How a Will Attorney Can Bring You Peace of Mind
Even though a will attorney is not legally required for the creation of a valid will, a lawyer can help assuage some of the fears running throughout the process and can be very helpful in most situations.
A valid will
In New Jersey, the requirements for execution of a valid will includes three components:
- The will must be in writing (preferably not handwritten)
- The will must be signed by the person (testator) making the will
- The will must be witnessed by at least two adults
Reasons to consult with a will attorney
To explore the available options to pass assets to the next generation
A will attorney can assist with both wealth preservation and wealth protection. New Jersey has three possible taxes applicable to a will: inheritance, estate, and gift taxes. For example, depending on which inheritance tax bracket New Jersey imposes on a person’s finances, the amount the beneficiary receives can either increase or decrease.
This can be further influenced by their relationship to the decedent. Experience and understanding of the applicable taxes help plan for later generations and other respective family dynamics, messy or otherwise.
To ensure the will cannot be contested
Even though few wills are successfully challenged in New Jersey courts, when challenges occur, the ensuing litigation can become very complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. A will can be invalidated when it suffers from a flaw of some kind. Consulting a will attorney can ensure such flaws are not present, such as a forged signature, mental incapacitation, fraud, or undue influence.
To disinherit a spouse
Usually, a divorce operates as a legal revocation of any bequests that might be contained in the will, but in some instances, a certain provision will still be effective and will transfer some property to the spouse. If still legally married, specific disinheritance of a spouse in the will is possible but complicated because some laws can provide the spouse with valid legal claims to the property.
For example, New Jersey provides the surviving spouse with up to one-third of certain assets, sometimes referred to as an elective share. Consultation with a will attorney is recommended to make sure the elective share is properly waived, perhaps in the form of a post-nuptial or other similar agreement.
As an aside, because financial agreements such as life insurance policies and retirement plans are separate legally binding documents, they are not governed by the will and must be separately considered.
To give charitable donations
Charitable donations have become increasingly popular options for individuals who would rather donate their assets to important causes of their choosing. As a result, the options for donating these funds have increased and include direct charitable gifts, gift annuity, creation of a charitable trust, and formation of tax-exempt foundations.
Consultation with a will attorney can help ensure the correct option is selected to avoid possible taxes and ensure the charitable cause receives the highest possible amount of funds for their respective philanthropic cause.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with us, call our Sea Girt office at (732) 449-0449. Call Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C. today.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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