Is a Living Trust only for the wealthy? Estate planning specialists in New Jersey answer

If you’ve been thinking about creating a Last Will and Testament and investing in estate planning then you’ve probably come across a lot of information on Living Trusts. Despite their association with the rich and elite, Living Trusts are not just for the wealthy according to experienced estate planning attorneys in New Jersey.

What is a Living Trust?

There are many different types of Living Trusts, each suited to different needs. Essentially, it is a legal document that dictates how your assets are to be divided up in the event of your passing. It is active as soon as it is created and only becomes effective after you pass away and your Last Will and Testament enters probate.

What are the benefits of a Living Trust?

The biggest difference between a Living Trust and your Will is that the first option bypasses the often costly, tax-heavy and time-consuming probate process which often lasts longer than nine months, allowing your beneficiaries to access their inheritance, funds and assets immediately.

It is also a very comprehensive document, allowing you to be as specific about the distribution of your assets as you want, as well as choosing legal guardians for your children. Other benefits include:

  • Privacy – Unlike a Will, the contents of a Living Trust are not made public.
  • It can include Durable Power of Attorney – Allowing your named trustee to immediately make financial and medical decisions for you if required.
  • Delay distribution of assets – If you prefer, you can ensure that certain assets are held back from distribution to beneficiaries until a particular time, for example, keeping aside money for your child’s college fund or until he/she reaches a certain age.
  • Keeps your business running – If your business is included in your Living Trust, then its income will stay accessible. If it is in a Will, then income will be inaccessible until the probate process is concluded.
  • It is legal in any state and requires no modification if you move between states (although you may need to modify it in terms of updating assets), which Wills often require.

At Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC, experienced estate planning attorneys can assist you with creating a Living Trust or drawing up other legal documents including Power of Attorney, medical directives and Wills. For more information or to speak to an attorney, please contact us today.

Second marriage? Here’s how it impacts on your estate planning in New Jersey

Second marriages are a very real possibility for many modern adults and while it represents a second chance at lifelong happiness it does come with some complications regarding estate planning, especially when you have children in the mix. Here are a few important factors to consider from New Jersey estate planning attorneys.

  • A prenuptial agreement – While many couples consider this the norm in their first marriage, it’s even more important for a second marriage. Not only does this agreement establish the division of assets in the event of death or divorce, it also can contain lifestyle clauses which establish financial boundaries before the marriage. For example, financial agreements which determine the extent of support for adult children or dependents where the other spouse may be affected.
  • Creating a trust – Often, married couples choose to create a trust which will ensure their estate avoids costly taxation and their surviving spouse and children are taken care of. This becomes a more complex issue when the surviving spouse remarries and more so when new children become part of the family. Your lawyer will work with you to determine if the new spouse should control the trust in the event of your passing, how it should provide for new siblings and where assets belonging to the previous spouse should be managed. There are also certain ways of increasing the value of the estate to help provide for new children and spouses, including taking out life insurance. Your lawyer will have to assist you with this, as it requires a specific legal procedure to ensure that your estate taxes are minimized.
  • Providing for your new spouse and children – Your spouse may be entering into the marriage alone or with children and you may want to include provisions in your estate plan which guarantee that they are cared for if you pass away. This is very important in the event your spouse has a falling out with your own children or beneficiaries, if they sign a Last Will and Testament which leaves everything to their own dependents or remarries. Creating a trust with a third party trustee will ensure that your wishes are carried out impartially and objectively.
  • Your Last Will and Testament – Inheritance issues can easily affect your loved ones when you have remarried and an updated Will is essential to prevent conflict. Without a Will, New Jersey state law says that half of your assets go to your spouse and the other half is left outright to your children, which isn’t ideal for most families. While your lawyer can work with you to make a more comprehensive Will, there are other option, such as insurance trusts, which present useful alternatives to dividing your assets.

Let our New Jersey estate planning attorneys assist you

Estate planning is a complex procedure made even more so by second marriages, but this shouldn’t make you put it on the backburner. Experienced attorneys at Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC will help you simplify the process and – most importantly – ensure your loved ones are properly cared for. For more advice on this process or to have your estate planning documents developed by our attorneys, please contact us today.

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