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The importance of estate plans with an inheritance -- Part II

Estate plans are complex instruments that can be confusing to a great number of people. There are multiple subsets to any estate plan and dealing with wills, trusts, inheritance and other matters related to it can leave family members in dispute. A recent post discussed the importance of inheritance estate plans. This post will follow up by discussing other issues that should be accounted for by New Jersey residents as they formulate this crucial document and decide on how it should be done.

Minor children who have been left behind and given a large amount of money after a parent has died could lead to trouble. Parents who decide to leave money to their minor children must understand that the court will name a property guardian to supervise them. The child will be able to use this money when he or she is deemed an adult. In New Jersey that will be when he or she turns 18. Inexperience can lead to financial overspending and deplete the money. A trust might be beneficial in such a case.

Real estate can be exceedingly profitable, but the deed and how it is passes along to heirs is important. The child could be left vulnerable by inheriting a property. This can be linked to taxes or liens. Understanding real estate laws and how they affect heirs when inheriting a property is key. A health-car directive - also referred to as a living will - is a document that lists the person's wishes if they become incapacitated. While it is difficult to think about, having someone trustworthy who can make these decisions is an essential part of an estate plan.

Naming a power of attorney will also be useful in the event of becoming incapacitated as it lets the medical and financial affairs be handled by someone else. The two are often separated. Finally, the heirs being able to find the documents and have them all organized is an understated problem. If the assets are saved somewhere - a filing cabinet, a desk, a safe - it is imperative to let heirs know where they are.

Of course, all these issues can leave a person feeling overwhelmed just when thinking about them. Being organized is not enough. Having legal assistance from an attorney who is experienced with estates and everything that goes along with their distribution after death is imperative and should not be left to the last minute.

Source: cnbc.com, "Warren Buffett has an estate plan. You should, too," Sarah O'Brien, July 18, 2017

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