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Estate Planning Attorneys To Help You Prepare

An estate plan can be simple or complex, basic or elaborate. Whatever the shape and form of the plan, it can provide for your loved ones and give you peace of mind.

At the law firm of The Manna Helmy Law Group, our Ridgewood estate planning lawyers create estate plans for people in all walks of life. We are highly experienced in this area and understand the many creative uses of estate documents and vehicles.

Our Full Range Of Services

Our firm provides a full range of estate planning services including:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts
  • Gifting strategies
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Health care directives (living wills)
  • Other estate planning services

Our attorneys provide advice and services for people with medium to large estates.

Estate Planning For The Disabled

If you have a disabled child, spouse or relative, you are presented with a unique set of challenges. People with disabilities can benefit from the many government assistance programs that are available. However, Medicaid and other benefits may be needs-based, meaning that the disabled person must be poor to receive them.

Should a disabled person inherit wealth, it could disqualify them from receiving Medicaid and other needs-based assistance, effectively knocking them off these government programs that are paying for their care. Their inherited wealth would then have to be used to pay for their care until it is spent down, at which point Medicaid or similar programs would resume paying for the disabled person’s care. The net result is that the person would not receive any better care, and the inherited wealth would be wasted.

There are ways to navigate these scenarios without losing these very valuable government benefits. We can discuss with you the pros and cons of all of the available options, including disinheritance, supplemental needs trusts and irrevocable trusts.

The Estate Planning Process

We will begin the estate planning process by getting to know you, your family and your financial situation. We will learn about your hopes and dreams as well as areas of concern and anxiety. We will then create an estate plan that will accomplish your goals and reflects your values.

As your family and financial situations change, it makes sense to revisit your estate plan. The birth of a child, a marriage or divorce – these or other events may require changes to your existing plan or require additional documents or estate vehicles.

Creative Estate Tax Minimization Strategies

Our estate planning attorneys have a great deal of experience in the uses of the law to minimize estate taxes.

We understand how to use trusts and gifting in creative ways to achieve your goals and to reduce or eliminate the payment of estate taxes. We can discuss your needs and potential tax minimization strategies with you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

It is common to have a lot of questions when planning your estate, which is why it is so helpful to consult with an experienced attorney. Below, we’ve provided answers to some common questions we receive from clients.

My spouse is disabled, and the bank won’t let me access their account to pay for their care. What can I do?

This is a frustrating situation, but there are at least two possible solutions. First, if your spouse is considered “competent” (able to make and communicate their own decisions), you can ask your spouse to grant you a power of attorney designation. This legal entitlement will allow you to act on their behalf in financial matters.

If your spouse is incapacitated (unable to make and/or communicate their own decisions), you will need to seek and be granted guardianship by a court. As your spouse’s guardian, you would have broad decision-making authority over finances, health care and other matters. Whether seeking power of attorney or guardianship, it is important to work with a skilled attorney like those at our firm.

What can I do if I’m unable to locate the original will of a family member?

In New Jersey, if an original will cannot be found, the law presumes that the testator (the person who wrote the will) intended to either revoke the will or destroy it. If you have a copy of the will (but not the original), our attorneys can help you apply to the court to probate the copy.

We will need to overcome the “rebuttable presumption” that the testator intended to revoke or destroy the will, and how we do so will depend on the facts of the case. In short, it is possible, but you’ll need the help of an experienced estate attorney.

I have been separated from my spouse for a long time. Am I still responsible to pay for their care?

Unfortunately, the answer is likely yes. Divorce would absolve you of financial responsibility, but separation does not.

I suspect someone is financially exploiting my family member. What should I do?

Financial abuse and exploitation are sadly common, especially among the elderly. Please contact our firm to discuss your concerns with our attorneys. We can help you establish a trust or conservatorship, both of which could give you control over your loved one’s finances and make it impossible for the guilty party to continue to exploit your family member. We can also discuss your options for reporting the guilty party to law enforcement.

Will a divorce help preserve my estate?

As with many legal matters, the answer is: it depends. Both New Jersey and New York are equitable distribution states, meaning that all assets considered marital property need to be divided equitably in divorce (which isn’t necessarily the same thing as a 50-50 split). The estate preservation value of getting divorced would depend on which of your assets are considered marital property and which are considered separate property. When you contact our office, we would be happy to discuss the details of your case and advise you accordingly.

Put Your Future In Good Hands

For more information about the benefits of living trusts and other estate planning devices, speak with us. Contact our Ridgewood estate planning attorneys online or call 201-345-3018 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your situation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey and New York.