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New Jersey Estate Planning Attorneys

Moorestown Estate Planning Attorney

Planning For Life’s Uncertainties

Navigating through life’s uncertainties requires vision, meticulous planning, and foresight. Estate planning is crucial for preserving your wealth, protecting loved ones, and leaving a legacy marked by wisdom and care. It is not merely for the wealthy; everyone benefits from a well-tailored estate plan that reflects their wishes and needs. Whether you are just starting to plan for the future or looking to update an existing estate plan, our Moorestown estate planning attorney can provide valuable insights into the unique considerations and challenges of estate planning.

In New Jersey, laws and regulations uniquely shape asset distribution and inheritance. A knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney is your indispensable ally. Whether you are initiating the estate planning process or refining an existing plan, this page serves as a comprehensive guide. Here, we unfold the definition and critical components of estate planning, underscore its undeniable benefits, and spotlight the potential risks of neglecting this pivotal task.

You will gain insights into the value of comprehensive estate planning, understanding its role as a shield safeguarding your family from future financial and legal predicaments. We will also walk you through the vital elements constituting an estate plan under New Jersey law and illuminate the path toward choosing an attorney whose experience aligns with your specific requirements and objectives.

Embarking on estate planning might seem daunting, yet with professional counsel, it transitions into a straightforward, empowering endeavor. Take the initial step toward financial prudence and peace of mind today by delving into the information provided on this page, and discover how our New Jersey estate planning attorney can usher you towards a future where your assets and loved ones are given the protection they rightfully deserve.

Quick Summary:

  • Estate planning is crucial for preserving wealth, protecting loved ones, and leaving a legacy marked by wisdom and care.
  • It encompasses a range of legal and financial strategies beyond just creating a will, aiming to protect wealth, provide for loved ones, and ensure wishes are carried out.
  • Effective estate plans consist of various elements, including wills, trusts, power of attorney, living wills, and healthcare directives.
  • Estate planning offers benefits like financial security, assurance of well-being, probate avoidance, asset distribution control, protection for minors and dependents, and preparedness for unforeseen circumstances.
  • When a person dies without a will or an estate plan, New Jersey’s intestacy laws dictate asset distribution, which may not align with individual wishes.

Estate planning is a multifaceted process that demands careful consideration and strategic planning, making the guidance of our Moorestown estate planning attorney essential. Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about your estate planning options.

Understanding The Basics Of Estate Planning In NJ

Let us get started by demystifying what estate planning in New Jersey means. In simple terms, estate planning is your roadmap for overseeing your loved ones and possessions while you are rocking and rolling and when you are not around anymore. It is a complex process, but with proper guidance and planning, you can navigate New Jersey’s laws and regulations to create a comprehensive estate plan that provides peace of mind for you and your family.

Knowing the basics of estate planning is the first step towards securing your financial legacy, protecting your loved ones, and ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Our Moorestown estate planning attorney can help you understand the legal aspects and create a plan tailored to your situation.

A Quick Overview Of Estate Planning

Estate planning is not just about who gets your favorite watch or vacation home after you pass away. It is a comprehensive approach to managing and distributing your assets, providing for your family, and even deciding who will take care of your beloved pets both during your lifetime and after your passing.

Estate planning goes beyond just creating a will. It encompasses a range of legal and financial strategies designed to protect your wealth, provide for your loved ones, and ensure your wishes are carried out. It requires careful consideration of one’s unique circumstances, family dynamics, financial goals, and legal and tax implications.

What Are The Essential Components Of An Estate Plan?

An effective estate plan consists of several essential components that work together to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones. The exact contents of your estate plan will vary depending on your specific needs. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all estate plan, even though many online estate planning services will try to cram you into one.

However, there are a few things that most estate plans include:


This is a legal document where you get to say who gets what. It specifies how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It also allows you to name guardians for minor children and designate an executor to manage your estate. Without it, the state gets to decide, and they might not share your vision.


These are nifty tools that let you set aside assets for specific people or causes, often with nice tax benefits! A trust might be legally effective while you are alive or be funded at your death. There are many types of trusts, some of which are designed to reduce taxes while others help you control how assets are used after your death.

A trust usually supplements a will. It is not probated, but you can use it to leave property to people or charities. Common types of trusts include revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, and testamentary trusts.

Power of Attorney

This document ensures someone you trust can step in on your behalf when the time comes when you cannot make decisions for yourself. This document allows you to give an agent or attorney-in-fact the power to make specific financial, medical, or legal decisions for you. Many people create a POA to spring into effect when they are incapacitated, though you could also create one to go into effect immediately.

Living Will & Healthcare Directive

These documents give you a say in your medical care if you cannot communicate your wishes. A living will and healthcare directive outline your preferences for medical treatment in different situations, guiding your healthcare proxy and medical professionals.

New Jersey Specific Estate Planning Laws

Every state has its quirks, and New Jersey is no exception. For example, we have inheritance taxes here (on top of federal estate taxes), so planning is extra crucial to keep your heirs from getting a hefty tax bill. Also, there are unique rules about how and when assets are distributed, which our Moorestown estate planning lawyer can guide you through.

You may find this brief explanation of some crucial New Jersey laws regarding estate planning. This is by no means an exhaustive list or detailed explanation of the law.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is a tax imposed on the transfer of assets from a deceased individual’s estate to their beneficiaries. This tax is based on the value of the inheritance received by each beneficiary and is paid by the beneficiary, not the estate of the deceased person.

  • Overview: New Jersey is one of the few states with an inheritance tax. This tax is levied on certain inheritances, depending on the relationship between the deceased and the beneficiary. There are exemptions and reduced rates for particular beneficiaries, and surviving spouses and children are typically exempt from this tax.
  • Rate: The rate as of 2023 ranges from 11% to 16% and applies to estates worth $500 or more. The closer the familial relationship, the lower the rate, and some relatives (e.g., spouses, children) are entirely exempt.

Estate Tax

The estate tax is a tax levied on the total value of a deceased person’s estate, including all their assets, such as real estate, investments, bank accounts, personal property, and more. This tax is paid by the estate itself before the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.

  • Changes: Although New Jersey had an estate tax, it was repealed effectively on January 1, 2018. Individuals who died before this date with a taxable estate exceeding $2 million (the exemption limit for 2017) would still be subject to this tax.
  • Federal Implications: New Jersey residents are still subject to federal estate tax if their assets surpass the federal exemption threshold.

Intestacy Laws

Intestacy law, also known as the law of intestate succession, is a set of legal rules that dictate how a person’s assets and property are distributed after their death when they die without a will (intestate) or when their will does not fully dispose of all their assets. In such cases, the state dictates the distribution of the deceased’s assets.

Intestacy laws vary by jurisdiction, but they generally follow a predetermined order of inheritance based on the deceased person’s family relationships. Assets are distributed to close relatives in a specific order, beginning with the spouse and children, followed by other family members if there are no immediate relatives.

Probate Process

Probate is the legal process of proving the validity of a will, settling the estate’s debts, and distributing assets.

  • Simplified Probate: New Jersey offers a simplified probate process for smaller estates, reducing time and legal expenses.
  • Probate Exemptions: Certain assets, like those held in living trusts or joint tenancy, life insurance payouts, and retirement accounts, are not subject to the probate process.

Power Of Attorney Laws

A power of attorney is a legal instrument that allows one person (the principal) to grant another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on their behalf in legal, financial, or medical matters.

  • Overview: New Jersey recognizes durable powers of attorney, allowing individuals to appoint agents to make financial decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.
  • Specificity Required: The power of attorney document must include specific permissions for certain decisions, like gifting assets.

Advance Directive Laws

Advance directive laws in New Jersey govern the legal framework for creating and using documents that allow individuals to make decisions about their medical care and end-of-life treatment in advance. These documents ensure that one’s healthcare preferences are honored when one cannot make decisions themselves.

Two primary advance directives are available in New Jersey: living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare.

  • Living Wills: Residents can establish living wills, outlining their preferences for end-of-life medical care.
  • Health Care Proxy: Individuals can appoint a healthcare representative to make medical decisions on their behalf if they cannot do so.

Gift Tax

Gift tax is a tax levied by the government on transferring assets or property from one person (the donor or giver) to another person (the recipient) without receiving fair compensation in return.

  • No State Gift Tax: New Jersey does not impose its gift tax, but residents must know the federal gift tax and its implications.

Homestead Protections

While New Jersey does not offer specific homestead protection, residents can utilize the federal exemption during bankruptcy to protect a portion of their home’s equity.

While this provides an overview, estate planning law is complex and continually evolving, so you should always consult with our estate planning attorney in Moorestown, NJ, to understand the full implications of these laws on their situations and plans.

Estate Planning Is Not Just For The Wealthy

Estate planning is not reserved for the rich and famous. People often make the mistake of thinking if you have anyone or anything you care about, it is worth having a plan in place. From your home to your savings to your grandma’s ring, it is all part of your “estate.” Planning helps ensure these are taken care of according to your wishes.

Think of estate planning as a gift you give yourself and your loved ones—it is the comfort and certainty in knowing that whatever happens, there is a plan in place to take care of the people and things that matter most to you.

Do you still have questions, or are you ready to start planning? Contact us for more information or a consultation.

Advantages Of Estate Planning In New Jersey

While perceived as a tedious process, estate planning is undeniably crucial for residents of New Jersey. Estate planning offers plenty of benefits that significantly enhance your financial security and provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Unfortunately, incapacity or death can happen at any time. If you are incapacitated, an estate plan can help ensure you and your loved ones are properly cared for. You can also appoint people you trust to make critical decisions on your behalf.

Financial Security

Estate planning is an invaluable tool for preserving and allocating your assets strategically. This process not only aids in safeguarding your wealth but guarantees that your assets are distributed with minimal losses to taxes and legal fees.

Assurance Of Well-Being

The knowledge of a well-defined plan in place provides immeasurable peace of mind. This preemptive measure ensures certainty and comfort for your family, knowing that matters will proceed according to your explicit wishes.

In the event of your death, an estate plan can make sure you have a say in what happens to your property. Winding up your estate will be less time-consuming and stressful for those left behind.

Probate Avoidance

The often prolonged and expensive probate process can be efficiently circumvented through efficient estate planning. This approach facilitates a smoother transition of assets, relieving your family from potential legal complexities and financial burdens associated with probate.

Control Over Asset Distribution

Estate planning affords you autonomy to delineate the distribution of your assets precisely as you envision. You can specify who receives what and when ensuring your wishes are carried out.

Whether the beneficiaries are family members, friends, or charitable organizations, estate planning allows you to allocate your resources according to your priorities and values. Estate planning is a must if you want to protect your assets so your child’s spouse would not be able to access them in a divorce.

Protection For Minors And Dependents

For individuals with minor children or dependents, the importance of estate planning is accentuated. Establishing a legally sound and clear plan is imperative for their guardianship and financial support in your absence.

Preparedness For Unforeseen Circumstances

Life’s unpredictability necessitates the establishment of directives for your healthcare and finances, safeguarding your interests if you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions independently.

Estate planning is a dynamic process, adapting and evolving with the significant milestones and changes in your life. Each new life event—marriage, the birth of a child, or the start of a business—presents an opportunity to reassess and modify your estate plan to ensure its continued relevance and efficacy.

What Happens if You Die Without an Estate Plan?

If you die without an estate plan in New Jersey, the state’s intestacy laws will determine how your assets are distributed. Intestacy laws establish a default order of inheritance based on family relationships, and the distribution may not align with your specific wishes. Here are some consequences of dying without an estate plan in New Jersey:

  • A careless or reckless person could be named the personal representative of your estate, possibly compromising its value and harming your heirs.
  • Assets could go to individuals who do not know how to use them.
  • A person whom you want to cut out of your will entirely might inherit from you.
  • Your loved ones could have insufficient cash to support themselves after your death.
  • You might lose your home if you end up going into a nursing home.
  • You could disqualify a disabled child or grandchild from essential government benefits like Medicaid by leaving them assets that disqualify them under the government’s means test.
  • You might be kept alive on life support for years when you had hoped to die peacefully.

Should You Use A Qualified Estate Planning Attorney Or An Online Service To Prepare Your Estate Plan?

When planning for your estate’s future, you will find various online services offering easy and affordable estate planning solutions. While initially attractive, these platforms cannot provide the comprehensive, personalized legal assistance that a qualified estate planning attorney can offer.

Estate Planning Attorneys Provide A Customized Plan

Online services generally utilize a template approach, limiting your plan’s flexibility and customization. In contrast, a qualified attorney provides counsel meticulously tailored to your unique circumstances, assets, and estate planning objectives.

  • Personalized Approach:  Unlike the impersonal, one-size-fits-all templates online platforms rely upon, an attorney understands your specific needs and offers bespoke solutions.
  • In-Depth Consultation: Attorneys offer in-depth consultations, diving deep into your financial situation, family dynamics, and future goals to craft a plan that truly reflects your wishes.
  • Key Issues Addressed: An attorney can ensure that topics important to your family are addressed. For example, online forms may not ask about your special needs child and not cover the specific planning needed in this situation.

Estate Planning Attorneys Have A Comprehensive Understanding Of State Laws

Estate planning laws vary significantly from state to state, and New Jersey is no exception. A qualified estate planning attorney is well-versed in the intricacies of local legislation.

  • State-Specific Knowledge: With profound knowledge of New Jersey’s specific estate planning laws and regulations, an attorney ensures your plan’s compliance and effectiveness.
  • Legal Updates: Attorneys stay abreast of legal changes and amendments, ensuring your estate plan remains relevant and compliant over time. Laws change frequently, and choices you make on an online form may be unenforceable.

Estate Planning Attorneys have the Ability to Handle Complex Estate Planning

Online services are often inadequate for handling complicated estates, blended families, business owners, or special needs dependents. An experienced attorney navigates these complexities with precision.

  • Complex Assets: For estates with various asset types, including businesses, investments, or properties in multiple states, a qualified attorney can adeptly manage and plan for these complexities.
  • Unique Family Dynamics: Attorneys can create plans addressing the nuances of your family structure and dynamics, providing solutions for guardianship, trusts for dependents with special needs, and more.

Estate Planning Attorneys Provide Ongoing Support And Advice

Establishing a relationship with an estate planning attorney provides ongoing support and legal counsel for life’s unexpected changes, whereas online services offer no such continuity.

  • Life Changes: Whether it’s marriage, birth, divorce, or death, attorneys can promptly update your estate plan to reflect life’s inevitable changes.
  • Ongoing Support: In times of uncertainty or legal amendments, having an attorney means you have someone to turn to for advice and adjustments to your plan.

While online services may seem convenient and cost-effective, the value, depth, and personalized service a qualified estate planning attorney offers are unparalleled. Investing in legal advice today can protect your estate and provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones in the years to come.

Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey?

Estate planning is a critical financial and legal process that ensures your assets and wishes are protected and honored when you cannot manage them yourself or after your passing. In this process, it is highly advisable to seek the guidance of our Moorestown, NJ, estate planning attorneys at Posternock Apell, P.C. to help you navigate the complexities of state and federal laws, customize your plan to your unique circumstances, and ensure that your wishes are legally protected.

Here are some compelling reasons why you need an estate planning attorney in New Jersey:

  • Knowledge of State Laws: We have an in-depth knowledge of the state’s laws and can ensure that your plan complies with local legal requirements.
  • Avoiding Common Pitfalls: We can help you draft estate planning documents precisely to avoid unintended consequences or legal challenges.
  • Review and Updates: We can assist you in making necessary adjustments to your estate plan.

Knowing that your estate plan is well-crafted and legally sound can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. It can alleviate stress and uncertainty during difficult times. Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can help you achieve your estate planning goals.

Call Our Moorestown Estate Planning Attorneys Now!

Estate planning is far more than a matter of financial preparation. It is an essential process that empowers you to take control of your legacy, protect your loved ones, and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Whether you have significant wealth or modest assets, the benefits of estate planning are far-reaching, providing peace of mind, financial security, and a lasting legacy for future generations.

With the proper guidance from our Moorestown estate planning attorneys, creating an estate plan can be a fulfilling journey, a legacy-building endeavor, and a lasting gift to your loved ones. It is an investment in your family’s future, a celebration of your values, and a testament to your enduring care and wisdom.

At Posternock Apell, P.C., we are committed to addressing your unique estate planning concerns and providing personalized solutions. Whether you are struggling with the complexities of wills, trusts, or advance directives, our estate planning law firm is here to simplify the process and ensure your assets are protected. With our support, you can secure your financial future and leave a lasting impact for generations to come.

Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation and take the first step towards securing your legacy. We can also help you handle real estate, litigation, and business law cases.

Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions

What is estate planning?

Estate planning involves making preparations for the management and distribution of an individual’s assets upon their incapacitation or death. It includes creating wills and trusts, appointing beneficiaries, and setting up powers of attorney, among other arrangements.

Why is estate planning important?

It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, provides financial security for loved ones, minimizes taxes and legal expenses, and helps avoid familial conflicts over inheritance.

At what age should I start estate planning?

It is wise to start estate planning as soon as you have assets or dependents to protect, regardless of age. Life is unpredictable, and having a plan in place provides peace of mind and security for your loved ones.

Can I do estate planning by myself?

While creating an estate plan yourself is possible, consulting with a professional is advised due to the complex legal and financial considerations involved.

What documents are typically included in an estate plan?

Common documents include a will, durable power of attorney, living will, healthcare proxy, and possibly various trusts.

New Jersey-Specific Questions:

What are the specific estate planning laws in New Jersey I should be aware of?

New Jersey has specific laws related to inheritance tax, probate proceedings, intestacy, and power of attorney among others. Familiarizing yourself with these or consulting an attorney for guidance is crucial.

How does the New Jersey inheritance tax affect my estate plan?

The state imposes an inheritance tax ranging from 11% to 16% on certain inheritances. The rate and exemptions depend on the relationship between the deceased and the beneficiary.

Since New Jersey repealed its estate tax, how does it impact my estate planning?

With the repeal effective January 1, 2018, estates are no longer subject to state estate tax, potentially resulting in tax savings for the beneficiaries. Federal estate tax may still apply to larger estates. However, tax laws change regularly, and the inheritance tax law could be reinstated at any time. The federal estate tax also changes and could substantially impact your estate planning.

What happens if I die without a will in New Jersey?

Dying intestate means your assets will be distributed according to New Jersey’s intestacy laws, which may not align with your wishes. Typically, assets are allocated to close relatives in a specific order.

How does the probate process work in New Jersey?

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is distributed. If there is a will, assets are allocated according to the deceased’s wishes. Without a will, state intestacy laws take precedence.

Document-Related Questions:

What is the difference between a will and a living will?

A will outlines asset distribution after death, while a living will specifies preferences for end-of-life medical care if you cannot communicate your wishes.

How can I change my will?

Wills can be modified through codicils or by drafting a new will. Any changes must comply with New Jersey’s legal requirements for will validity.

Do I need a trust in addition to a will?

Trusts offer additional control over asset distribution, tax benefits, and privacy. Whether you need one depends on your assets, family situation, and specific estate planning goals.

What is a durable power of attorney, and why is it important?

A durable power of attorney allows a designated individual to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated, ensuring that your affairs are managed according to your wishes.

Can I use online templates for estate planning documents?

While online templates are accessible, they might not address your unique needs and New Jersey’s specific legal requirements, potentially leading to issues in the future.

Attorney-Related Questions:

Why should I hire an estate planning attorney?

An attorney provides advice, helps avoid legal pitfalls, offers personalized service, and supports you in navigating complex legal and financial considerations in estate planning.

What should I look for when choosing an estate planning attorney in New Jersey?

Consider their experience in New Jersey law, client reviews, range of services, communication style, and fee structure.

How often should I review my estate plan with an attorney?

Regular reviews are advisable, especially after major life events like marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or significant financial changes.

What should I bring to my initial consultation with an estate planning attorney?

Bring financial documents, a list of assets and debts, existing estate planning documents, and an outline of your estate planning goals.

How does an estate planning attorney charge for their services?

Fee structures vary. Some charge flat fees for specific services, while others bill hourly. Discuss and agree upon the fee structure upfront.

Trusts And Asset Protection:

What types of trusts are available in New Jersey?

There are various trusts, including living trusts, testamentary trusts, revocable and irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, and charitable trusts.

How do I set up a trust?

Trust establishment requires drafting a trust agreement, designating a trustee, and transferring assets into the trust. An attorney can guide you through this process.

Can trusts help protect my assets from creditors?

Certain trusts, like irrevocable trusts, offer asset protection from creditors, lawsuits, and other financial liabilities.

What is the difference between revocable and irrevocable trusts?

Revocable trusts can be modified during your lifetime, while irrevocable trusts cannot be easily changed once established.

How can a trust benefit my beneficiaries?

Trusts offer controlled asset distribution, tax advantages, and protection from creditors, providing financial security for your beneficiaries.

Special Circumstances:

How can I plan for the care of a special needs dependent?

Special needs trusts can provide financial support for dependents with disabilities without jeopardizing their eligibility for government assistance.

How does estate planning differ for blended families?

Estate planning for blended families often requires careful consideration to balance the needs and wishes of the current spouse and children from previous relationships.

Can I leave assets to a charity in my estate plan?

Charitable bequests can be outlined in your will or trust, allowing you to support organizations that align with your values and beliefs.

How can I ensure my pets are cared for after I pass away?

New Jersey allows for establishing pet trusts, ensuring your pets receive proper care after your demise.

What provisions should I include in my estate plan for end-of-life decisions?

Living wills and healthcare proxies allow you to outline your preferences for medical treatment and designate someone to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot.

Estate Planning With Path With Professional Guidance

Estate planning in New Jersey is a multifaceted process that demands careful consideration and strategic planning. With state-specific laws and various elements to consider, it is vital to approach estate planning with a sense of gravity and diligence. Whether you are planning for the welfare of your loved ones, safeguarding your assets, or ensuring that your wishes are respected, each aspect of estate planning serves a pivotal role in crafting a secure and predictable future.

However, the journey through the intricacies of estate planning need not be a solitary endeavor. Assistance, support, and professional guidance are available to help illuminate the path ahead, making the process manageable. An experienced estate planning attorney is more than just a legal advisor; they are your partner in planning for the future, offering invaluable insights and providing the clarity needed to navigate the complex landscape of estate planning.

This guide serves as an introduction and overview, but the nuances of your situation require personalized attention. The tapestry of life is woven with unexpected events and changes, all of which impact your estate planning needs and strategies. Whether you are initiating the planning process or adjusting your plan to accommodate life’s shifts, there is no substitute for the professional advice and assistance of a qualified New Jersey estate planning attorney.

So, as you contemplate the future and consider the legacy you wish to leave behind, remember that help and support are readily available. Start today by contacting Posternock Apell, PC, New Jersey estate planning attorneys for the guidance and personalized service you need. The future may be uncertain, but with careful planning and support, you can approach it with confidence and peace of mind. Contact us today.