Reasons to Hire an Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning attorney

Estate planning is not something to take lightly. Many of us have it on our list of things we’ll eventually get around to, but we recommend speaking with an estate planning attorney soon and ensuring everything is in place. This is especially important for people with a lot of assets, own multiple businesses, and have large or blended families. A good estate planning attorney will help you put a plan in place that gives your loved ones clarity and peace of mind when you’re no longer here. 

Here’s why you need an estate planning attorney:

  • New Jersey laws will impact the way you plan your estate. Some state laws dictate who can be named executor, who can be given power of attorney, who can make medical decisions, and other important factors. A New Jersey elder law attorney will be able to explain all the laws that have an impact on your living will.
  • Hiring an attorney ensures your will is legally valid. While it may be tempting to fill out one of those quick, do-it-yourself internet forms, we strongly advise against this. You need a certified legal professional to ensure all of your estate planning documents cannot be contested.
  • Estate planning attorneys can easily organize complex business and family situations. Multiple marriages and blended families are the norm these days, and so is owning one or several businesses. These factors can sometimes make estate planning tricky however, so it’s best to consult an attorney who is experienced in dealing with all different types of life situations. 

NJ estate planning you can trust 

Instead of putting it off another year, why not contact a NJ estate planning attorney today and start organizing your estate? Being legally prepared for the end of your life makes things a little bit easier for your loved ones, and it mitigates family disputes that can easily turn ugly. Having a clear estate plan in place gives your loved ones the clarity they need to carry out your wishes, the way you intend them to. 

This past year has taught us that we must be prepared for the unexpected. If something happens to you and your family has no clear will in place, they’ll be left to figure it out on their own without knowing what you really wanted. 

For more information about how our team at SCC Legal can help you plan your estate, or if you have any other questions, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted estate planning partners. 

The Duties of a Will Executor

Last Will and Testament document

It’s never too early to create an official will. Even though it’s not something most of us want to think about, it’s a necessary part of life. When drawing up your will you’ll also need to nominate an executor, which raises the question: what exactly does being an executor for a will include? 

Choosing a will executor

An executor is the person who carries out all of the instructions in your will when you’re no longer here. Think of your will as a map, and the executor is nominated to be the navigator. The person you choose to be your executor should obviously be someone you trust, but are there any other important factors to consider?

We recommend choosing someone who is adept at paperwork and managing legal issues, especially if you have a large or complicated estate. Your executor doesn’t necessarily need a legal background, but they need to be able to handle various legal obligations. Additionally, you can choose more than one executor if you feel it’s best to split the duties. 

People commonly named as executors include one child or multiple children, a niece, a nephew, an adult grandchild, or a close family friend. If you don’t have anyone in your life who you want to nominate as your executor, please speak with your attorney, so they can discuss other options with you. 

What is a will executor responsible for?

Depending on the contents of your will, your executor will be responsible for:

  • Registering your death
  • Organizing your funeral
  • Paying any inheritance tax
  • Having your estate valued by an appraiser
  • Applying for probate
  • Sorting out your finances and distributing your assets as you requested in your will
  • Following any other additional instructions in your will

You can see why it’s important to choose a responsible person you trust to be your executor, as this is a responsibility that should be taken very seriously. 

Planning for senior healthcare and more at SCC Legal 

Regardless of your age, we recommend planning for your senior years as soon as possible. An experienced elder law attorney can help you create a will, plan for your health care, provide assistance with Medicaid planning, and much more. Having a plan in place makes things a little bit easier on your loved ones when you’re no longer here, and it avoids what can become long, frustrating legal battles among family. 

For more information about how our team at SCC Legal can help you in all matters of elder law, including senior healthcare and Medicaid planning, please contact us today. Choosing an executor for your will is an important task and we are glad to offer our professional advice, every step of the way.

What are Your Sibling Rights in a Contested Will Probate?

Estate planning attorney

Although it’s an unfortunate reality, estate planning attorneys will attest to the fact that it’s common for siblings to fight over their parent’s will. When the last remaining parent passes away, it’s understandably a very sad and distressing time, and when a parent’s will becomes contested among siblings, it only adds to the stress and emotional strain. 

In our many years of representing siblings in estate disputes, we’ve found the following issues to be some of the most common:

  • One sibling seeks to direct a disproportionate amount of decedent assets to themselves. Hopefully your late parent left behind a will, which will instruct their attorney on how to distribute their assets. If they passed away without a will, all siblings must reach an agreement regarding asset distribution. 
  • Some siblings live far away, and find themselves unable to get straight information on the disposition of the estate. All siblings are entitled to complete transparency regarding their late parent’s estate, so if you find yourself unable to get information, contact an estate planning attorney as soon as possible. 
  • Siblings find that one of them has coerced the signing of legal documents by the decedent prior to their death. If there’s a question about the will’s validity, it deserves to be investigated before a final decision about the estate is made. If you suspect your late parent was coerced, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation.
  • Siblings find that one of them has secretly transferred assets into their name prior to a parents death. While this may sound like something from a movie, it unfortunately happens more frequently than you might think. Especially when one sibling still lives close to the parent and the other siblings live far away. If this has happened then the will might be invalid, so please seek advice from an attorney. 
  • A sibling acting as executor is taking unreasonable amounts of expenses for said activity. If your parent’s will was clear and uncontested, there’s no reason that executing their estate should become a cumbersome, expensive activity.

Advice from a New Jersey elder law attorney 

We understand that losing your last remaining parent is a very difficult time. When their will is contested among your siblings, you need advice from an experienced estate planning attorney who can guide you and support you through this emotional experience. You also deserve to understand your rights and ensure your late parent’s will is executed in the exact way they wished it to be. 

For more information about how our elder law attorneys can help, 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 estate planning attorneys.

Top 6 Reasons to Hire an Elder Law Attorney

Elder law attorney New Jersey

Are you and your family considering hiring an elder law attorney? Elder law attorneys handle a wide range of issues, including handling estate assets, Medicaid applications, Medicare claims and appeals, short-term and long-term care planning, wills, estate planning, and much more. None of us like to think about aging and end-of-life issues, but we recommend being prepared and having a plan to make things as easy as possible for your loved ones. 

Here are the top six reasons to hire an elder law attorney:

  1. Attorneys who specialize in elder law often have a large network of other professionals in related fields who can offer support and assistance. The services of financial planners, psychologists, and social workers, for example, may be needed depending on the situation.
  2. You own many assets and have a significant amount of money. Unfortunately, family fights over assets and money are very common, and the larger your estate is the more complicated it can be if you pass away without leaving clear instructions. 
  3. Elder law attorneys take a holistic approach to estate planning and help you plan for all aspects, including care options, financial details, Medicare, care for your dependants, and more. 
  4. You have a large, blended family. Blended families are the norm these days, and when it comes to estate planning you need to be very clear about asset allocation.
  5. Elder law attorneys know all the legal techniques and tools to meet the needs of older adults. Whether you’re just getting around to planning your estate now, you need help with a Medicare application, or you want to know your long-term healthcare options, elder law attorneys are experts in these areas.
  6. You’re a business owner. If you own one or more businesses, an estate planning attorney can help you plan for the future of your business(es) when you’re not here anymore. 

Call an estate planning attorney in NJ

If you become unable to make medical or financial decisions for yourself and don’t have an estate plan in place, there’s a chance that the allocation of your assets will be decided in probate court. If this happens, the court decides what they think is best with no consideration for your wishes, and this unfortunately causes your loved ones more emotional distress. Having a solid estate plan in place is the best way to protect yourself and your family. 

For more information about how an estate law attorney can help you and your loved ones, 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. 

The Challenges of Applying for Medicaid

Medicaid planning

Millions of people use Medicaid to pay for costs related to assisted living, in-home care, and other associated medical costs. While you may not associate Medicaid planning with estate planning, we recommend preparing your Medicaid application the same as you would prepare traditional estate planning documents. Anyone who has been through the Medicaid application process will tell you that it’s arduous, complicated, lengthy, and any errors may cause your application to be rejected. It’s best to work with an experienced legal team who can help you navigate the application process.

What are the top reasons Medicaid applications are rejected?

  • Your application is incomplete and doesn’t contain all the required documents. Unfortunately, incomplete applications are often rejected immediately, meaning you’ve lost valuable time and you’ll have to start over with a new application.
  • Failing to reply to questions about your application. Once your local Medicaid office receives your application, they will contact you if they need further clarification. You only have 10 days to reply to their queries, and if they don’t receive a response from you, you may have to start again from the beginning. 
  • Your income is too high. Every state has different income thresholds that will disqualify you from Medicaid, and we recommend working with an elder law attorney who knows the New Jersey Medicaid Eligibility requirements to increase the chance that your application is accepted.
  • Filing too early or too late. There is a window of time in which you’re eligible to apply for Medicaid, and if your application is submitted too early or too late it will probably be rejected.

Why SCC Legal Recommends Medicaid Application Help 

Working with an experienced Medicaid attorney will save you time, frustration, and money, and can increase the chances that your application is successful. Having a Medicaid application denied can cause emotional and financial stress and you don’t want to go through the application process multiple times.

For more information about Medicaid application assistance, or if you have any questions for us at SCC Legal, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted elder law attorneys and estate planning specialists. 

Getting Your Will Together During COVID-19

Last Will and Testament

COVID-19 continues to have profound effects on our country and the way many of us live our lives, and it’s caused many of us to think about things a bit differently. For example, most of us don’t sit around thinking about contacting an elder law attorney to create or update our will. However, when faced with the unfortunate realities of the pandemic, it’s important to be prepared in situations like this. 

How can you best prepare for the worst?

  • Work with an estate planning attorney to create an official Last Will and Testament. This document determines what happens with your assets when you’re no longer here: real estate, money, stocks, cars, and all of your other possessions. It’s important to have a Last Will and Testament in place, because when people pass away without one it can cause conflicts within the family. 
  • Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows someone you designate to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. These are often financial and legal decisions where time is of the essence, and someone you trust will be able to represent you.
  • Beneficiary designations: You can designate beneficiaries to receive specific assets outside of your will. Insurance plans, for example, should always have a designated beneficiary. Ask your estate planning attorney about the details.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: Similar to Durable Power of Attorney, this document enables someone you choose to make medical decisions on your behalf. At a time when so many people have suffered serious health complications from COVID-19, this is a critical document to have in place. 

It’s time to create or change your will with SCC Legal

COVID-19 has given many of us a different perspective, and we now understand how important it is to be prepared in case of a tragedy. It’s not always pleasant to think about end-of-life situations, but being prepared makes things easier for your family. Having clear instructions on what to do ensures they won’t experience any added stress or emotional strain. We know it can be tempting to put it off for a later time, but we recommend preparing your estate now, and encourage your family members to do the same. 

To learn how SCC Legal can help you update or change your will, if you have any questions about Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, or other estate planning documents, please contact us today. 

How employment law has changed as a result of COVID-19

Employment law

As we continue dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, employment lawyers have been helping millions of people across the country who are out of work, who have important legal questions about various circumstances at their workplaces, and who are facing unique situations we haven’t experienced before. So what are some of the major changes employers have been required to make, and what are the latest developments in employment law? Here are some of the issues we’re asked about frequently:

What changes to my workplace or worksite should my employer implement?

In order to provide a safe environment for all staff, employers have been advised to frequently sanitize high-traffic and common areas, install barriers that reduce foot traffic and congestion throughout, limit the number of people allowed at one time in elevators, escalators, and stairwells, rearrange workstations to adhere to social distancing guidelines, ask all staff to wear a face covering, and limit the number of people allowed in a single meeting room.

Can my employer fire me if I miss work due to COVID-19?

In the state of New Jersey the answer is no. If you have been told by a medical professional that you must quarantine and are therefore unable to attend work, your employer cannot fire you for missing work. New Jersey state law also protects you from harassment and discrimination as a result of COVID-19.

Is my employer under any legal obligations in regard to COVID-19?

Yes, your employer is required to provide you with a workplace that is free from hazards that can cause death or serious bodily harm. For COVID-19 this means providing you with necessary PPE, modifying your workplace to allow for social distancing, and allowing you to work remotely where possible. It also means asking staff who tested positive to isolate, including those who may have come in contact with someone who tested positive.

When to speak with an employment lawyer

If you have any concerns about the above-mentioned issues, or if you’re concerned that your employer is engaging in unfair employment practices as a result of COVID-19, we recommend speaking with an employment lawyer as soon as possible. This pandemic has pushed us into unfamiliar territory in regard to employment law, but it’s always best to know your rights as an employee and know what’s required of your employer. 

If you need advice from an employment lawyer, or if you have any questions about your employment rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted employment lawyers. We look forward to hearing from you.

When Do You Need A Business Lawyer For Your Small Business?

business lawyer

Small business owners have so many things to think about on a daily basis, and one common question they ask themselves is: Do I need a small business lawyer?

Many small business owners believe it’s too expensive to hire an attorney, however working with a business lawyer sooner rather than later can help you prevent expensive incidents down the line. Prevention is often cheaper than the cost of remedying mistakes and missteps, and hiring an attorney helps you ensure your bases are covered. 

Here are a few situations for which we recommend consulting with a business lawyer:

  • Your company is being sued by a prospective, a current, or a former employee. While many businesses will deal with lawsuits, they can quickly get messy. You need a professional to keep the situation under control and to act on behalf of your company. Whether it’s a discrimination suit, a hostile work environment suit, or something else, a business lawyer can help.
  • Your business is being investigated at a local or state level for violation of any laws. Certain inspections and investigations are routine, but when someone files a complaint and your local or state government takes action, you need an attorney to guide you through the process.
  • For a sale, a merger, or an acquisition. These are complicated financial transactions that must be done correctly, so whether you’re acquiring another business and its assets, or you’ve decided to sell your business, you’ll need a lawyer.
  • Your business is involved in an environmental issue. The government is increasing regulations around the way small businesses impact the environment. Which means you may be subjected to penalties if you aren’t in compliance, even if you weren’t previously aware of the latest regulations. 

How small business lawyers can help 

In addition to the above issues, small business lawyers can also help you with issues related to copyrights, trademarks, compliance, and more. We recommend finding a trusted business attorney before you actually need one because being prepared is always in your best interest. Unfortunately litigation is something many small business owners will experience at least once, and you want an experienced small business lawyer representing you and your company in court. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a potentially messy legal incident to seek the advice of an attorney.

For more information about how our attorneys can help you as a small business owner, or if you have any questions, please contact SCC Legal today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their trusted small business lawyers. We look forward to hearing from you.

Understanding Durable Power of Attorney

It’s never too early to start the estate planning process. While it can be easy to put it off, or to say you’ll get around to it next year, it’s crucial to have a plan in place that will protect and provide for your loved ones if something happens to you. Additionally, many people believe they don’t need to start thinking about estate planning until later in life, or until they experience an injury or an illness, but making all the necessary arrangements now will make things easier for you and your family.  

One document often used in estate planning is Durable Power of Attorney. This is an important document to understand and to have in place, so what is Durable Power of Attorney and how is it used? To start, Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to choose someone to act on your behalf to make legal, financial, or medical decisions. But Power of Attorney is not valid once you become incapacitated, and this is where Durable Power of Attorney becomes important.

Durable Power of Attorney gives someone – a person chosen by you – the authority to make decisions about your medical care and your finances if you become incapacitated, either by injury or illness. With Durable Power of Attorney legally in place, the person you’ve selected to act on your behalf will be able to do essential things like:

  • Pay your bills and deposit checks on your behalf
  • Make medical decisions on your behalf, including decisions about your treatment
  • Manage your bank accounts, assets and investments

Why Durable Power of Attorney is essential 

Durable Power of Attorney is often separated into two categories – finances and healthcare – and you will need to nominate a person to act on your behalf in each area. It can be the same person, or you may have family members who are specialists in these categories who you would trust to make decisions for you if you become unable.  

If you become incapacitated and haven’t chosen a durable power of attorney, decisions about your medical care may be made by doctors and your family will not have a say. Families that find themselves in this situation often go to court in order to be allowed to make decisions about their loved one’s care, causing them additional distress during an already difficult time. The same is true for your financial decisions – families are left having to petition the court to gain access to their loved one’s finances. 

For more information about estate planning, including Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney, please contact us today. Discover why so many people in New Jersey choose us as their estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

5 Important Reasons to Avoid a Do-It-Yourself Will

will

When it comes to your will, advice from an estate planning attorney ensures your wishes are carried out exactly as you desire, leaving no room for confusion or misinterpretation. We’ve seen the rise of do-it-yourself wills over the last few years, but it’s important to understand what can go wrong with this method:

1. A will must be signed and witnessed following proper protocol in order to be valid in a court of law. Simply typing your last wishes up on a piece of paper while you’re home alone and signing it will not hold up with a judge, and its validity can be contested.

2. Making changes to your will must follow proper protocol, or else they may be considered invalid. It’s common to make changes to your will, but you can’t just re-draft your will on your own. Enlisting the help of an estate planning attorney to make amends to your will ensures these changes are honored when the time comes.

3. You must follow proper protocol when having your will witnessed. This includes having two independent adults present at the same time, neither one of whom can be listed as the beneficiary of your will. When done under the guidance of an estate planning attorney there is little room for doubt as to whether proper procedure was followed. 

4. Misspelled names might render your will invalid. Our eyes tend to gloss over spelling errors quite easily, especially if it’s a name that you see often. Having a professional set of eyes read your will can catch costly spelling errors and other mistakes. 

5. Your will affects the family members you leave behind. An incorrectly executed will can eliminate your family’s income source, cause them to lose their home, and leave behind a frustrating, confusing mess. 

Our affairs are rarely as straightforward as we think they are. The DIY route may seem tempting due to the convenience, but it’s recommended to invest a little more time and money by enlisting the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. They can prepare you for circumstances you probably have not thought of, and ensure your will truly fulfills your last wishes.

Advice from New Jersey estate planning attorneys

If you have questions about estate planning, or you’re ready to draw up your will, please contact us today. Discover why we’re New Jersey’s most trusted estate planning attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.

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