Estate Planning Services
Dash Farrow, LLP offers comprehensive estate planning services, with an emphasis on tailoring each estate plan to the specific needs and goals of the client. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through the process of preparing a Last Will and Testament, General Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Directive and Medical Power of Attorney. Some families may also need Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Special Need Trusts, or testamentary trusts, depending on their circumstances. Let Dash Farrow, LLP be your trusted advisor in making sure your family is settled for the future.
Why do I need a Last Will And Testament?
If you die without a will, you are considered “intestate,” and you have no control over who is in charge of your estate, or who inherits your estate. In NJ, any family member that is “next of kin” can apply to the Surrogate to be appointed Administrator of your estate. Next of kin can be a child, parent, or spouse; or if none of those persons qualify, then a sibling, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle or cousin may be appointed. You do not choose who is appointed, it is left to your family to decide. Typically, the person who is appointed must be able to qualify for a bond, so the person must have good credit.
The assets of an intestate estate are distributed to heirs according to state law. Depending on your specific family situation when you died, your estate is not necessarily distributed 100% to your spouse or to your children. This is especially true in second marriages where one spouse had children from a previous marriage. This also means that your estate may be distributed to people you did not wish to inherit, or to children that are not old enough to fully manage an inheritance.
If you have children that are under 18, a Last Will and Testament will also name a guardian for your children, so that you can be sure that the right person is taking care of them after you die. Without a guardian designation, any person who is next of kin can apply to the court to be appointed guardian of your children. Most people would rather not leave this important decision up to the courts.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document that allows another person to act on your behalf. It is a powerful tool in preparing for the future. A General Durable Power of Attorney is the broadest type, allowing another person to act on your behalf in nearly all situations, regardless of whether you are incapacitated. A Springing Power of Attorney appoints another person to act on your behalf only when you are incapacitated. A Limited Power of Attorney (also called a “Special Power of Attorney”) is a kind of Power of Attorney that grants authority to another for a limited or specific purpose.
What is a Medical Directive and Medical Power of Attorney?
A Medical Directive (sometime also called a “Living Will”) is a document that outlines your wishes for end of life care. A Medical Power of Attorney (sometimes also called a “Medical Proxy”) is a document that appoints a specific person to make medical decisions for you when you are not able to because of mental or physical disability. Unlike a General Durable Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney is only effective if you are under a disability.
What can I give away in my Will?
Your “probate estate” is made up of assets that you own in your own name, such as real property, bank accounts, investment or brokerage accounts, stocks and bonds, personal property, cars, and boats. It does not include assets that are owned jointly with another person (such as a joint bank account or a jointly owned home), or life insurance policies, retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401ks, pensions, or annuities. Jointly owned assets typically go to the joint owner after your death. Life insurance, annuities and retirement assets will go to the named beneficiary on the asset. An important part of any estate plan is to review these assets and beneficiary designations to make sure they are up to date.
What does an Executor do?
An Executor is the person you choose to probate your will and pay your debts, and transfer your assets to the people you have named as beneficiaries under your Last Will and Testament.
What does a Trustee do?
A Trustee is a person you choose to administer a trust. It is separate role from an Executor or a Guardian.
Will my estate or heirs have to pay taxes?
It depends on what state you live in, how much your estate is worth when you die, and who you leave your estate to. If you live In NJ, there is currently no estate tax. There is an inheritance tax, but it is only imposed on bequests to siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, step-grandchildren, and friends. Parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, spouses, and charities are all exempt from inheritance tax in NJ.
Are there any special considerations for step-children, second marriages, blended families and other “modern families”?
Modern families may have unique circumstances that require careful planning to make sure that your estate ends up where you want it to go. A simple “sweetheart” will, in which an entire estate is left to a spouse, may inadvertently disinherit your children. There are a variety of ways to make sure your estate goes where you want it to, including testamentary trusts, life estates, and revocable and irrevocable trusts.
Do I need a Revocable Trust?
In NJ, probate is a relatively simple and inexpensive process, and most families will not need a revocable trust just to avoid probate. However, there are situations in which a revocable trust may be warranted. For example, if your estate distribution scheme is complex, or you do not wish for your affairs to be a matter of public record, a Last Will and Testament that leaves your estate to a Revocable Trust may be right for you.
Do I need an Irrevocable Trust?
Irrevocable Trusts are a valuable tool to help plan for future taxes and Medicaid. Because these types of trusts are irrevocable, it is important that you understand why you would need one, and be careful about what assets you put in the trust.
I have a family member with special needs. How does that affect my estate plan?
There are special considerations for special needs family members. Certain benefits that your special needs family member may receive, such as Medicaid, may be jeopardized or cut off altogether if the family member receives a bequest. You should discuss setting up a special needs trust to make sure that your special needs family member continues to receive their government benefits and can also benefit from your bequest. If you are a guardian of a family member that has been declared an incapacitated adult, you may also need to consider asking the court to appoint a co-guardian to help ease the transition of care for that person.
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“I feel fortunate to have found someone so trusting and caring to help me with my Will and Estate Planning. Melanie made the process easy and understandable. I will definitely call her again if other legal needs arise.”
NJ, 08057< div class=”country-name”>United States
“We worked with Melanie on our Will and found her to be very knowledgeable and helpful explaining our options and the legalese in the documents. She made a sometimes awkward topic for couples to discuss rather painless!”
–Matt & Kim Bunn 8/21/16
“We had the pleasure of working with Melanie to update our will and a few other estate planning documents. She took the time to explain everything and answered all of our questions. We highly recommend her if you need to do some estate planning.”
“I engaged Melanie for services of my Aunt’s Estate. We found her thru her website as we are in FL. She was very easy to work with, prompt with responding to emails, knowledgeable of the law and worked hard at the closing of the house in NJ. She walked me thru the whole process and kept me informed the whole way. Being out of town, I felt confident in giving her power of attorney to act on my behalf. She is a gem of a lawyer.”
5.0 Stars – Great Experience with Melanie and MPAD
“I was very impressed with Melanie . My wife and I did some Estate Planning with Melanie back in the April timeframe. She was easy to work with, extremely personable, and very experienced in New Jersey Estate Planning law. Not only were we pleased with her work, she was extremely timely and exceeded all of our expectations. I would highly recommend Melanie to anyone looking for guidance and assistance in putting together a will, Estate Plan, etc.”
–Joe O 6/29/15
5.0 Stars – Very Satisfied
“Melanie was very professional with a friendly and compassionate flare. She was thorough in her explanations and was patient with us if we didn’t understand. She met with us an additional time to ensure we had full clarity. She was very knowledgeable in the field of estate planning. Communication was timely via email/telephone.”
–Satisfied Client 4/20/15
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