Bergen County Wills & Estate Planning Attorneys
Protecting the Futures of New Jersey Clients
Planning for the future is a necessity. We take the time to plan other aspects of our lives such as vacations, work schedules, family time, retirement, and more. However, far fewer individuals take the time to plan financially through a will, living trust, and with advance healthcare directives. Without such considerations, your hard-earned assets may fall into legal purgatory, leaving your family to pick up the pieces.
The wills and estate planning attorneys of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark have extensive experience helping clients with the creation of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance health directives, and much more. While the subject matter may not be the most pleasant, we urge our clients to view the process as leaving their families in good hands. As the saying goes, “it is better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”. Our firm takes pride in offering legal services to families in local Bergen County communities including Hackensack, Paramus, Ridgewood, Teaneck, Fort Lee, and across all of Northern New Jersey.
Call our office today for a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced and qualified attorneys regarding your financial situation and to learn more about how a will, living trust, or any other form of estate planning can help your family secure its financial future.
Estate Planning Lawyers Help Clients Create Will and Last Testament
All individuals should have a legally enforceable last will and testament, often shortened to a will. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to New Jersey’s intestacy statutes, which essentially go down a list of your relatives beginning with spouses, children, grandchildren, and so forth. In the case where you have no qualifying relatives, the state may seize your assets.
Last wills and testaments can be used to leave your assets to individuals or organizations of your choosing, name a guardian of your children in the case of your passing, name the executor of your will, and much more. Wills also serve to shorten “probate” court proceedings, which are in place to distribute assets after an individual has passed away without a will naming an executor. Executors are individuals who will be responsible for carrying out the terms of your will.
New Jersey wills are not required to be notarized to be legally enforceable. However, it is required that your will is signed in front of a minimum of two (2) witnesses who must also sign your last will and testament. It is worth noting that some individuals may wish to sign a self-proving will, which will shorten the probate process even further. Self-proving last wills and testaments must be notarized.
Creating a Living Trust
Some individuals prefer to create a living trust in addition to their last will and testament to avoid a long and drawn out probate period after your passing. Living trusts are essentially written arrangements that allow an individual called a trustee to hold legal custody of your assets until they are passed on to another individual known as the beneficiary. You may be your own trustee and retain control over your assets until they are passed on to the beneficiary.
When used in conjunction with a last will and testament, living trusts serve several purposes, including, but not limited to:
- Potentially reducing federal estate tax for those with high net-worth
- Creating an enforceable trust to plan for your estate to change hands before your mental health could potentially deteriorate in your later years
- Offering protection from other forms of financial agreements and terms including alimony and spousal support, child support, and equitable distribution of marital assets during divorce
- Ensuring beneficiaries with special needs will receive the financial considerations they deserve. Examples include government programs where beneficiaries may otherwise be un-enrolled based on their inheritance
- Protection from future asset commingling in the case where your former spouse re-marries
Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directive Lawyers
A power of attorney arrangement essentially grants another trusted individual the ability to handle your finances and legal decisions. Many individuals choose to grant a power of attorney when they have become ill or mentally unable to make sound decisions regarding their finances. Individuals who have been granted a power of attorney can make bank transactions, oversee investments, collect benefits such as social security or insurance benefits, pay bills, and much more.
It is important to understand that many power of attorney agreements or terms therein do no take immediate effect. It is possible for you to draft terms in such a way that a power of attorney is granted only when a doctor signs off that you are no longer physically and/or mentally capable of making your own decisions. A durable power of attorney takes effect immediately, regardless of your mental state. A springing durable power of attorney will only be legally enforceable once a medical doctor has determined that you are legally and medically incapacitated.
By granting legal authority through a power of attorney, your estate plan is protected from a situation where you are no longer able to make sound decisions. Without a power of attorney, your family may be left helpless, as medical professionals or judges make decisions on your behalf. Advance healthcare directives are not required as part of a last will and testament or a living will, but they are highly recommended to protect your family and loved ones from a potentially difficult situation.
Contact our Hackensack Wills and Estate Planning Attorneys Today
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our wills and estate planning attorneys take pride in helping our Bergen County clients create wills, living trusts, and healthcare directives across towns including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Paramus, Teaneck, Fort Lee, and all of Northern New Jersey. Our firm focuses exclusively on family law, which allows our attorneys to stay up-to-date with the most recent trends and law changes that may affect you and your family. We are led by three partners, all of whom have earned the distinction of Certified Matrimonial Lawyers by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Lean on our extensive experience to secure your family’s future through thorough estate planning.
To speak with one of our qualified and experienced wills and estate planning lawyers in a free and confidential consultation, please contact us online or call our Hackensack, NJ offices today.