What is The Probate Process in New Jersey?

Do you know how the New Jersey probate process works? Probate is the name for the process when someone’s will is proved in a court of law. During probate, a judge must accept the will as a valid legal document, as well as the true testament of the person who has passed away. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what the probate process includes in the state of New Jersey, and if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our estate planning attorneys in Fairfield, NJ

The six basic steps of the probate process

  • Validating the will. Before anything can happen with the deceased’s estate, the court must rule that the will is a valid legal document and that it represents the true wishes of the deceased. You’ve probably heard about wills being contested in court, and this is why it’s important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. It will decrease the likelihood that any contentions should hold up the process. 
  • Appointing an executor. Most people appoint an executor for their will before they pass away, but if for some reason they haven’t, the decision is often left to the court. The executor is the person who ensures the estate is distributed exactly as the deceased intended it to be. 
  • Taking inventory of the estate. All assets must be accounted for, including bank accounts, properties, cars, businesses, and any other extraneous assets included within the will. 
  • Paying the claims against the estate. If someone makes a claim against the estate of someone who has passed away, it means they believe they’re owed something that wasn’t explicitly stated in the will. These claims must be addressed and paid if they’re found to be valid. 
  • Paying all estate taxes. Taxes incurred will depend on the size of the estate, and an experienced estate planning attorney can let you know what to expect in regards to your unique situation. 
  • Distributing any remaining assets. Once the above steps have been successfully completed, it’s time to distribute the remaining assets in the estate. 

As we mentioned above,  if you have any questions about estate planning or the ins and outs of the New Jersey probate process, please contact our team at SCC Legal today at: https://www.scclegal.com/

Skipping a Generation: How to Pass Assets to Your Grandchildren Directly

Skipping a Generation

If you’re interested in setting up your estate plan in a way that passes your assets directly to your grandchildren, we recommend working with an estate planning attorney to create a generation-skipping trust. We often assume that people will pass their assets to their children, but there are various reasons and benefits to passing assets directly to their grandchildren instead. 

While most people create generation-skipping trusts for their biological grandchildren, technically anyone (except a spouse or an ex-spouse) who is at least 37 ½ years younger than you can be designated as the beneficiary. These types of trusts can be complicated to set up, so we recommend consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help.

Why do people use generation-skipping trusts?

  • Minimize estate taxes. In order to avoid incurring federal estate taxes and certain state taxes twice – once when the assets are passed to their children and again when the children pass the assets to their children – some people opt to transfer their assets directly to their grandchildren. 
  • Your children can still earn an income from money generated by the trust. When you set up a generation-skipping trust, your children won’t be able to touch any of the assets included in the trust. However, they are able to earn an income from it. 
  • You can take advantage of the Generation-Skipping Transfer tax. Consult with your estate planning attorney about the current exemption amount, and they can help you structure a transfer of assets in a way that falls under the amount. 

Estate planning is something that’s easy to put off until it’s too late. However, in order to best protect your assets and your family, we strongly recommend creating an estate plan to ensure your wishes are carried out when you are no longer here. Don’t wait until you have an accident or an illness to think about your family’s future. Creating an airtight plan will also help to avoid nasty estate litigation between family members.  

If you’d like more information about how to set up a generation-skipping trust, please contact our team of estate planning attorneys at: https://www.scclegal.com/

How Can I Protect My Inherited Property?

How Can I Protect My Inherited Property_

One of the most common assets people leave to their children as an inheritance is property. Whether it’s the family home, a summer beach house, or multiple personal properties, there’s no question that these properties are very valuable and need to be protected. No one gets married with the intention of getting divorced, but unfortunately, we see many divorce cases during which ownership of inherited property is contested. Here’s what you need to know about protecting your property.

Protecting inherited real estate 

  • Create and sign a prenuptial agreement that states any inherited properties, or properties that will be inherited upon a parent’s death, belong solely to one party and should not be considered marital assets or marital homes. 
  • Don’t use your inherited property as your marital home. While on paper the property may be entirely yours, once you begin using it as a family home, things can become tricky to handle legally. This is because the courts may consider your inherited property to be your matrimonial home, and your spouse or ex-spouse may have some claim to it, especially if you live there as a family for a long period of time. 
  • Save all documentation proving that the property is intended for you alone to inherit.
  • Put your inherited property in a trust, naming either you or your children as the beneficiary. 
  • A postnuptial agreement is also an option if both parties are amenable to it. 

Guidance from an experienced NJ real estate lawyer

If you want to safeguard your inherited property, we recommend contacting an experienced real estate attorney who can discuss your options and help you file the appropriate paperwork. Each inheritance case is unique, and so is each marriage and divorce, so you need a lawyer who understands your particular circumstances and all the legal stipulations you may encounter. 

For more information about how a real estate lawyer can help you protect your inheritance, or if you have any questions, please contact our NJ real estate attorneys at SCC Legal today. We look forward to hearing from you.

Why You Should Include an LLC in Your Estate Plan

When you hear the phrase Limited Liability Companies (LLC) you probably think of small business owners, but did you know that LLCs can be a useful tool in your estate plan? If you’re someone who has a large estate – perhaps you own multiple homes or properties, or have other valuable assets including financial accounts – an LLC can be helpful if you want to transfer any of your assets to your children without incurring gift and estate taxes. 

How a Family LLC works in an Estate Plan

An estate planning attorney can help you and your children create an LLC together. As a parent you’ll be designated as a managing member of the LLC, while your children will be designated as non-managing members. As a managing member you’ll have control over any assets transferred into the LLC, while your kids, as non-members, will have certain restrictions about what they can and cannot do. 

Once the LLC is established, you can transfer cash, your home, any real estate holdings, any businesses you own, and other assets into it. All assets transferred into your LLC are protected from creditors, and LLCs give you more control over managing your family money, properties, and other assets. Once transferred into an LLC, these assets are also protected from incurring certain taxes, such as gift and estate taxes.

Why you need an experienced estate planning attorney

We always recommend working with an experienced estate planning attorney when setting up your estate. There is a lot of paperwork to do and processes that must be followed, and an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney will help you navigate the process. If you want to create an LLC to be included in your estate plan, you’re required to abide by additional rules and regulations, and you will benefit greatly from the guidance of an experienced lawyer. 

For more information about New Jersey estate planning, or if you have any questions about including an LLC in your estate plan, please contact our team at SCC Legal today. We look forward to hearing from you.

Is There a Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning?

Elder law vs Estate Planning What are the differences

While it may not be common knowledge, there are major differences between elder law and estate planning. Both are services that most people will need at some point in their lives, so in this article our NJ elder law attorneys discuss the differences between these two areas of legal practice, and also explain when you might need each one. If you have any questions please contact our team and we will be happy to help.

All about Elder Law

In short, Elder Law is about putting protections in place for people as they age. Seniors can be considered a vulnerable population for several reasons, and unfortunately, elder abuse – financial, mental, emotional, and physical – is not unheard of. Elder Law covers the following areas:

  • Planning for future medical care. Many of us will need assistance as we age, and it’s normal for older adults to have complex medical and health needs. Seniors need to budget for potential future care needs like assisted living, as well as decide who will make decisions for them if they become incapacitated. 
  • Determining Medicaid eligibility and applying for Medicaid. Despite the popularity of Medicaid, the application process can be very complicated, and many older adults need help determining if they are even eligible to enroll. 
  • Preventing discrimination and abuse. Whether it’s a questionable assisted living situation, or you suspect someone is accessing your loved one’s finances illegally, talk to an elder law attorney right away. 

All about Estate Planning

Estate Planning lays out in detail a person’s wishes for after they pass away. Creating an estate plan isn’t only for seniors – we recommend that people of all ages work with an estate planning attorney to decide how their assets will be distributed upon their death. 

Having an estate plan makes things easier for your family during what is often a very emotionally difficult time. Documents like a Last Will and Testament give your family clear instructions on what to do with your assets, and they’ll be grateful that these family decisions don’t need to be taken up by the courts. 

For more information about New Jersey estate planning, or if you have any questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people choose us as their trusted elder law attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

Why Do I Need a Long Term Care Plan?

The importance of long term care planning

Do you know if your older loved ones have put in place a long term care plan? While it’s not the most pleasant topic of conversation, it’s an essential one, because many seniors fail to plan for long term care. Life can change for any one of us in the blink of an eye – whether it’s illness, injury, or suddenly developing a medical condition, but it’s simply not in our nature to walk around thinking about what might happen. We only tend to give things serious consideration after they do happen.

For older adults, the desire to remain in good health and remain independent in their own home is strong. It’s scary to think that an accident or an illness can upend their entire world, but unfortunately it does happen, and any elder law attorney will tell you that it’s best to have a plan in place for when the unexpected happens. Here’s why.

When you’ll need a long term care plan

  • You develop a chronic illness or medical condition that results in you needing around the clock care. Whether this means moving into an assisted living facility or hiring in-home help, you’ll need to be able to budget for your care and other related expenses. 
  • You develop mobility issues and can no longer safely live alone at home. Many older adults develop mobility issues that can result in serious falls, and being home alone becomes dangerous. 
  • You become incapacitated. Accidents and serious illnesses can happen to anyone, and if you’re not able to make your own medical or financial decisions, you need a plan in place so your family knows what to do. 

A big part of growing older is understanding that having a long term care plan not only protects you, but also your family. If you were suddenly to become incapacitated, will your family know how to make decisions on your behalf? And if you pass away, will they know how  you want to be laid to rest or how to distribute your assets? Creating a clear plan ensures they have guidance during a very difficult time. 

For more information about how to create a long term care plan that protects both you and your family, or if you have any questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted elder law attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

An Estate Planning Lawyer is a Dedicated Counsel for Your Interests

Estate planning lawyer New Jersey

If you have elderly parents, have you hired a good estate planning lawyer? There are a range of things to consider when caring for your senior parents, especially where their health is concerned. So if you aren’t already, we recommend working with a trusted New Jersey estate planning attorney who will ensure your parents’ interests are protected. 

Despite the popular misconception, elder law attorneys don’t exclusively deal with issues related to death. While these issues are typically a part of their practice, they also deal with a wide variety of legal issues relevant for seniors like Legal Guardianship, planning for long-term care, Medicaid, and much more. Your estate planning attorney should understand your needs, explain what your options are, and work to protect your interests. 

How elder law attorneys help with senior parents

Legal Guardianship: If your senior parent becomes disabled, incapacitated, or generally unable to care for themselves and make decisions for themselves, they’ll need a legal guardian to step in and handle their care. It’s essential that your parent chooses a legal guardian while they’re still of sound mind, or else it may be contested in court. 

Long-term or in-home care: For elderly people who require long-term or in-home medical care, elder law attorneys can help them create a financial plan that covers the care they need, and manage other budget considerations. 

Medicaid: Determining eligibility and applying for Medicaid can be a long, confusing process. If you think your senior parent might be eligible for Medicaid but aren’t clear on the specifics, speak with an elder law attorney. 

Nursing home concerns: If your elderly parent is living in a nursing home, you expect them to be treated with the utmost care and respect. Whether you need help budgeting for their care or you have concerns about their treatment in a nursing home, contact an elder law attorney who can help. 

If you’d like to know more about how our New Jersey estate planning attorneys can help you and your elderly parents, or if you have any questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today. We look forward to hearing from you.

Hiring an Elder Law Attorney isn’t Just About Dying

Hiring an elder law attorney What you need to know

When you hear the phrase “elder law attorney” do you automatically think about estate planning and other legal issues related to end-of-life? While elder law attorneys can assist with estate planning, they also handle a diverse range of legal issues faced by older adults and their loved ones. Here are some of the most common legal issues that elder law attorneys handle.

Medicaid applications and Medicaid issues

Many older adults who are on fixed incomes enroll in Medicaid for their healthcare. However, Medicaid applications are tedious and can be confusing for some people, and application errors can result in significant delays. Elder law attorneys are well-versed in Medicaid applications and common issues with eligibility, so they can assist you in determining eligibility and filing your application. 

Disability planning, including Power of Attorney

We have no way of knowing how we’ll be impacted by illness, sickness, or accidents as we get older. If you become disabled or incapacitated, do you have a plan in place for your family to follow? Have you nominated a Power of Attorney for your medical, financial, and personal decisions? Being prepared for a time when you can no longer make sound decisions for yourself is very important. 

Complex financial and family situations

Blended families, owning several businesses, owning multiple properties, you’ve been married several times… complex family and financial situations are extremely common these days. However, each of these situations presents its own set of legal considerations that you need to be aware of, and elder law attorneys can help you understand what your situation means for you. 

Contact a New Jersey elder law attorney today

It’s never too early to start planning for your retirement years. Whether it’s financial planning, planning for any long-term or in-home healthcare you might need in the future, or preparing important documents like Power of Attorney or a Living Trust, an elder law attorney can help you ensure your affairs are in order. Make things easy for yourself and for your family by being prepared. 

If you’d like to know more about how our New Jersey elder law attorneys can help you, or if you have any questions, please contact our team at SCC Legal today. We look forward to hearing from you.

How Does a Real Estate Lawyer Help with Your Estate?

Real estate attorney New Jersey

When you hear the phrase “real estate lawyer” you probably don’t think of estate planning, but real estate attorneys can play a vital role in helping people manage their inheritances. Many people inherit real estate from their grandparents or parents, and whether it’s a vacation home in a sunny locale or the family home where you grew up, real estate inheritances often come with hidden costs that can add up very quickly. So, how can a real estate lawyer help?

Estate taxes: Certain federal and state inheritance taxes may apply to any properties you inherit, whether residential or commercial. A real estate lawyer who is familiar with NJ tax codes can help you determine if you owe any taxes and exactly how much. 

Appraisals: When you inherit real estate you’re generally required to have it appraised. A real estate lawyer can ensure the valuation reflects the property’s current state and takes into account any upgrades that have been made.

Maintenance costs: If you inherit a house or an apartment, and you decide to keep it and rent it out to tenants, remember that you’ll always need to keep some money on hand for maintenance costs. As a landlord, you’ll need good insurance policies and a real estate lawyer can help you understand how best to protect yourself and your property. 

Property taxes: When you inherit real estate, you also inherit the property taxes. The amount you’ll need to pay depends on where the property is located. For example, NJ homes near the ocean will have different property tax rates than inland homes. However, it’s recommended that all property owners (regardless of location) set aside a chunk of money each month to put towards property taxes.

Get help with NJ real estate inheritance

When you inherit real estate, your first call should be to a real estate lawyer who can help you understand the costs involved. You don’t want to fall behind on property taxes or be hit with an unexpected bill, so speak with an attorney as soon as possible who can help you navigate this new process. 

If you need a New Jersey real estate attorney, or if you have any questions about estate inheritance, please contact our team at SCC Legal today. We look forward to hearing from you.

5 Essential Tips for Hiring an Elder Law Attorney

A guide to choosing a NJ estate planning lawyer

You may think that estate planning is something you don’t need to worry about until you’re older. However, life is unpredictable and we never know what will happen from day to day. We recommend adults of all ages have a valid Last Will and Testament drawn up with the help of an elder law attorney. Having a will protects you, your family, and your assets in the event that something happens to you. It also provides your loved ones with guidance and eases financial stresses during a difficult time. 

In this article, our team at SCC Legal shares five essential tips for choosing the best elder law attorney for your unique situation. We hope this guide proves helpful, and encourage you to contact us with any additional questions. 

NJ estate planning: choosing the right elder law attorney

  1. Schedule several initial consultations with different lawyers. This gives you the chance to ask any questions, understand more about the estate planning process, and allows you to get a sense of each attorney’s personality and working style. 
  2. Ensure they have a lot of experience with cases similar to yours. Ideally, the attorney you choose will specialize in estate planning and they’ll be an expert in NJ estate planning laws and regulations. 
  3. Decide how you feel about their professionalism and responsiveness. You don’t want to work with someone who takes days to reply to your messages, who doesn’t explain things clearly, or who doesn’t return your calls. 
  4. Check their client reviews. Most attorneys will happily provide you with reviews from previous clients, or you can find their client reviews online. 
  5. Be sure they have the necessary credentials. It may seem obvious, but the attorney you choose needs to be licensed by the New Jersey State Bar Association. Additionally, you should check that they don’t have a record of any disciplinary actions taken against them. 

It’s never too early to create a Last Will and Testament. The last few years have demonstrated the unpredictability of life, and being prepared is necessary in order to protect yourself and your family. If you have questions about estate planning or changing your will, or if you’d like to speak to one of our elder law attorneys, please contact our team at SCC Legal today.

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