It is estimated that at least 55% of all Americans will die without a Will, losing the chance to make important choices regarding their assets and in many cases, the care and well being of their loved ones. With no Will in place, the Court relies on estate law to determine how your estate will be managed, since there is no way of knowing your priorities or intentions. The attorneys at D’Arcy Johnson Day can help you draft the plans that will protect your possessions, your heirs, and your legacy.
A Comprehensive Plan – Estate Planning Documents
Most Americans do not have the proper Estate Planning documents that protect your loved ones and your estate. At DJD, we recommend and prepare the necessary Estate Planning documents that honor your wishes and ensure a smooth division of your assets.
A Last Will and Testament is the most important document in any estate plan. The Will appoints the people who will make sure that your wishes and directions are facilitated (the Executor) and also states how you want your assets to be disbursed. If you have minor children, you should consider appointing a Guardian who will take care of your children. A Will can be drafted to protect your children by creating a Testamentary Trust which protects any money that you may leave for the benefit of your children. When a Testamentary Trust is created, you also appoint a Trustee to make sure that the Trust funds are handled properly and pursuant to your direction.
We also recommend an Advanced Medical Directive which appoints a health care representative to follow your directions regarding your medical care in the event you are unable to do so.
The third document we recommend is a Durable Power of Attorney. This document appoints an Attorney-in-Fact to handle all of your financial affairs in the event you are unable to do so. It is considered “durable” because it only comes into effect when two physicians certify that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Helping During a Difficult Time – Estate Administration and Litigation
The attorneys at DJD understand their clients’ needs during the difficult time when a loved one or person close to them passes away. We guide our clients through the Probate and Administration Process by offering many services in this area. Our attorneys offer Wills to the Surrogate for probate; aid in getting Executors and Administrators appointed; help in gathering the assets of the deceased for distribution to the rightful heirs; participate in the valuation, sale and liquidation of assets pursuant to the deceased’s wishes; advise the appointed fiduciaries of their responsibilities under New Jersey Law; work with accountants in the preparation of Inheritance and Estate Tax returns; and prepare formal and informal accountings along with all other documents necessary to close an estate properly.
Unfortunately, disputes often arise during the probate and administration process. That is why DJD attorneys stand by their clients to make sure the process is fair and equitable and all of the assets are distributed properly. We represent clients in Will contests, filing Caveats, disputes over who should be appointed as a fiduciary of the deceased’s estate and making sure that the assets are devised to the right person. We litigate these types of cases in the Probate Parts in many different New Jersey counties and have been very successful in protecting our clients as fiduciaries and in making sure that they are distributed their rightful share of the estate.