Articles Posted in Hoboken Estate Planning & Wills


Recently, published an article that asked a very timely question: “Do you need a will because of coronavirus?” The reality is that, even if we delete the qualifier “because of coronavirus,” the answer is almost always a vociferous ”yes!” Whether there’s an ongoing pandemic or not, you need a will or trust. Whether you are in compromised health or not, you need a will or trust. Whatever your situation or the world’s situation, it is extremely likely that, if you don’t already have one, you need a will or a trust, and should reach out to an experienced Hoboken estate planning attorney without delay about your goals and needs.

In the article, the author took a look at a couple from Wall in their mid 50s. The couple had no children, but did have some clear estate planning goals, including that they wanted their assets to go to their nieces and nephews after they died. They had not given much thought to estate planning prior to the pandemic, and had created neither wills nor a trust, according to the article.

The article gives readers much food for thought. For one thing, the article touched upon the concern that many who are motivated to obtain a will or trust may be feeling right now; which is, can I still get a will or trust with the current restrictions in place?

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When you’ve decided that you are ready to start estate planning, it is important to choose carefully. You need someone to listen to your circumstances, needs and goals, to provide you with clear, understandable advice about how best to achieve your objectives, and then to provide you with the legal documents needed to meet your goals and distribute your property according to your wishes.

Amidst the countless New Jersey estate planning attorneys providing that kind of effective legal representation every day, there is also a significant risk to citizens – particularly seniors – from less scrupulous people. A case that came before the Appellate Division court (Case No. A-4675-16T3), and was earlier reported upon by, laid out a scenario that is common. It started with a representative of an “estate planning” entity coming to the senior’s home. This “estate planner” was a salesperson who persuaded the senior to sign up for estate planning services, which consisted of a living trust and certain other legal documents.

The saleswoman in the case completed an information form and transmitted it to an attorney. The attorney conducted a brief (eight minute) consultation by telephone and then drafted the trust and other documents. After that, the saleswoman returned to the home with the client’s legal documents in order to notarize them. While she was there, though, she also invested several hundred thousand dollars of the client’s money in two annuities that she was authorized to sell. The $222,000 sum represented nearly half of all of the client’s assets outside the value of her home.

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A few years ago, the New York Times published an article entitled, “Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff and Children Who Don’t Want It.” The topic is an issue that, if not uniquely modern, is certain something happening with increased frequency lately. The cold reality is that, just because you value or cherish a particular asset, that doesn’t mean your children will. To avoid your things going to people who don’t need and don’t want them, you need a detailed will or living trust to guide the distribution of your assets after your death, and the right Hoboken estate planning attorney to help you achieve your goals.

More recently, published a letter from a person who had that kind of unfortunate estate planning problem. The author’s father had recently died with no will or trust. When you die with no will, there is a state statute that will guide how your assets are distributed.

In this son/daughter’s case, the intestate process had resulted in him/her receiving the father’s timeshare. There are various ways this could have happened. For example, this could have been the result if the father was a widower and the writer was the father’s only surviving child, as the law would have distributed all the father’s probate assets to the child.

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Each family and family dynamic is unique in its own way. Yours may be a blended family, may have people who are not related by blood but definitely are “family,” or may have people who are legal kin but aren’t really part of the family. Any of these scenarios is a good reason to make sure you consult an experienced Hoboken estate planning attorney without delay. The state’s laws that govern what happen to your assets if you die with no will or trust probably won’t do what you want. With the right will or trust, you can make sure that the legacy you leave behind will go to the people you want.

This need to engage in careful estate planning is especially important if you have ongoing financial obligations that are governed by contracts, like a child support agreement. The estate of a Monmouth County man is a good example. K.O. was the father of one son, born to R.L. in August 2000. K.O. also had a daughter, S.O., from a different relationship.

The father and the son’s mother never married, but they did work out a child support agreement in 2008 in New York. That document said that the father would (1) pay $3,000 per month in child support until the son turned 21 or was “earlier emancipated,” (2) would pay $7,500 annually into a college fund for the son and (3) would also cover the son’s child care costs and unreimbursed medical expenses.

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “get it in writing,” which is a commonly used phrase in the world of business. That advice also can apply to estate planning. The best way to make sure that your goals for your estate become reality after you die is to put them on paper while you’re alive. To make sure you have a well-written estate plan that will achieve the outcome you want, be sure to retain the services of a knowledgeable Hoboken estate planning attorney, who can show you the best way to get to your desired goal.

A case from Middlesex County shows the pitfalls that can occur when you don’t put anything in writing. R.F. was a man who died with no will or trust. His only legal heir was a brother who lived on Long Island. R.F. did have a stepson, but he never adopted the stepson, so the stepson was not a legal heir.

Because R.F. left behind no will or trust, all of his assets were distributed by what’s called the “intestacy” statutes. Those are laws that look to identify the closest class of heirs at law, and to distribute the deceased’s assets to them. In this case, that meant a distribution of 100% of the estate to the brother on Long Island.

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The coronavirus pandemic has created massive problems for people in all walks of life. That includes people who have lost someone and now must, in addition to everything else, undertake the process of probate, which has itself been rendered much more complicated by the new COVID-19-based safety requirements. To make sure you are handling the probate process correctly, even in this time of pandemic, look to a skilled Hoboken probate attorney to guide the way.

There’s some very good news for people in nearby Morris County. The Surrogate’s Office there recently created a set of “newly designed COVID-19 compliant probate rooms” and, in conjunction with the opening of those spaces, began accepting appointments for in-person probate in early October, reported. The county has also set up a “fully remote” probate option, which is scheduled to become available in November, according to’s report.

Here in Hudson County, in-person applications remain “suspended… until further notice.” The Hudson County Surrogate’s Office is offering services via telephone, fax, and regular mail, according to the Surrogate’s website.

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Opinions are like noses… almost everyone has one, but they usually have a couple of holes in them. That’s true when it comes to estate planning. You may hear some “financial guru” on the radio opining that you don’t need an attorney when it comes time to create your will; that you should just get a form off the internet or from the bookstore instead. Maybe that’ll work sometimes, but often it won’t, especially if unexpected problems should arise. When the unexpected does arise, that’s when legal representation provided by an experienced Hoboken estate planning attorney can be valuable beyond measure. For example, if your will is challenged in court after you die, the service your attorney provided at the time (and even after you’re gone) can be essential to having your planning goals and desires reach fruition.

As a real-life illustration, consider this will challenge case from Mercer County. S.W. was a financially successful man who amassed considerable wealth. He was married twice. The first produced a daughter and the second lasted more than 25 years until his death.

Two years after S.W. and his second wife wed, he executed a will. That 1992 will split his estate roughly 50-50 between the second wife and the daughter. S.W. changed his estate plan three times between June 2014 and his death in March 2016. A June 2014 will gave everything to the daughter. A November 2014 will gave everything to the second wife.

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Two of the most common questions when it comes to estate plans are: do I need one and, if I do, when should I start? For the vast majority of people, the answers to these questions are quite simple. They are “yes” and “now.” Nearly everyone can benefit by doing some form of estate planning and, as none of us (young or old) are promised tomorrow, there’s no time like the present to take control of the distribution of your assets after your death and protect those you care about. To make sure the estate plan you create will achieve the objectives you have, be sure to contact a knowledgeable Hoboken estate planning attorney who can show you the most effective ways to realize your goals.

Sometimes, the deaths of celebrities and the estate plans of celebrities can serve as important cautionary tales for the rest of us. They can make for a sort of “what not to do” story.

This, arguably, was the case with Argentine soccer superstar Diego Maradona. In late November, the famous footballer passed away at age 60. According to the BBC, Maradona’s estate reportedly included a “portfolio of properties, lucrative image rights and an amphibious tank from Belarus.”

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Engaging in proper estate planning can benefit almost all New Jerseyans. It can allow you to ensure control of your assets, benefit the people and charities you hold dear and maybe even save your family money when it comes to so-called “death taxes.” There are various methods and processes that can help you do this, and an experienced Hoboken estate planning attorney can help you pick out which one is best for you.

In January 2021, Americans witnessed a new presidential administration taking control of the executive branch. With that transfer of power will come a changed focus in terms of policy priorities, as the Biden administration focuses on Democratic priorities and moves away from the Republican priorities of the Trump administration.

One area where priorities will likely change is tax policy, as Bloomberg Tax recently reported. Under the Trump Administration, the estate tax exemption swelled to more than $11.5 million in 2020. That, of course, means that very few people are currently subject to paying federal estate taxes, as only a very small percentage of estates have that amount of wealth.

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Opinions about revocable living trusts vary, even among legal professionals. Many attorneys will focus upon the multiple potential benefits a well-written trust can unlock. Opponents may highlight the damage that a poorly written trust can do. In reality, the key to having a revocable living trust that is successful is to work with the right Hoboken estate planning attorney and ensure that the trust agreement you receive is a well-written document custom-tailored to meet your needs and achieve your objectives.

No one wants to think about their loved ones fighting in court over their estate after they die, but it does happen. The most important thing when it comes to these court challenges is not to fret about the challenge itself (which you can’t control) but to focus on ensuring that you have a plan that, even in the face of legal action, will achieve your goals (which you can control.)

A recent court case from Central Jersey shows an example of a well-done estate plan. In 1996, R. and M.A., a husband and wife, established their family living trust. The trust agreement document made it very clear that the trust existed for the benefit of the couple during their lifetimes and then for the benefit of their two children, B. and D.… but only after both parents had died.

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