Archive for Trust 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.