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Flemington NJ Estate Planning Law Blog

Estate planning mistakes to fix right away

Estate planning is an important matter for all adults in New Jersey. While most people associate the need for an estate plan with being older, a recent survey by Wells Fargo shows that around 40 percent of Americans who are 60 or older haven't taken the time to create an estate plan. This is troubling because not having an estate plan leaves loved ones unprepared for when the person passes away.

Instead of leaving behind a huge mess, creating an estate can help to make things much easier for the surviving family members. Once the plan is made, however, the work isn't done. One of the biggest problems is that estate owners often neglect to tell anyone about their plans. Around 72 percent of older Americans say that their finances are private. However, this doesn't mean that they shouldn't let their loved ones know the plans that they've drawn up. It is possible to let others know what to expect without delving deep into finances.

More DWI Charges Are Being Dismissed In New Jersey

If you think there is no way to fight a drunk driving charge, it is time to think again.

While New Jersey has had a strong DWI conviction rate in the past, that rate is going down. A decade ago, about 85 percent of the drivers arrested for drunk driving ended up being convicted. That rate fell to 71 percent last year. Meanwhile, the rate of DWI dismissals has risen to 24 percent. In other words, an arrest does not by any means guarantee a conviction for DWI in New Jersey.

About using trusts

There are many different types of trusts New Jersey residents can use to protect their financial legacy and limit how much their estate may be taxed. However, it is important that in addition to choosing the right type of trust, they also designate the right person to administer the trusts.

Trusts can be used as safeguards against taxes so that one's heirs are not overly burdened with tax issues when they receive their inheritances. A trust can be used to hold tax-friendly financial assets for many years, including IRAs, life insurance policies and annuities, allowing those assets to grow while taxes are deferred or without being taxed at all. The exact type of tax treatment these assets receive will depend on the type of asset. For example, the distributions from Roth IRAs are tax-free for both the owner and the beneficiary.

The duties of a will executor

People in New Jersey who have been appointed executor of a will or who have been asked by a loved one to act as executor might wonder what responsibilities are involved. An executor's job involves locating assets, paying bills and distributing assets to beneficiaries based on a person's will.

Although executors can be paid for their services, those who are close family members, such as a spouse, a child or a parent, usually do not request compensation. However, the executor may use money from the estate for paying creditors and expenses such as the upkeep of a home. The executor might also need to pay taxes on the estate and make court appearances dealing with the estate. If the executor is paid as well, a probate court will decide on the amount based on state law and the complexity of the role.

The implications of anger

It can all happen in what seems a few seconds. A disagreement turns into an altercation, and you strike someone. Or, you didn't plan on yelling at the other person, but the situation escalated out of control.

If you feel that managing your anger is a challenge for you, here are some tips to calm down and take on a healthier perspective.

Simple or aggravated? The charge depends on the bodily damage

Assault occurs when a person either injures or attempts to cause injury to another person. New Jersey categorizes assault into two charges, simple or aggravated. Factors differentiating between the two charges include the seriousness of the bodily damage to the victim and whether or not a weapon was used.

Creating the right estate plan

People in New Jersey should create an estate planning checklist to ensure that they have everything they need in their estate plan. While estate planning provides individuals the opportunity to get ready for the unavoidable, it also allows them to dictate what should happen to their financial assets after they die. If their estate plan is not structured as it should be, surviving loved ones may encounter difficulties with the estate.

A will is an important component of an estate plan. Individuals are able to designate certain persons or organizations to receive their assets. Executors, or someone who will have the legal responsibility for handling the taxes and debts for the estate and the distribution of assets, should also be designated. However, the will is far from the only document needed for an estate plan.

Distracted driving remains top concern on the road

You probably don't have to think hard to remember the last time you saw someone using their cellphone while driving. More specifically, you might remember how it affected their driving ability. Maybe they were driving slowly, stopped just short or drifted closely to the center line.

All too frequently, these actions lead to an accident that can result in a serious injury to you and your passengers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving resulted in nearly 400,000 injuries and 3,500 deaths in 2015. To get a better understanding of why this is such a concern, let's look at New Jersey's distracted driving laws and the rights of drivers who are victims of crashes.

Errors to avoid with a living trust

When people in New Jersey are creating an estate plan, they may want to use a living trust. A living trust allows a person to keep control of assets after placing them in the trust. Married people may place assets in a trust and name one another as co-trustees. With a trust, assets do not go through the public process of probate and can be distributed to beneficiaries without delay.

However, there are several common errors that people should be aware of. One of those errors is failing to fund the trust. Once the trust is created, legal titles must be changed so that they belong to the trust. This can mean changing the name on deeds and reregistering vehicle titles. Financial institutions may have their own processes for transferring an account into a trust.

Using trusts for adult children

One of the estate planning mistakes that many New Jersey residents make is not using a trust to hold assets for their adult children. Trusts can be particularly helpful if an adult child has unhealthy spending habits.

Assets that are left outright to adult children can be squandered if left in the hands of adults who do not have the financial maturity needed to handle money properly. The adult children may see the wisdom of having a financial advisor help them manage the wealth they receive. However, there's no guarantee that the beneficiaries will make wise choices when choosing someone. To ensure that the wealth will continue to grow and last for years to come, it may be prudent to have the financial assets properly managed through a trust.

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Lanza & Lanza LLP
5 Main Street
Flemington, NJ 08822

Phone: 908-905-0183
Fax: 908-782-4012
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