New Jersey Trusts and Estates Attorney Helping You Plan
Key Issues to Consider When Implementing Your Estate
When it comes to estate planning, you probably know the basics: Visit a wills and estate planning attorney, have your will drawn up, appoint someone as power of attorney and do what you can to keep most of your assets out of probate. But, there are so many mistakes that people make along the way when it comes to their estate plan. In order for you to avoid these mistakes, we’d like to take the time to review a few key issues so that your estate plan is mistake free.
A fiduciary is a person you’ll appoint to take legal control over your assets. Their responsibility is to act in the best interest of your beneficiaries. The two types of fiduciaries who work specifically in estate plans are trustees and executors.
Your executor is the person appointed to oversee your will and make sure your assets are distributed to your named beneficiaries. Your executor’s duties include collecting assets, paying bills and filing any estate tax returns. The trustee controls all assets placed in the trusts you establish either during your lifetime or at the time of your death as outlined in your will.
Your trustee has the responsibility of making distributions to your beneficiaries under the terms of the trust agreement, and they must also watch over investments, prepare trust accountings and also file tax returns.
If you have an outdated estate plan, sometimes your fiduciaries may no longer be able to fulfill their role. Perhaps the person is now deceased or is someone you no longer have a relationship with. Your wills and estate planning attorney will want you to make sure that you have named individuals you highly trust. While fiduciaries are legally obligated to uphold the law, it’s important to feel like those you’ve appointed are those you know will do their job to the best of their ability.
Children Have Grown
When you have young children, a key decision as part of your estate plan is determining a guardian. If your child is now an adult, the guardian aspect is no longer relevant, but there are new considerations: Has you child married? Is he financially independent? Are you leaving assets to your adult children via your trust? Do you have grandchildren?
Some trusts are set up with stipulations to distribute certain assets to your children at certain times in their lives. Consider a few factors, such as your child losing the incentive to remain employed if the distribution amount is quite large, or, if your child is married, the assets can become commingled with his spouse’s assets, which subjects the distributed trust assets to become part of the marital property in the event of a divorce. Consider too, that if the distribution amount is large enough, this could result in estate taxes when your child dies. In these instances, it’s best to consult with a wills and estate planning professional who can help you update your plan to make the necessary changes for your adult children.
Contact an estate planning law firm you can trust
The law firm of Haveson and Otis is conveniently located in Princeton and serves clients in Mercer County and throughout the state of New Jersey.