Do I Need a Will?
A last will and testament, more commonly called a will, is a legally binding document a person creates to instruct how their assets will be distributed when they die.
A New Jersey will has several basic guidelines:
- The creator of a will, or testator, can be anyone aged eighteen years or older.
- It must be in writing, preferably typed.
- It must name the person, called the executor, who will carry out the will’s terms, as well as any beneficiaries, trustees, or guardians of children
- Two people over the age of eighteen must witness the signing of a will.
If a person dies without having created a will, the New Jersey laws of intestacy will decide who will get their assets: usually their spouse, children, parents or siblings depending on their family circumstances at the time of their death. Because these laws do not take the person’s wishes into account, and can often lead to legal disputes between surviving family members, it is important to create a will so that there is no doubt about their intentions.
What is a Living Will?
A living will, or an advance directive for health care, is a legally binding document that provides instructions for medical care or treatment for a person that is no longer able to communicate their wishes, such as in the event of incapacitation, illness, or injury.
- A living will can be created by anyone aged eighteen or over, and requires two witnesses aged eighteen or older.
- A living will usually names a person who will have medical power of attorney, meaning they can make medical decisions for a person who is not able to.
- A living will dictates a person’s wishes regarding issues such as organ donation, as well as life-sustaining treatment including mechanical ventilation or resuscitation.
What are Trusts?
A trust is a financial plan in which a person arranged for a third party, called a trustee, to hold their assets for them during their lifetime or upon their death before giving them to their
intended beneficiaries. There are certain benefits to setting up a trust, such as:
- The assets will be distributed by the trustee according to the person’s exact specifications.
- The trustee will protect the assets in a scenario where the person’s beneficiary is not able to competently manage finances.
- A trust can keep a person’s assets private and allow them to bypass probate, the legal process through which a will is declared valid. This can potentially reduce taxes and time.
Contact Us Today
Deciding on what will happen to your money and property after you are gone is never easy. However, discussing wills and trusts with an experienced New Jersey attorney can ensure that your wishes are respected, and remove a large burden from your family. Contact Himelman & Himelman today for a free consultation.