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100 South Jefferson Road, Suite 200 Whippany | 

Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

Estate Planning Attorneys Morris County, NJ

Securing the Financial Future of Clients across Morristown, Madison, Chester, Chatham, Mendham, Harding, Morris Township, Mount Olive, and Northern New Jersey

Planning for the future is an essential component of just about everything we do, and this is especially true when it comes to Estate Planning. Without a well-crafted and legally sound plan for your estate in place, you run the risk of forfeiting much that you have worked so hard to achieve, both in terms of tax penalties as well as the directed allocation of your assets.

However, as important as estate planning documents like Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney, and Advanced Healthcare directives are, many people put off actually addressing these issues until it is too late. Often, individuals are hesitant to address this particular matter due to the unpleasantness of the thoughts it can raise, but the bottom line is that it is never too soon to have a plan in place, the downsides of not doing so are simply too great.

Of course, the more complex your estate, the more you will need an attorney who is financially savvy, experienced in this particular area of law, and willing to work with you and your family in a highly attentive and receptive manner. At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping families to create and maintain wills, trusts, and other advanced directives.

Call our office today to discuss you and your family’s unique situation, needs, and concerns regarding any kind of estate planning or estate management matter in a free and confidential consultation.

Creating a Will and Last Testament

The first step in laying the foundation for a successful and secure estate plan is to create a will and last testament (the longer, legal term for simply just saying “will”). Your will and last testament will broadly determine the distribution of your assets when you pass away, and in many cases will need to be updated over the course of time as your wishes, family circumstances, and assets change. A well-drafted will and last testament will allow you to choose who will receive specific parts of your inheritance, and protect those same inheritances from being subject to unnecessary and often excessive State and Federal taxation.

Wills can also include “unusual” provisions, for example distributing assets to non-family members or requiring a “beneficiary” to perform certain actions in order to actually receive their inheritance. However, such provisions will require a sound and rational explanation, something which our Chatham wills attorneys can help you to do.

Finally, your will should also name some individual as the administrator of your estate (often referred to as an “executor”). The administrator of your estate will be responsible for gathering the assets included in your estate, paying for any outstanding debts for those assets with estate funds, distributing the estate according to the law. Of course, the law, in this case, being firstly according to your will, and then according to state law for any assets which were not included within the will.

So not only is it important that your will and last testament accurately reflect your exact wishes for the division of your estate, it will need to be comprehensive (addressing each and every one of your assets), enforceable when it comes to unusual provisions, and account for the many different tax implications that are in play when it comes to will and estates.

Creating a Trust

While your will and last testament is the foundation for your estate plan, trusts are much more designed to be highly specialized and focused parts of your estate plan. They can be useful in a variety of scenarios, but almost never fundamentally necessary.

Trusts come in several different forms, and can be a tool for “testators” (the person creating the will) to accomplish several different goals:

  • Protect a beneficiary with special needs from being denied government benefits which are based on financial circumstances. For example, without a Special Needs Trust (SNT) in place, a beneficiary who is enrolled in Medicaid may be un-enrolled due to their inheritance of the assets you are leaving for them.
  • Protect your assets and estate from becoming “co-mingled” should your spouse later remarry.
  • Create a plan for your estate should your mental health deteriorate.
  • In some cases, trusts can reduce the taxes applied to your estate.
  • Protect beneficiaries of your estate from creditors and divorce agreements like alimony, marital asset division, and child support.
  • Allow for inheritances to only be awarded given the beneficiary perform (or doesn’t perform) specific actions.
  • Allow for inheritances to be awarded once the beneficiary has reached a certain age and maturity level (i.e. ensure that your inheritance is not squandered by a 21-year-old with no thought for the future or the consequences of their actions).

Again, while trusts are not a necessary component of your estate’s plan, they can be a useful way to protect your estate in different ways, and protect the individuals benefiting from your estate plan.

Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive Attorneys

Finally, you may also wish to include advanced healthcare directives and award power of attorney as part of your estate plan. Although these two ideas are not legally required to be accounted for within your will and last testament, it is highly recommended that you consider including these directives to your estate plan when meeting with our Morris County estate planning attorneys.

Without including advanced directives regarding power of attorney and healthcare decisions in your will, you risk creating a scenario where a judge or a medical professional becomes in-charge of making healthcare decisions for you should you become incapacitated. And while it may be possible for a family member to file for, and win, a guardianship proceeding in order to attain these key rights, a guardianship proceeding is usually a highly intrusive, expensive, and time-consuming legal proceeding, and are not always successful.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that you include advanced directives for healthcare and power of attorney within your will, rather than risking putting you and your family in an extremely difficult position down the road.

Contact Our Morris County Wills and Estates Lawyers Today

As you can see, the importance of creating a comprehensive, financially sound, legally protected, and accurate estate plan cannot be understated enough. When it comes to matters so important to your own life, as well as the lives of your family members, friends, and loved ones, it is highly recommended that you retain experienced legal counsel in order to ensure that you and your family’s wishes, needs, concerns, and futures are properly accounted for, and protected.

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients to create robust and effective estate plans, wills, trusts, and advanced directives in towns across New Jersey.

To speak our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your or a family member’s estate plan, or any of the specific components of an estate plan such as wills, trusts, or advanced directives, please contact us online, or through our Morris County, NJ office at (973) 840-8970.