Don’t make these five estate planning mistakes

  1. Not updating your estate plan: Once you have created an estate plan, you can relax and forget about it, right? Wrong. All kinds of life changes can make your estate plan out-of-date, from getting married and having children to getting divorced, inheriting assets, moving states and starting a business. Even without any of these big changes, your estate plan will need to be revised every few years to make sure it stays updated with the latest changes to state and federal law, as well as your personal goals.
  2. Choosing the wrong trustee or executor: Choosing a trustee or executor can be a challenging experience. The individual needs to be ethical, competent and available for this position. Family can be a good choice, especially if they are in charge of managing assets and finances for disabled beneficiaries or children, but it’s important that they know what their role entails before you decide to include them in these roles. Other alternatives include corporate trustees and executors who have extensive experience in these areas, and naming your attorney as a co-trustee to oversee and manage your trust along with a family member.

It’s important this role is given a lot of thought, as the wrong trustee or executor could be a disaster. Attorneys know firsthand of the damage and harm that the wrong person can do – from mismanaging fund in trusts and stealing from trusts to simply not having the time or ability to handle these important roles.

  1. Not naming a successor trustee: If you have the ideal person in mind to act as trustee, then your assets are in good hands. But what if something happens to that person? Anything from a vehicle accident to old age may leave your assets in an uncertain position. This is why it is important to name a few successors who can take over the role and continue managing these assets properly.
  2. Taking the DIY route: DIY is a great way to save money – if you know what you’re doing. But we’ve all seen what happens when a DIY project goes wrong, whether it’s a homeowner tackling their plumbing problem or an individual trying to draw up their own estate planning documents. When it comes to complex issues which affect your ability to provide for your loved ones, going professional is best. Your attorney will be able to draw up ironclad documentation as well as advise you on how to save significant amounts of money, so it’s more than worth it.
  3. Not explaining your estate plan: If you’ve been thinking about your estate plan, you probably have a good idea of what you want to do with your life and your assets – whether you want an advanced healthcare directive that refuses certain aggressive lifesaving procedures or to leave your assets to your favorite charity. Whatever you decide, it’s best to talk your decisions over with your loved ones and explain why you are making various choices. This is key to preventing expectations arising that can easily cause long-term conflicts and legal contestation of your Will during an emotionally-charged time.

Professional estate planning from our New Jersey law firm 

If you want to find out more about estate planning, the law firm of Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC, can offer you expert estate planning advice. In addition, we can assist you with creating a trust, Last Will and Testament and drawing up Power of Attorney documents. For more information, please contact us today.

Your guide to a Special Needs Trust

For families of people with special needs or disabilities, the need to ensure they will be supported and provided for through their whole lives is an especially important factor in their financial planning. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through a Special Needs Trust which can be created by your estate planning attorney.

Why set up a Special Needs Trust? 

One of the primary challenges that special needs and disabled persons face when it comes to financial support is becoming eligible – and maintaining eligibility for – needs-based government benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. Without proper estate planning, this eligibility can be compromised. For example, leaving your home or personal effects to your loved one will not compromise their benefits, but leaving a large sum of cash will.

How does a Special Needs Trust help? 

This allows you to leave your property and other assets to the trust, rather than directly to your loved one – leaving their eligibility for benefits unaffected. You will be directed to name a trustee who will have complete discretion over the assets in the trust and will spend the money on your loved one’s behalf, ensuring the trust is ignored by SSI and Medicaid administrators. In this way, your assets can be used to purchase care services, food, medical expenses, therapy services and much more for your loved one.

In addition, trusts are kept fully accessible to trustees and are not subject to probate, ensuring your loved one’s needs can be met immediately, without having to wait out the probate process.

How do I choose a trustee? 

The trustee you select will have full access to your assets, so it’s important you choose someone who is honest, trustworthy, financially knowledgeable and has your loved one’s best interests at heart. Be sure to take into account their health and age and name successor trustees to ensure that the trust will be managed throughout your loved one’s lifetime.

You can also choose a corporate trustee who is experienced in acting in this role or appoint your attorney as co-trustee. Your attorney will draft the documents as part of your estate plan, monitor requests, prepare distributions of money or assets and invest the assets.

Speak to estate planning attorneys in New Jersey today 

At Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC, experienced estate planning attorneys can assist you with creating a Special Needs 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.

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