve passed-on.
Effective Estate Planning looks at all of the issues, from death and disability to Medicaid and nursing home care. We design your estate plan to accomplish your unique needs, goals, and future wishes. We customize individual types of protections for you and your family, so that you can protect yourself, your spouse, your children, and your assets through the use of trusts, wills and other legal documents. Some of these include creating documents regarding health care proxies, powers of attorney, living wills, advanced directives, and much more.
Last Will and Testament
Even basic estate planning, such as through a Last Will and Testament is a necessary and valuable tool for every person, regardless of income, socioeconomic status, or net worth. In the absence of a Will, your family might wait months or up to a year to inherit your assets, and such situations often set up feuds and mistrust within families. In the absence of a Will, it's almost guaranteed that a family will face major disagreements and contentions by other family members, possibly including relatives you've not seen in years who've come to "collect" what they believe is rightfully theirs. These types of situations are not only heartbreaking and painful, but can also lead to years of costly litigation.
Having a signed and notarized Will carefully crafted by experienced attorneys enables you to protect your loved ones from the moment you pass, enabling your family to fall back on stability and certainty rather than confusion and frustration. The headaches and difficulties your family would face without a Will are all but erased in the presence of a meticulously-executed Will.
While there are options available online to purchase Will "templates" for a reduced cost, we strongly suggest you have a Will created for you specifically, as opposed to a Will generated through a website template. While a basic Will might provide a benefit over no Will at all, a Will generated from the Internet might not cover all your bases or tie up all loose ends, and there's no one by your side to look over it for you or answer any questions. Your life certainly isn't a generic one-size-fits-all lifestyle -- neither should your Will and estate plan.
Compared to these web-based templates, our costs are somewhat more expensive but our rates are highly competitive. Again, a Will is more likely to properly safeguard your assets when tailored to you specifically by an Attorney you can communicate your concerns and needs with rather than generic software.
Depending on your situation, you may wish to have other safeguards added, from Trusts to Advance Directives or Living Wills, and more. If you're looking to form a Trust, read below for more information.
As a leading New Jersey law firm for Estate Planning, Simon Law Group offers 100% Free/No-Cost Consultation.
Wills & Estates
A Will protects your most important assets and your family. It is your wishes put on paper. You decide what legacy you leave behind. Without one, the courts, not you, decide what happens to your assets. They can even decide what happens to your children.
A Will should be reviewed every five years for any potential changes within your family or financial situation.
Appointing an Executor
An Executor is someone named in a Will or appointed by the Court who is given the legal responsibility to take care of distributing the assets of the estate. This person should be an individual you trust to carry out your wishes.
A Living Will (Advanced Directive) is a document you sign when you are healthy and have all your faculties. This document advises what measures, if any, you would like to be taken to prolong your life for your family and medical care professionals when you can no longer speak for yourself if you become terminally ill or incapacitated. It is recommended that each individual has a Living Will so that your family knows and understands your wishes. We recommend naming at least one backup agent in case your first agent can no longer serve. It should be understood a Living Will is not a health care power of attorney which would give an agent the power to make all medical decisions and access to medical information.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that authorizes someone else (the agent) to act on your (the principal) behalf should you not be able to do so. The agent can have broad legal authority or limited authority to make legal decisions about the principal's property and finances. The POA is frequently used in the event of a principal's illness or disability, or when the principal can't be present to sign necessary legal documents or complete financial transactions. Health care and financial powers of attorney can make life easier for you and your family.
A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries. Since trusts usually avoid probate, your beneficiaries may gain access to these assets more quickly than assets that are transferred using a Will. Additionally, if it is an irrevocable trust, it may not be considered part of the taxable estate, so fewer taxes may be due upon your death. Assets in a trust may also be able to pass outside of probate, saving time, court fees, and potentially reducing estate taxes as well.
A Revocable Trust Also known as a living trust, a revocable trust can help assets pass outside of probate, yet allows you to retain control of the assets during your (the grantor’s) lifetime. It is flexible and can be dissolved at any time, should your circumstances or intentions change. A revocable trust typically becomes irrevocable upon the death of the grantor. You can name yourself trustee (or co-trustee) and retain ownership and control over the trust, its terms and assets during your lifetime, but make provisions for a successor trustee to manage them in the event of your incapacity or death. It also means that during your lifetime, it is treated like any other asset you own.
An Irrevocable Trust typically transfers your assets out of your (the grantor’s) estate and possibly out of the reach of estate taxes and probate, but cannot be changed by the grantor after it has been executed. Therefore, once you create the trust, you will lose control over the assets and you cannot change any terms or decide to dissolve the trust.
An irrevocable trust is commonly preferred over a revocable trust if your ultimate aim is to reduce the amount subject to estate taxes by effectively removing the trust assets from your estate. Also, since the assets have been transferred to the trust, you are relieved of the tax liability on the income generated by the trust assets (although distributions will typically have income tax). It may also be protected in the event of a legal judgment against you.
Not to be confused with Medicare, Medicaid is a federal program that provides health coverage for people with limited assets and income. People who have excess assets and income often wish to start the process of protecting their assets so that if and when the time comes that they require nursing home care, they will be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits Medicaid planning can also be done even if your loved one is already in or is about to enter a skilled nursing facility. However, the earlier you begin your planning, the more options you will have to protect your assets and your loved ones.
Special Needs & Supplemental Needs
Assets left to disabled beneficiaries can disqualify them from benefits received from state and federal entitlement programs (such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income).
The creation of Supplemental Needs Trusts (SNTs) which enable you to leave any amount of money to loved ones with special needs without affecting their eligibility for state and federal benefits. It is important that the money never be paid directly to the beneficiary, as that will cause a reduction of SSI benefits or a total loss of Medicaid benefits. It is important to carefully choose the right trustee and to consider appointing a trust protector should the laws change.
A guardian is a person chosen or appointed to effect legal decisions for another who is unable to make those choices on their own. Guardianship is frequently over a minor child or an individual who is incapacitated through disability or age. Parents are considered the “natural guardians” of special needs children with the right to make all decisions for them. However, such rights do not permit parents to have access to or control over their children’s assets (i.e., proceeds from a lawsuit or gifts from family members). In addition, when children turn eighteen, parents lose their rights as natural guardians and the ability to make health care and other life decisions.
Please feel free to contact us for more information by calling (800) 709-1131
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