If you are like many other New Jersey residents, it is likely that you have recently made a list of some new year's resolutions for this year. People like to start out a year with good intentions and high hopes for what they can accomplish in next 12 months. Many resolutions involve being better with money, taking care of family members and being proactive. For those people who have included these things on their list this year, it may be a good idea to start thinking about putting together an estate plan.
One of the primary aspects of an estate plan is establishing trusts. Depending on the type of trust that is put in place, it can serve a number of different functions that can protect a person's assets and make sure that they are managed properly. Without an effective trust in place, a person's finances, properties and investments could be put in jeopardy.
For example, an 86-year-old man did not have a revocable living trust in place when he fell ill and was admitted to the hospital. While he was sick, his children started fighting over who was in charge of their father's bills, bank accounts and other pieces of his estate. Eventually, the courts jumped in and made their own decisions, including selling the man's house. But the man made a full recovery and it turned out that he never needed any of this intervention.
Sadly, the damage was already done to his estate.
In order to avoid these types of disputes and courtroom nightmares, people can take action to establish a revocable living trust to include in an estate plan. These trusts can grant temporary power to a specific person who can make decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated. Having a trust in place can provide people with specific instructions for who should be in charge of certain matters, which is generally greatly appreciated. Trusts can also serve as a way to avoid probate court, high fees and taxes in many cases.
Estate plans can be confusing and overwhelming. However, with legal support and resources to help guide you through the process, it can be something that you (and your family) will be very glad to have one day.
Source: Newswire, "Man Without a Living Trust Told He's Good as Dead," Rick Porter, Jan. 2, 2014