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Probate Archives

Benefits of trusts: Beyond avoiding probate

Virtually all New Jersey residents are aware that building an estate plan around trusts instead of simply drafting a will can keep an estate out of probate. The probate process is time-consuming, expensive and fraught with potential tension and stress, and avoiding those negative aspects is a worthy goal. However, there are a number of other reasons to choose trusts over a will.

Avoiding probate just one benefit of estate planning

A great deal of focus within estate planning is centered on the best way to transfer assets to children and grandchildren after the death of a loved one. For couples in New Jersey without children, a different estate planning approach is often taken, and the focus becomes how to best ensure that one's own needs are taken care of in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury. It is one thing to consider how one would like to be cared for in such circumstances, but another to actually structure a plan to make sure that one's wishes are followed in this most important regard. This aspect of estate planning is often overshadowed by a focus on passing on assets and avoiding probate.

Without current beneficiary information, probate court decides

Organization and periodic review are two topics that should always be associated with the creation and maintenance of a proper estate plan. Without these two practices, it is all too easy for the wishes of a New Jersey resident to fall by the wayside. Over the course of a lifetime, many individuals will obtain a wide variety of assets, including various insurance policies. Ensuring that the beneficiaries for those assets are up-to-date is an essential aspect of good estate planning. Absent such measures, the division of one's estate can be left in the hands of a probate court.

A sad but true estate planning and probate reality

Much has been written, here and elsewhere, about the need to create and maintain a thoughtful drafted estate plan. That said, the reality is that many in New Jersey and across the nation will not address this important need, and their heirs will be forced to go through the probate process. A recent article written for estate planning attorneys puts an unusual spin on this reality, one that is disheartening for many families but also has the power to motivate some to make a change.

How small estates can reap big benefits by avoiding probate

One of the most common objections that New Jersey attorneys hear in regard to creating an estate plan involves the belief that an individual or family with only a moderate or modest level of wealth has no need to create such a plan. This, however, is far from true. Viewed from a different perspective, those with less modest financial holdings have an even greater need to protect those assets at the time of their death. Avoiding probate is key to preserving assets, and having more to pass on to loved ones.

Poor planning lands Lou Reed's estate in probate process

Many New Jersey readers are likely familiar with the life and artistic work of singer and guitarist Lou Reed. Once the frontman for The Velvet Underground, Reed had a long and prolific musical career that amassed a significant fortune. His death in 2013 and his questionable estate-planning choices have opened up the musician’s financial affairs for the world to see. Hopefully, a glimpse into the estate as it moves through probate will teach others of the importance of creating a solid estate plan, no matter what their level of personal wealth.

Mickey Rooney's will contested, going through probate process

Many individuals in new Jersey take the necessary steps before they die to create a comprehensive estate plan, which can include a will. A will simply dictates how one's assets are distributed among family members, friends and others. A will is created by most people in the hopes of eliminating future fighting over sentimental and financial assets. Unfortunately, even when a will is in place, fighting can still occur and loved ones will have to go through the complex probate process.

Is it possible to avoid probate without a will?

When considering their estate planning needs, many people who do not have significant financial holdings assume that they have no need for many of the tools offered within the estate planning process. It is true that individuals with a low net worth can avoid probate without the use of a will, doing so can be tricky, and can lead to a range of difficulties. In addition, there are other estate planning practices that should be put into place no matter how much money a New Jersey resident has amassed at the time of their death.

When it's necessary to probate a will in New Jersey

A will generally protects someone's assets in the event of their death. Sometimes, a will may require New Jersey family members to go through probate litigation for the distribution of assets. As emotional as this is, there are circumstances where this is necessary and beneficial.