Wills and Estate Planning
Many clients start with the phrase “I just need a simple will.” Let us discuss your Last Will & Testament, the need for a Durable Power of Attorney, and the advantages to having an Advance Directive for Heath Care (Living Will) with you.
Learn the significance and necessity of each document when putting your legal matters in order. Our firm has helped our clients address these issues and we are ready to help you now.
Last Will and Testament
Individuals have the ability to provide written directions as to how they wish to have his/her personal matters handled after their death. These matters can include the distribution of their wealth, making charitable gifts, creating one or more trusts, and/or the appointment of a guardian for their minor children. Many clients start with the notion that they “just need a simple will,” and in many cases that is correct. However, before reaching that conclusion it is important that the client understand what a Will can accomplish and what it can’t control. As examples: (a) the proceeds of a life insurance policy or an IRA account will pass to the beneficiaries named in the insurance policy or the IRA account, not necessarily the beneficiaries named in a Will, (b) the effort to eliminate a spouse as a beneficiary may be controlled by the Elective Share provisions of the New Jersey Statutes, or (c) the ability to name a guardian for a child under the age of 18, while naming a separate individual to serve as Trustee of that child’s finances until a later age.
Wills must be tailored to express the wishes of the individual client, after a thorough discussion of the client’s goals, the relevant law (including tax consequences), and a review of the various approaches to meeting the client’s goals. Following a death, the Last Will and Testament becomes the final expression of the deceased’s instructions in handling his/her affairs. It is important that the language contained in the Will be sufficiently specific to ensure that the individual’s wishes are carried out in the manner that was intended.
Advanced Directive for Health Care (Living Wills)
A Living Will often serves three purposes:
(a) It enables the client to provide written instructions as to how he/she wishes to be treated under certain medical circumstances,
(b) It enables the client to identify his/her Health Care Representative – the individual(s) that will be responsible for insuring that the medical staff will follow those instructions, and
(c) It allows the Health Care Representative to rely upon those instructions as an accurate expression of the client’s wishes.
General Durable Power of Attorney
Many clients believe that when they sign a Last Will and Testament they have appointed someone to take care of their affairs. However, an Administrator/Executor is only granted these power following a death of that client. There are many instances where a client needs someone to take care of his/her affairs during their lifetime. This is accomplished by executing a Power of Attorney that permits the designated person (attorney in fact) to exercise or perform any act, power, duty, right or obligation as the authorized agent of the client.
Clients often ask “why do I need that,” believing themselves perfectly capable of handling their own affairs without allowing someone else to sign their name for them. In part, the answer is that on the day that a client can no longer competently handle his/her affairs, it is often too late to sign a Power of Attorney. Typically a client names his/her spouse or a child, as the authorized Agent. The individual granting the power of attorney is actually authorizing his/her Agent to sign the name of the person granting the power. Great care must be given when making this selection.
Personal Service To Meet Your Personal Needs
Let us discuss your Last Will & Testament, the need for a Durable Power of Attorney, and the advantages to having an Advance Directive for Health Care (Living Will) with you. Learn the significance and necessity of each document when putting your legal matters in order. Our firm has helped our clients throughout Monmouth County, Middlesex County and Ocean County address these issues and we are ready to help you now. Let us help you preserve the assets you have worked to acquire and to make sure that your wishes are respected and carried out. Call us today for an appointment.
This information is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice without consulting with a licensed attorney. This is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. The law is subject to frequent changes and varies from one jurisdiction to another. (c) 2021