Estate Planning For Every Family
“I don’t need an estate plan. I’m not rich.” If we’ve heard this once, we’ve heard it a hundred times. There is a widespread belief that only wealthy people need to worry about end of life planning, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Proper estate planning is about more than avoiding estate taxes. A comprehensive plan will ensure your wishes are respected if you can no longer make healthcare decisions for yourself. It will take the weight off your loved ones’ shoulders when they realize you have outlined your funeral and burial plans. And it can protect your loved ones long after you are gone.
At Dalena & Bosch, we craft custom estate plans that fit the needs of every New Jersey family, and assist families with the estate administration and probate process.
The Estate Plan You Didn’t Know You Had
As a New Jersey residents, our clients already have an estate plan in place, even if they have never talked to a lawyer about their end of life goals. There are state laws that dictate what happens when someone dies “intestate,” which is the legal term for without a will.
These laws determine who takes custody of children, who inherits assets, what happens to debts, and who is tasked with taking over the estate and sorting everything out if there are no legal documents outlining specific plans and desires. Creating a custom estate plan allows the client to take control of his or her legacy and make decisions for himself or herself.
What is in an Estate Plan?
Fifty years ago, the only estate planning document you needed was a will. Today, we recommend our clients get a set of documents that will work together to ensure their healthcare and financial preferences are clear before and after their death.
The pre-death documents we recommend every New Jersey resident over the age of 18 fill out are a general durable power of attorney and a living will.
Power of attorney documents allow you to pick someone to make decisions and act on your behalf if you are temporarily or permanently unable to make them for yourself.
A living will provides information about your wishes in specific situations. For example, you can say whether or not you would like to be placed on life support or a respirator. You can be as specific or general as you would like in your living will, which can really ease the mind of person you have picked to make decisions on your behalf.
Although they have similar names, living wills and wills serve very different purposes. As discussed above, living wills protect you while you are alive. A will, on the other hand, is just a piece of paper until after you have passed.
Your will names an executor who will carry out your wishes after you are gone. The person you pick should be someone you can trust and depend on since they will be acting in your place.
The will is where you outline basic financial directives, and do things like leave specific items to specific people. For parents of minor children, it is the most important estate planning document because it is where you name someone to serve as guardian of your children should the unthinkable happen.
Many clients also like to include a document outlining their funeral plans and burial wishes in their estate plan. People used to put this information in their will, but wills are often not read until after the family has said their goodbyes. Putting it in a separate document, and letting your close family members know such a document exists is important if you have specific ideas about what your funeral should be like and where and how you would like to be laid to rest.
Estate Planning After Divorce
Many of our firm’s estate planning clients are recent divorcees. It is incredibly important to update your estate plan post-divorce so your ex does not get a windfall when you die, or have the power to make financial or health care decisions on your behalf. If you have minor children, you will also need to plan for what you would prefer happen if you pass away and your ex takes full custody of your children. Don’t put off this important post-divorce task.
Estate Administration & Probate
If you have been named in a will, or by a judge, as an estate administrator or executor, and you need help navigating the probate and estate administration process, we are here to help. We have helped many families in Morris County and beyond carry out their loved ones’ last requests.
Our firm has helped people increase and decrease child support and spousal support payments by requesting modifications and appealing unfair decisions. We have also gotten the courts to okay modifications to child visitation agreements, and approve relocations both inside and outside the state of New Jersey.
Holding Your Hand When You Need It Most
Planning for the end of your life is not an easy task. Neither is taking carrying out a loved one’s last requests. Both tasks are emotionally draining and require a lot of tedious paperwork. While we don’t claim that working with our firm will make either process a joy, we can promise that we will be there with you every step of the way.
We take our firm’s motto, “Holding your hand when you need it most,” very seriously. We can be your confidant and guide through the estate planning or probate process, and we will literally hold your hand if that’s what it takes to see you through. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.