The Reality of Your Survivors in Case of Death

NJ estate planning lawyer

In case of death or incapacitation, Estate planning lawyers help clients plan for the efficient and effective transfer of assets to spouses, to younger generation family members, to other persons clients wish to benefit, and to charities.

Looking into the future… when you die!

Few people know precisely when they will die or become highly incapacitated.  Our general thinking about death is “not me and not today”.  It’s true and it’s how we live our daily lives. But what if death or loss of capacity was your fate today, or tomorrow or next month? Have you prepared for this and given thought to the reality your survivors will experience after you’re gone?

Is your spouse protected? How about your children, especially if you and your spouse died together in an accident?  Have you addressed how your money will be safeguarded through a trust for your children? Will the government steal your hard-earned money in death or inheritance taxes?

Estate Planning for Disability/Incapacity

Many families whose lives are affected by disability, mental or physical incapacity and/or illness worry about the future for themselves and their survivors.  Who will care for my loved one when I am gone? Will he or she have the financial support, resources and services they need? Who will protect them? Who will help them make important medical, financial and life care decisions?

Elder Law Planning

Elder law planning usually begins with a crisis. As the result of a catastrophic illness or disability, a spouse or parent faces admission to a rehabilitation and therapy facility, assisted living facility or nursing home. The spouse/family fears that everything the incapacitated person saved during his or her lifetime may be at risk. The bad news is that the answer is yes; the good news is that with the help of a estate planning lawyer, it doesn’t have to be.

Trust Planning

To avoid or minimize estate taxes, an estate planning lawyer in NJ will use “qualified disclaimer” trust provisions in the will to allow establishment of a credit shelter and/or a marital trust for the benefit of the spouse and children. There may be a need for spendthrift trusts for potential beneficiaries who are financially irresponsible; a need for disability trusts for the special needs/care of disabled children or beneficiaries; minor trusts for underage beneficiaries to allow the money to be used for limited purposes until they reach a mature age and the funds are released.

Most tax and estate planning advisers stop there with the tax techniques and leave the residuary of the testamentary estate to the surviving spouse, without addressing the 100 percent tax noted above long term care. Without further protection, the will is the same “sweetheart will” we see on a daily basis whereby one spouse passes the entire estate to their sweetheart/surviving spouse.

Consider these complications of the sweetheart will: What if the surviving spouse is disabled, in a long-term care facility or on public benefits? The inheritance received must be spent on the medical care/facility cost of the surviving spouse and will disqualify him or her from public benefits/Medicaid. In effect, you have made the medical care provider/ facility the beneficiary of your will.

Legal Counsel

If you would like to discuss an estate planning or estate administration matter, please contact a estate planning lawyer. Do not wait until it’s too late.