At Mariano & Coiro, P.C. we have been handling estate planning for New Jerseyans for almost 40 years, and we know that your wishes for your legacy are unique. You may want to provide for your family, support a good cause or protect the wealth you have built during your lifetime. Thankfully, there are a variety of tools that you can consider when creating an estate plan, allowing you to create a plan that reflects those goals. Wondering what elements might you consider for your estate plan? Learn more here, and call us at 732-249-7300 if you’re ready to discuss creating a plan of your own.
Last Will and Testament
Many people think first and foremost of a will when they think of estate planning, and yes, a Will is central to any estate plan. When you pass away, this document outlines who will receive your money and possessions. A Will also allows you to name the Executor to carry out your wishes; a guardian for minor or special needs children; and, if necessary, a Trustee to mange the money and property left to minors . If your estate plan includes a Will as its primary element, your estate will need to go through probate, which is a process by which the court examines the will and its contents to declare same valid under the law. This will be necessary even if your will clearly outlines where your assets should go, and your Executor will need to hire an attorney to help them.
A trust is a legal entity that holds possessions for a beneficiary, with ownership of those possessions passing to the trust rather than staying with the person setting up this arrangement. Depending on the type of trust you choose, you may be able to provide for charitable causes, avoid probate or set aside money for a loved one’s education. For loved ones with special needs, a trust may also provide for them while preserving their eligibility for and access to necessary government benefits.
One of the benefits of a trust is that it can help your heir(s) avoid probate. By placing your assets in a trust, you can bypass probate and in some cases protect your assets from other consequences like certain taxes. An attorney can advise you if a trust is necessary and how it may benefit you in your own situation.
Financial power of attorney
While a will or trust addresses your money and possessions after you pass away, a properly prepared General Durable Power of Attorney designates an “Attorney-In-Fact” and outlines a plan for managing your assets if illness or injury leaves you unable to manage them yourself. This document allows you to name someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. Depending on the situation, that person may pay bills, make sales, deposit money in your bank account and make other financial transactions.
A financial power of attorney is vital to any complete estate plan. Most people do not anticipate accidents, yet they are common and can leave you with health issues and without the ability to manage your own finances, potentially leaving you or your heir(s) with a mess to untangle later on. In fact, not having a proper power of attorney in place could force your loved ones to spend significant time and money to obtain court approval to act on your behalf.
Power of attorney for health care and other documents
Just as you can establish a power of attorney for financial decisions, you can also create a power of attorney to name an agent to make decisions about your health care. This allows them to choose the treatments you receive, the doctors providing for you and other important decisions. You can also outline your wishes for care in other documents; for example, a living will allows you to define whether you want to be resuscitated or receive life-prolonging care.
Speak with an attorney to discuss your own situation
Every situation is unique. Careful consideration of these different estate planning tools allows you to create a plan that reflects your needs today, and regular review ensures that your plan evolves according to your life changes. To discuss your situation with a seasoned estate planning attorney, contact Mariano & Coiro, P.C. today by email or phone at 732-249-7300.