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What is a Living Trust?

Why Do I Need a Living Trust in New Jersey?

One of the main reasons people set up a living trust in New Jersey is to transfer their property and assets easily and quickly to their loved ones after their death. This ease of transfer of assets is designed to save your family and beneficiaries time, hassle, stress, and money.

If you draft a simple will (rather than a living trust), your loved ones would need to go through probate court. While the probate process in New Jersey is traditionally not as long and complicated as it is in other states, your loved ones may have to pay court costs and lawyers’ fees if they need to go through probate.

One of the benefits of doing a trust over a will is that the assets and real estate that you put into a living trust can usually be distributed to your beneficiaries upon death or incapacitation, without going through probate. Trusts allow you more flexibility in putting conditions or restrictions on your assets. For example, if your home is in trust you may require that your children sell it to prevent any arguments. If you have property in multiple states, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a trust can be a better tool to distribute those real estate assets. Additionally, a trust allows for more privacy since you do not have to go to Probate court.

In New Jersey, the courts have adopted the “Uniform Probate Code.” This is a model law that attempts to streamline the probate process. However, any probate involves the N.J. courts and will almost always be more costly and time-consuming than a well-drafted living trust. The rules and guidelines of New Jersey’s living trusts still provide most families with a variety of options to protect your financial wealth.

You also must note that New Jersey is one of the states that attempts to offer a simplified probate process for “small” estates. New Jersey defines a small estate as having a value of $50,000 or less and could include a family home, savings account, etc.

However, even if your estate is relatively small, a living trust will still provide stability, and ease of transfer, that larger estates take advantage of. No matter how large or small your estate, consulting with a Brownsville estate planning lawyer and obtaining a case evaluation will always guide you in providing for your family and beneficiaries after your death.

What Are Some Details Regarding a Living Trust?

Most families believe that drafting a simple will handle all the financial and other issues when you die. However, that is only sometimes the case.

As stated, one of the main advantages of a living trust is that they prevent your family from going through the costly and time-consuming probate process at the time of your death.

Additionally, living trusts allow the details of your estate and who inherits from you to remain confidential. If you just have a will, everything is out in the open due to the public courts’ probate process. Living trusts drafted in New Jersey are private documents that manage your estate without court or general knowledge and possible outside intervention.

A New Jersey living trust allows you to maintain control of your assets during your life but still have complete control of their distribution after you pass. A living trust is an estate planning option that can offer various personalized and specific benefits according to the exact details of your estate and plans for its distribution.

For example, a will has little use during your lifetime. However, it still provides the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones will receive your intended inheritance, but only by going through the probate proceeding in a New Jersey court.

Also, depending on the specifics of your estate, a will may need to go further in detailing precisely what you wish to be done with your real estate, assets, children, etc. Your living trust, if well drafted, will address all these items and more.

Let’s say you become severely ill (at any age) and cannot pay your bills, run your business, care for your investments, or any other financial matters. Then your appointed trustee is empowered to act on your behalf to keep your life’s economy (and other aspects) going for a specified time or from that date on.

If I Form a Living Trust, Do I Need a Will Also?

When discussing drafting your living trust with your qualified, experienced Moorestown estate planning lawyer, you will find that every trust (whether your estate is large or small) differs due to your domestic situation.

Usually, however, you may still need a will for one or both of the following reasons:

  • Accurately appointing a guardian for your minor children – Normally, you can’t use a trust to name a guardian for your minor children. For this reason alone, if you have minor children, you should write a will where you personally appoint their guardian.
  • Accounting for the property you have not transferred to your trust – Things change, and you may forget to transfer property to your trust formally. You also may buy or inherit property after they’ve set up your trust that’s not yet included. Your will should act as a backup document and dictate how possibly unallocated assets should be distributed, not in the trust.

If you don’t have a will, allocating specific directions and assets could get complicated.

Will Having a Living Trust Reduce My Estate Taxes in New Jersey?

This is a detailed question, best answered by your professional estate planning law team, but the simple answer is; probably not. Most families don’t need to worry about federal estate taxes, as this tax commonly applies to estates worth nearly $12 million. Also, around 2018, New Jersey no longer collected estate tax, but the state does continue to impose a state inheritance tax.

If you have an estate worth close to $12 million or more, other more complicated trusts may help with this issue, and the advice and guidance of your estate planning law team will be invaluable to you and your family.

I Want More Information On A Living Trust; How Should I Proceed?

Drafting a living trust in New Jersey ranges from simple to highly complex legal matters.  However, with the help of a professional Moorestown or Browns Mills professional, experienced, and thorough estate planning lawyer, it commonly can be done with relative ease.  

Always remember that if you are incapacitated, or die, your assets, business, financial matters, and your family’s future may all be at stake.  The advice and guidance of the professional estate planning lawyers at the law offices of Posternock Apell will be invaluable in drafting this valuable tool and helping you to secure your future wishes and protect your family.

Even if you are considering this option, call them today at (856) 446-3625 and obtain a complete case evaluation. By consulting with them first and receiving the professional advice you need, you can make the most of this valuable legal tool known as the living trust.