Most tasks that people find onerous can be made easier by taking a step-by-step approach. This is true for purchasing a house, adding to one's family or planning a vacation. It is also true for estate planning, and many in New Jersey find it helpful to break down the process into simple steps. The following outline offers guidance on the matter, but it is important to note that each individual or family will have a unique set of needs, and the basic steps chosen should reflect those goals.
For those in New Jersey who completed their estate plans many years ago, a sense of security is often present. These individuals and families know that they have taken the steps needed to ensure that their accumulated wealth will pass on to their chosen heirs as intended. It is important to note, however, that many legal changes have taken place over the years, making it important for individuals to conduct periodic estate planning "check-ups" to ensure that their needs are still being adequately met.
Many New Jersey residents have seen media coverage of the generous gift that former basketball coach Dean Smith left for the players he worked with over the years. Smith, who is widely considered one of college basketball's most beloved coaches, used a revocable trust within his estate planning strategy to gift $200 to 180 of the young men who passed through his program. Not only is his generosity to be applauded, but the method through which he structured his estate also deserves admiration.
When planning for the distribution of one's assets upon death, many New Jersey residents make the mistake of taking a piecemeal approach to the matter. They may draft a will in which they outline how they would like their assets to pass to the designated heirs, which is an important step within estate planning. However, there may be a range of assets that have named beneficiaries, such as bank accounts, investment accounts, life insurance and more. In addition, many individuals name their children or others as joint owners on certain assets, such as their home. This approach can lead to a wide range of problems.
The shape of the American family is not what it was in generations past. Today's families in New Jersey and across the nation are often comprised of a blend of children from the current and previous unions. This diversity makes family life far more complex and interesting than in previous decades, but it also brings about a range of challenges. One such challenge involves the need to take a carefully considered approach to estate planning, to ensure that everyone's needs are properly addressed.
Many New Jersey residents have fond memories of comedian and actor Robin Williams and the many roles he played in movies and television over the years. When Williams died last year, he did so having left provisions in place to provide for his family. While Williams appears to have covered the major financial matters in his estate planning package, it appears that his heirs are at odds over some of the belongings that he left behind.
A great many families in New Jersey are comprised of a blend of biological and stepchildren, in which one or both spouses have been married previously. This combination can lead to a rich and fulfilling mix of family connections, and often simply expands the number of people with whom a spouse is able to share their love. When considering estate planning options, however, a combined family has needs that differ from a more traditional family in which all of the children are shared by the husband and wife.
The number of Americans who purchase and own firearms has been on the rise in recent years. Statistics compiled by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is run by the FBI, indicate that the number of firearm purchases has risen since 2012, and that last December's numbers were also higher than the year prior. This means that more and more households contain guns, many of which are highly valuable. For those in New Jersey who have a valuable firearm collection, the topic of gun trusts within estate planning may be of interest.
New Jersey residents who are beginning the process of planning their estate often work with a series of lists. These may include lists of assets, lists of heirs and lists of the documents required to put their wishes into a cohesive estate planning solution. Often absent from those lists are details about social media accounts, which, in our digital age, is a topic that deserves attention.
When parents have built a business and raised a family under the umbrella of that enterprise, they often expect that their children will want to follow in their footsteps. This, however, is often not a dream that becomes realized, as adult children tend to have their own ideas about how to chart their course within the world. For farm families in New Jersey, this can be especially true, as choosing an agrarian life is not something that everyone desires or is equipped to handle. When considering how to pass along an asset as complicated as a family farm, a complex estate plan is often required.