Wills & Trusts

Wills and Trusts

Senior Women with Warm DrinksGuiding New Jersey Clients Through Estate Matters

Wills and trusts are testamentary documents that allow someone to be proactive in how his or her estate will function after the inevitable. These documents also relieve the stress of family members who should focus on healing after a loss. A will is an important document for someone who has a vision of how his or her estate should be handled after death. When a family is faced with a death and that person does not have a will, the assets will be distributed by a court according to guidelines, not the wishes of the deceased. A trust is a good way to make assets available for beneficiaries and can help those who would benefit avoid the effects of a taxable estate. Taking care of an estate is an important thing to consider while you can. If you need the compassionate and dedicated legal services of our established estate department, contact Cohn Lifland today.

The Importance of a Will

Many people are fortunate in their lives to have accumulated or saved some assets. Those assets could be property real estate, bank accounts, securities, or items of personality, meaning jewelry or other items with significance. As you get older, you start to think about whom it is you want those assets to pass on to and how you want them to pass. A will can tell your heirs, the people who survive you, what your intentions were with respects to the assets you’ve accumulated over the course of your life.

Requirements for a Valid Will

There are very few requirements for a will to be valid. First, a will has to be in writing and it has to be signed by the individual. In order for a will to be enforced, it must be witnessed. Most states require that you have two witnesses. There are formal laws that govern the obligations of a witness. In general, the witness must be present, understand that it’s a will signing, and hear the signer of the will proclaim that they are of sound mind and body, acknowledging that they are signing a will. Oftentimes the witnesses will also sign to attest to that fact. Once you’ve signed it in front of the witnesses and satisfied the requirements, you have a document that can then be filed or probated with the local courts.

Trusts

A trust is a great way to manage the assets of an estate. There are two types of trusts. A revocable trust allows you, the grantor, to change the guidelines at any time. An irrevocable trust does not allow for a change of guidelines. Once you execute the irrevocable trust, the rules are binding. An irrevocable trust is often preferred because there are many positive tax implications. For either type of trust, you will appoint a trustee who will manage the trust. Some of the advantages of a trust include:

  • The passing of assets outside of probate
  • The time saved
  • The court costs saved
  • The reduction in taxes  

There are many different types of trusts, including a marital, bypass, testamentary, charitable lead, charitable remainder, generation-skipping, and irrevocable trust, just to name a few. It is routine for a person to have more than one trust. Knowing which trust is right for you is important. You should speak to an attorney.

Contact Cohn Lifland

Wills and trusts are important legal documents to consider drafting. Wills establish what happens to your estate after you pass and relieves the stress of your loved ones who are focused on healing. Trust can do the same, but also can also relieve the family of financial burdens, including probate and other legal fees while also saving money on taxes. You have a lot of options with both and consulting with an attorney is in your best interests. If you need our quality legal services, contact Cohn Lifland.

Contact:

Barry A. Knopf

Leonard Z. Kaufmann

Cohn, Lifland, Pearlman, Herrmann and Knopf LLP
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