Having an estate plan is absolutely essential for anyone in New Jersey that wants to make sure that his or her assets are distributed to the people and in the manner that he or she wants. One of the selling points for estate planning is the goal of keeping a family from having to go through probate in order to inherit those assets. However, in many cases, probate is not the dreadful experience that it is made out to be.
Every will has to be filed with the court and probated. The difference that estate planning makes is whether a person’s assets have to go through the probate process as well. For many estates, it is not necessary and may actually do more harm than good to move assets prior to death.
For many people, putting their assets into joint ownership with a family member may seem like a good way to avoid probate, but it could also cause the person that originally owned the asset to lose control over what happens to it. As far as trying to avoid estate taxes, the majority of people no longer has to worry about that issue since the exemption is so high. There are still legitimate reasons to avoid probate, but the average person in New Jersey may not need it.
Probate also has some advantages when dealing with creditors of the decedent and fighting family members. Creditors have only so long to file a claim against an estate before they are permanently barred from trying to collect the debt. The primary purpose of probate is to make sure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out. Having the court involved may keep family members from fighting both each other and the provisions of the will.
Source: LifeHealthPro, 6 reasons why probate isn’t that bad, Tom Nawrocki, Sept. 13, 2013