If you are like many people, you may hear the term “estate plan” and immediately assume that the information that follows is not directed at you. This usually stems from the misconception that estate planning is only for the wealthy and for people who actually have an “estate.”
Here’s the reality: if you are reading this article, it is very likely that you have an estate. Legally, the term “estate” simply refers to the totality of a person’s assets and debts. So, if you own a home, a car, personal property, or anything else, you have an estate. An estate plan is a plan that addresses the way your assets will be handled when you pass away that can also have tax benefits and asset protection benefits. It is never too early to start the process of estate planning, so it is advisable to call an estate planning attorney as soon as you can to discuss your options.
Estate Planning to Avoid Probate
One of the main goals of estate planning is avoid having your assets go through probate before your heirs and beneficiaries can take possession of them. If you pass away in New Jersey with or without a will, your property will have to go through probate. During this process, if you have a will, your will is validated and interpreted, debts are handled, taxes paid, and assets are transferred. If you pass away without a will, the probate court will apply New Jersey’s intestacy laws in order to determine who will inherit your assets.
The problem with probate is that it can take a long time and cost an estate a significant amount of money. If there are disputes, the will arise during probate, and complicated estates can take years to settle. In addition, attorney’s fees, appraiser’s fees, court fees, and executor fees can easily cost even a modest estate thousands of dollars. Fortunately, a well-thought out estate plan can often avoid probate entirely. Some of the ways that an attorney can help you avoid probate include:
- Placing your assets in a living trust
- Using beneficiary deeds for the ownership of real estate
- Joint ownership of assets
- Designated beneficiary bank accounts
Call 732-422-1000 today for a consultation.
A comprehensive estate plan can provide you with significant peace of mind and ensure that your estate is protected for years to come. To speak with a skilled New Jersey estate planning lawyer, call Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl, PC today at 732-422-1000. If you would prefer, you can send us an email through our online contact form.