When working with funeral homes to complete the Death Certificate, make sure they are using as the person's address, the address of their home and not that of a temporary care facility or hospital. It may be that the person died in a particular town and county, but to properly probate the estate, the Death Certificate should reflect the address of the person's home or domicile.
Our Blog is our way of helping you make sense of what may otherwise be a perplexing or confusing situation in which you may find yourself. But don't despair. Although you may think you are the only one experiencing some type of difficulty or hardship, if you look around, you will see that others are as well. It is said that "what is most personal is most general” — and that is true.
It's in the spirit of making the personal seem more general that we write these blogs so that you gain a better awareness of the issues you may be confronting. And in the process of gaining awareness, you begin to develop a realistic approach to whatever it is you are seeking to accomplish. Of course, these Blog posts are no substitute for one-on-one legal advise; however, you may find them useful, if for no other reason than to put your concerns into the proper context. From there, additional research and consultation with legal professionals can follow.
We hope you find these blogs helpful as you navigate through life's many challenges and opportunities!
P.S. if there are any topics you would like us to address, please send us a note to that effect.
Having a will is important as it helps you plan for the inevitable – your death. However, if you already have a will, making sure your will is current and up to date is just as important. Life events such as acquiring significant assets, changing who the executors, guardians and trustees will be, adding or eliminating beneficiaries and the death of a spouse or partner are all good reasons to consider re-doing and updating your will.
Whether a person deserves an inheritance is not the same as whether they are entitled to an inheritance. If you want someone to receive a gift from you when you die, make a will that clearly states this. Do not rely on others to "do the right thing."
They say an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Boy is that so true in the world of estate planning. It is so simple to establish a basic estate plan that can prevent many unfortunate legal hardships down the road, yet surprisingly many people put off doing it. I always like to say - TAKE control while you are IN control!
Many people put off doing wills and creating an estate plan because they are not sure who to appoint to serve as their Executor, or the Guardians and Trustee for their minor children. Making the task more challenging is when the lawyer asks the client who they want as alternates. It's at that poi...
Estate planning and charitable gifts go hand in hand. Leaving money to worthy charities is a great way of supporting the causes in which you believe while also minimizes the amount of taxes your estate may have to pay. Sometimes even a modest financial gift to a small, but inspiring charity can be transformative!
Estate planning is a process that involves making plans for the distribution of your assets after you die as well as naming who you want to serve as the guardian and trustee for your minor children and grandchildren. Estate planning does not need to be complicated and with the right guidance, can be a relatively easy process to navigate.
Intestacy is a legal term that refers to the situation where someone dies without a will. When a person dies without having made a will, his or her estate is said to pass by "intestacy". In other words, it's distributed according to the state's laws of intestacy. In most cases, your estate will pass is a way you may not have wanted. So to avoid that, all you need to do is prepare a will. Simple.
A codicil is just a fancy name for an amendment to an existing will. Years ago when wills were handwritten (yes that was many years ago!) or prepared on a typewriter, codicils were more prevalent since no one wanted to re-write or re-type an entire will to only make a minor revision, like naming a new guardian or trustee for your children. It was much easier to simply amend the old will by adding a one-page codicil.
A client-centered “innovative” law firm is laser focused on three client expectations: Is my lawyer listening to me? Can I effectively communicate with my lawyer when it's convenient for me, the client? Is my lawyer working diligently on my file?
As we close out Mental Health Awareness Month with our efforts to raise awareness, and in follow up to our last blog The 3 Documents Your Need In Your Estate Plan, in this article we offer information on how to create a fourth kind of document to consider creating alongside your estate planning documents, which is called a psychiatric advance directive (PAD). A PAD is a legal tool that allows a person with mental illness to state their preferences for treatment in advance of a crisis. They can serve as a way to protect a person's autonomy and ability to self-direct care. Creating a PAD is an essential step to protect your rights and to ensure you receive the care you want if you currently have, or are ever diagnosed, with a mental illness. A PAD is an official document that outlines your preferences for how you want to be treated in the event that you are ever unable to make decisions for yourself.
An estate plan should consist of three basic documents: 1) a Last Will and Testament; 2) an Advance Directive for Medical Care; and 3) A Durable General Power of Attorney. Very inexpensive insurance for when you die and in the event become disabled.
A Medical Advance Directive is a very important document since it let's us know how you feel about end of life treatment as well as who you want to make medical decisions for you when you cannot. It should be part of everyone's estate plan.
Listening to someone's story to get a better understanding of their situation and what they want to accomplish is just as important as the ultimate legal advice a lawyer gives to his or her client. There is no substitute for taking the time to listen to what another person has to say and showing them that you care enough to hear them out. Care always precedes the cure!
When the month of May rolls around, we are reminded of the importance of mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month is an important awareness initiative in the United States that takes place every year in May. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, our team at Serra Law Group is ta...
Executors in New Jersey are entitled to statutory commissions that range from 5% down to 2% of the gross value of the estate, depending on the size of the estate. Commissions at a rate of 6% may also be taken on any income the estate may general prior to final distributions being made.
Probate assets are assets that pass through your will while non-probate assets pass outside your will. You should know how each of your assets will be distributed when you die so that your testamentary intent will be carried out.
Unfortunately, even death does not prevent you from being taxed in New Jersey. While New Jersey no longer has an estate tax, it still has an Inheritance Tax that applies to certain beneficiaries, including siblings, nieces, nephews and other more remote family members and friends. It is important that you know how the Inheritance Tax works so that your will is drawn up to handle this tax the way you would like.
The annual federal gift tax exclusion is now $16,000 per year per recipient and the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption is now $12.06 million. New Jersey abolished the estate tax in 2018, but still has a Inheritance Tax that applies in certain circumstances.
A probate attorney represents clients in settling an estate after a person dies, while an estate planning attorney represents people in preparing their estate plan. They are separate disciplines, though in certain cases, it may be advantageous to retain an attorney who has expertise in both areas since the insight gleaned from one discipline may be used to the client’s advantage in the other. The law can be very nuanced for sure!
Elder caregivers should be given special thanks for the work they do to make sure the folks they serve are protected and cared for properly. It's a difficult job to be sure, but one that is most gratifying when you know you have made the life of a vulnerable person better. That should be our life's mission each and every day.