Category: Estate Planning

Your New Jersey Estate Planning Checklist

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Your New Jersey Estate Planning Checklist

Estate planning is one of the best ways to set your affairs in order so you can protect what matters most, even in the event of an untimely death. When you draft a will and take other steps of the estate planning process, you should consider how you want to distribute your resources and minimize loss to taxation.

Additionally, estate planning may seem overwhelming, but it’s necessary. Our estate planning checklist can help you tackle the process.

Avoid Common Mistakes With Our Estate Planning Checklist

Estate planning is a necessary tool for people of all wealth levels

Even if you don’t have a massive estate to distribute upon your death, you’ll want to make it easy for your survivors to wrap up your affairs. If you don’t take the necessary steps during life, your assets could get stuck in probate court or distributed improperly.

In addition to planning where to allocate your financial assets, you should consider your property and even your online presence or digital assets in your estate planning.

Plan for incapacity as well as death

You might think of estate planning in terms of how you’ll allocate your assets after you die, but it’s equally important to consider how you’ll transfer decision-making and asset access to a power of attorney.

You can also establish an advance health care directive to make it clear how you want your affairs to be handled in the event of your incapacity.

Consider childcare

Consider Childcare

It’s important to make a plan that accounts for your children’s care if you die before they become independent. You can establish a guardian and then set money aside in a trust to ensure the guardian will have the funds to adequately care for your children.

Write a letter of intent

Letters of intent are less important than wills or trusts and often aren’t recognized at the state level. However, it’s a good idea to write a letter to your executor or beneficiary detailing how you want your affairs to be managed in the event that your will is invalid, or your assets get hung up in probate court.

Name a beneficiary

Name a Beneficiary

Your insurance plans may not be included in your will, but you still want to ensure your funds go to the right person. Name a mentally sound beneficiary at least 21 years old to your insurance and 401(k) plans.

You should also assign a contingent beneficiary to protect your assets in the event that your primary beneficiary dies or becomes mentally unfit before your funds can be allocated.

Don’t do it alone

Estate planning requires meticulous documentation, and everything must be done according to state law to ensure the documents hold up legally. It’s important to get legal help as you draft and sign the important documents associated with estate planning.

What you’ll need to consider for New Jersey estate planning will differ from estate planning in other states, so it’s important that you get legal advice from experts well-versed in New Jersey law.

Contact Lyons and Associates, P.C. or call (908) 575-9777 for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys make estate planning simple and water-tight so you can have peace-of-mind with your affairs in order.

Retirement Account Rule Changes Under the CARES Act

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First Same Sex Couple to Marry in Northern Ireland

Lyons and Associates is happy to collaborate with Josh Murray, CFP of Tupler Financial in Bridgewater to provide financial tips to our clients in these unprecedented times. Please click here to read his presentation on “Retirement Account Rule Changes Under the CARES Act.”

During the COVID-19 Pandemic Notaries Can Perform Their Duties Remotely in New Jersey

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Couples With A Final Restraining Order Will Soon Be Able To Mediate Across The State

Written by Chris Ann Wright, Esq.

In New Jersey, the Legislature passed an act allowing oaths, affirmations and affidavits to be taken without endangering people’s health on a temporary basis. Using technology, a notary public can perform his or her duties using communication technology. However, not all oaths and signatures can be taken or notarized electronically. For example, in family law matters such as adoption and divorce, certain oaths, signatures and notarization of those signatures must be done in person.

The new law gives a step by step procedure for notarizing a signature electronically.

  1. The notary must connect with the affiant through both sight and sound technology.
  2. The notary must confirm the identity of the person who he or she is remotely verifying. This can be done by:
  3. Personal knowledge;
  4. Credible witness;
  5. Identity proofing.
  6. The notary must confirm that the record before the notary is the same as the record the affiant executed by signature.
  7. The notary or someone acting on his or her behalf must create an audio-visual recording of the notarial act. This includes the signing of the document, taking proof of the affiant’s identity and signing as the notary.
  8. When the notary affixes his or her name to the document, he or she must make note of the fact that technology was used to notarize and the type of technology.
  9. The notary must save the audio-visual recording of the notarization for at least ten (10) years.

Once Governor Murphy rescinds the Public Health Emergency Order of March 9, 2020, the above law regarding electronic notarization will expire and notaries will go back to following the original law where their duties were conducted in person. At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we understand these are difficult times and things are changing quickly. If you need assistance regarding family law or estate planning matters, please contact us online or call us at 908-575-9777 to schedule a free consultation.

Life During COVID-19: The Importance of Designating a Power of Attorney

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Protect your credit after your divorce

Written by Joanna R. Adu, Esq.

In Part III of our Life During COVID-19 series we will discuss the purpose of having a General Durable Power of Attorney and why it is so important that you (yes, you reading this right now) have one as part of your estate plan.

Circumstances like the current COVID-19/ Coronavirus pandemic are stark reminders of how critical and beneficial it is to have your estate plan in place should you suddenly become ill and incapacitated. Thus far in this crisis, the world has unfortunately witnessed thousands of people become ill with the Coronavirus to the extent that they quickly require hospitalization. Unfortunately, in circumstances like these, the rest of your life does not automatically stop because you have become ill. This is why it is extremely important to designate the person who can address all other areas of your life, which may include working with your mortgage lender or landlord, utility companies, credit card companies, banks, etc., when you are unable to do so.

A General Durable Power of Attorney is the document in which you name the person(s) authorized to essentially step into your shoes and act on your behalf with regard to the matters, and under the circumstances, outlined in that document. The designated person is commonly referred to as an agent or attorney-in-fact. The authority bestowed within your power of attorney may include authority to pay your bills, have access to your financial accounts, manage real property, run your business, receive income or other payments, and/or institute litigation, among a variety of other authorities and powers that should be tailored to your circumstances.

Because a power of attorney provides another person with a significant amount of authority to act on your behalf, choosing the right person is critical. The selected person, or persons, should be someone that you trust, is responsible, diligent, and detail-oriented, among a variety of other qualities that may be particularly important to you.

In creating your General Durable Power of Attorney, you may decide to have the power of attorney become effective immediately upon its execution; or, you may decide to have what is known as a “Springing” power of attorney. A springing power of attorney does not “spring” into effect until the specified number of health care professionals has found you to be incapacitated such that you are unable to handle your own affairs. There are pros and cons associated with each type of power of attorney and as such, it is important to review all considerations based on your circumstances with an experienced attorney.

The skilled and knowledgeable Bridgewater family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have extensive estate planning experience in addressing this particular issue. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment today. For your convenience we offer telephone consultations which allow you to speak with an experienced attorney about your estate planning needs from the comfort and security of your home.

Life During COVID-19: Memorializing Future Health Care Decisions in a Living Will

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Written by Joanna R. Adu, Esq.

In Part II of our Life During COVID-19 series I will address how you can memorialize your future health decisions and wishes through a living will (also known as an Advance Health Directive or Advance Health Care Instruction Directive). The continuation of the current health care crisis stemming from COVID-19 (otherwise known as Coronavirus) has resulted in many individuals thinking about what may happen should they find themselves hospitalized with Coronavirus or another illness.

The New Jersey Legislature has expressly acknowledged and codified the right of adults to control the decisions related to his or her own health care in collaboration with health care professionals and so long as the adult has mental capacity. In that regard, New Jersey law affords adults the right and ability to plan ahead for these health care decisions through a living will or advance directive. A living will provides you with the opportunity to memorialize and express what you want to happen should a circumstance arise where you unable to make the decision directly. This may include being diagnosed with a terminal illness, being in a coma or otherwise incapacitated, and/or becoming reliant on life support, among a variety other unfortunate situations. Through your living will you can address whether in these types of situations you would want to continue to receive medical treatment, medications, CPR, mechanical breathing assistance, etc., or you would want to have these treatments withheld even if doing so would hasten your death.

Although thinking about these types of situations can be very unpleasant (to say the least), a living will can be the most important estate planning document for many families. In addition to ensuring that your loved ones and health care providers are aware of your desires in deciding on health care treatments, memorializing your health care decisions in advance relieves the burden from your health care representative, who is often a close family member, from being solely responsible for making a difficult, emotional and potentially life-ending health care decision should the need arise.

The skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have extensive estate planning experience in addressing this particular issue. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment today. For your convenience we offer telephone consultations which allows you to speak with an experienced attorney about your estate planning needs from the comfort and security of your home.

Life During COVID-19: The Importance of Naming a Health Care Proxy

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Life During COVID-19: The Importance of Naming a Health Care Proxy

The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic that has suddenly altered daily life in ways never before seen by recent generations. Millions of people around the globe are currently restricted to their homes absent necessary trips into the public, hundreds of thousands of people have been infected with what is commonly known as Coronavirus, and tens of thousands have died from this infection worldwide according to most recent statistics. These unfortunate and uncertain times should be a stark reminder of the need to ensure your affairs are in order so that your plans and wishes will be carried out should you become ill, incapacitated and/or otherwise unable to handle your own health care decisions.

A health care proxy, otherwise referred to as a health care representative, health care agent, etc. is the person you designate in an advance health care directive to stand in your shoes and make your healthcare decisions during those times that you are unable to make those critical health decisions. In this role, your designated health care proxy will make those healthcare decisions in accordance with your wishes as expressed in a living will or as you have otherwise expressed them to your proxy. This may include consenting or rejecting to experimental treatment and consenting or refusing certain treatments and/or medications or other necessary life-sustaining treatments.

Formally designating your desired health care proxy in an advance health care directive is important for everyone, but particularly for unmarried couples who desire to have their partner step in to make those medical decisions for them in times of incapacity. Since your partner is not classified as a family member or other next-of-kin, absent designation as your health care proxy, you will find that your loved one is not only excluded from participating in medical decision-making, but is also closed off from getting any medical information about you including your condition, treatment and status.

The skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have extensive estate planning experience in addressing this particular issue. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment today. For your convenience we offer telephone consultations which allows you to speak with an experienced attorney about your estate planning needs from the comfort and security of your home.

Written by Joanna R. Adu, Esq.