Archive for Estate Planning

Why is a Durable Power of Attorney so Important Under New Jersey Law?

Arguably a Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is as important as a Will.

Is your existing POA more than five years old and in need of updating to access Medicare and Medicaid benefits?

Do you know what this document is, and how it benefits your life?

Should you become disabled or ill and unable to pay your bills, handle your financial affairs, and continue doing business, this crucial legal document will immediately allow a trusted family member, friend or advisor to assume the fiduciary duties of handling your financial affairs until you have recovered your health.

The word Durable  is pretty important, as it allows your trusted fiduciary (your Agent) to swiftly step in and assist in the day-to-day financial chores of you and your family, such as bill paying, banking, and any other obligations you name in the POA.

Without a Power of Attorney in place, a Court proceeding is required so that a Judge can determine your need for a Conservatorship to administer your assets, and the Judge will then appoint an agent to handle your financial affairs.

A second possibility is a Springing Power of Attorney, effective only upon the affirmation of two medical opinions that you are unable to handle your own financial affairs. This is less often chosen, as it can substantially delay your Agent’s access to funds to pay your bills and operate your household or business.

Your POA is revocable at any time by you if you are able, should you need for any reason to change your Agent, and it automatically terminates upon death, as your Executor assumes these tasks in Probate.

Most clients agree that a Power of Attorney provides the comfort of knowing that you will be well cared for should you need medical attention.

Recent changes required to comply with Medicare and Medicaid may make your POA ineffective in accessing these critical government benefits. Call my office at 973-285-3322 or 973-543-1491 for an appointment to update.

This blog is not legal advice, which would require a thorough understanding of your individual and family needs.

7 Reasons Why You May Need a New Will

Welcome to our new Blog!

I hope to answer your estate planning questions in simple, non-legal terms.

Did you know that statistics indicate 63 percent of Americans do not have a Will?

That’s a problem if you have assets, as absent a valid Will the State of New Jersey County Surrogate Court will distribute your assets under NJ State law. In my experience, clients are not happy with this option.

Recently, I had a call from some good clients asking me if it was time to revise their estate plans after many years had passed.

Wills, Powers of Attorney for financial matters, and Living Wills/Advance Health Directives most often are updated every time there is a substantial life change, or if the laws change.  These changes include such things as:

  1. Tax laws have radically changed, Medicaid laws have changed, and a review can save considerable money as federal estate tax exemptions mean your Will can often be simplified. Income tax rates increased, and benefits and costs of Medicare and Medicaid are substantially changed, so collectively, the old plans may not suit your needs under the new laws.
  2. Divorce/Remarriage can void not only the Will provisions, but complicate beneficiary designations for IRAs, 401ks, and life insurance policies.
  3. Emancipation of children: Do your old guardianship provisions need updating?
  4. Do you have financial or health changes in the family?
  5. Do you seek to reduce NJ’s heavy estate and inheritance tax burden on your family, the highest in the nation?
  6. Have you considered a Trust to provide for children’s or grandchildren’s college funds, disabled family members, or protecting heirs?
  7. Do you wish to explore charitable gifting?

I like to stress that an estate plan is really an exciting time to discuss creating the life plan you deserve, and your hopes and dreams should be part of the conversation.

If you need help with your estate planning, reach out to me at 973-285-3322.

The above information should not be taken as legal advice. You must contact an attorney.

Are You a “Baby Boomer”?

Did you know that every day 10,000 Baby Boomers retire? Just as federal and state taxes are increasing, these numbers tax the government systems many rely on.

Come in for an initial consultation to discuss how these changes will affect your life plan, and estate plan.

And please feel free to contact me on the Form to request brief answers to your pressing questions as they affect your family, and your plans.

What is an Estate Plan?

What is an “Estate Plan”? And when should you revise it?

A simple plan usually includes a Will, Power of Attorney, and Advance Directive.

These documents can:

  1. protect your assets and ensure your financial life continues should you become ill or disabled (Power of Attorney);
  2. protect your health should you be unable to make your own medical decisions (Advance Directive and Living Will);
  3. Distribute your assets to family and friends upon your demise. (Last Will and Testament).

So at each stage of your life you should have these documents, and review them when your life changes.

As we go along, we will consider additional tools, such as guardianships for disabled loved ones; trusts ( revocable and irrevocable), government benefits ( when and IF you will qualify to receive any such benefits); and how tax benefits will change your formula for retiring.

Such benefits include Veterans benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SSI, Able Act. Many of these benefits are declining. Come in to discuss which of these benefits may or may not, factor into your life and estate plan.

Susan P. Preston, Esq.

Estate and Elder Law

WELCOME to Susan P. Preston, Esq.’s new Estate and Elder Law Blog. New laws change estate planning every day!

It’s my fervent hope that this forum will simply and in non-legal language assimilate the fast moving changes in health care, taxes, federal and state benefits to help navigate the maze in revising your Life Plan for the upcoming days.

2015 Brings a new urgency for updating your Life and Estate Plan, for the following reasons, 10,000 US Baby Boomers retire every day, taxing our entitlement systems, health care, and these will directly affect each retiree:

  1. Taxes have risen, many of these new taxes will affect your retirement and health care costs, hence, what is left to leave to your family after you are gone.
  2. Planning becomes more complex, and requires a new vision and, I believe, any estate plan should first provide for your long and healthy life, then when that is secure, then provide the remainder for your loved ones via an estate plan.

I hope you will join me on this information journey!