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Morristown Estate Litigation Blog

Do you know the signs of elder abuse?

Caring for an aging loved one is both an honor and a challenge. Not everyone is up to the task, so they require help from outside sources to do some of the heavy lifting -- so to speak. New Jersey residents want to believe that their loved ones are being taken care of, but the simple truth of the matter is, elder abuse is relatively common, and it is something everyone should look out for.

There are several things that one might see that indicates a loved one is the victim of elder abuse. If a loved one's hygiene is not maintained or his or her residence is not clean, among other things, he or she might be the victim of neglect or abandonment. If a loved one shows up with bruises or wounds, and there is no reasonable explanation for them, he or she might be a victim of physical abuse. If a loved one's behavior is off, and he or she is angry or depressed, psychological abuse may be a problem.

Careful estate planning can make probate easier for heirs

Many people know that having an estate plan in place is a good idea. Yet, many New Jersey residents do not. If they do, there is a fair chance that it was not set up as well as it could be or that it needs updating. Careful estate planning is required to ensure the probate process is easy for one's heirs, so it is worth taking the time to get it done right.

There are several things that people can do to ensure their estates pass on to their loved ones with little to no issues. First, they can make sure they have a will and that it is updated. Life changes; one's will must change along with it. It is good to review one's will every few years or after a significant life event.

3 red flags that may signal undue influence in estate planning

Drafting a comprehensive estate plan is one of the more effective ways to protect a person’s assets. After all, without one, intestacy laws control what happens to an individual’s real estate, personal property and other assets. Of course, wills and other estate planning documents are only meaningful if the person drafting them exercises his or her free will. 

If your elderly mother or father has an estate plan, you can probably expect it to reflect his or her true wishes. That is not always the case, though. Sometimes, interested individuals unduly influence estate planners, essentially supplanting their wishes over your relative’s. If you uncover this type of deception, you may need to contest the estate plan. Here are three undue influence red flags you may notice: 

Estate litigation and a last minute beneficiary change

When working through your loved one's estate, you found something concerning to you. At the last minute, it appears a beneficiary change was made. This has you questioning the validity of the estate plan as a whole. In New Jersey, to deal with this type of situation, estate litigation may be necessary.

It is not entirely uncommon for last-minute beneficiary changes to be made when it comes to estate planning. People have every right to change their minds and adjust their plans as they see fit. There are times when such modifications do raise some red flags, though.

Want all or part of your estate to go to charity?

Many people in New Jersey give money and/or their time to charitable organizations while they are alive. Some people, though, prefer to give after they leave this life. Wanting all or part of one's estate to go to charity is an honorable thing. If this is something one desires, it requires careful estate planning. Here are three ways one can ensure the charity or charities of one's choice get the money set aside for them.

Option number one: Make the charity of choice the beneficiary of a retirement account. When a person or entity is named the recipient of a retirement account, the money can go straight to them without having to go through probate. As charities are tax-exempt organizations, the beneficiary should receive the full value of the account.

Elder law attorney's role in preparing for long-term care

Many New Jersey residents will end up needing long-term care before their lives come to an end. The problem for most of them will be figuring out how to pay for it. Not everyone has LTC insurance; not many private medical insurance providers will cover it. Only the right type of Medicare is taken at many facilities, and numerous individuals will not have taken the proper steps to get Medicaid coverage when it is actually needed. An elder law attorney can help one plan ahead, so if LTC is needed, one can get the best care possible without completely breaking the bank.

Long-term care can cost thousands of dollars a month. Those with advanced medical needs pay out the most. Unfortunately, many insurance providers only cover so many days in LTC facilities -- if they cover it at all. What happens if someone requires years in one of these places?

Think you should be the one to close out your loved one's estate?

Losing a beloved family member or friend is difficult for anyone. If this recently happened to you, it is okay to be struggling as you now try to figure out how to navigate the estate administration process in the state of New Jersey. This is not an easy thing to get through, especially if the decedent failed to put together an estate plan, failed to name an executor or named an executor that you think is unfit for the job.

Some people think that they are the ones most capable of closing out their loved one's estates. There are several reasons that they may feel this way. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what your reason is, if you can prove to a judge that you are the best person for the job, the courts may award you the executor position -- even if the decedent did assign someone else to this role.

Only you can prevent sibling drama and estate litigation

Fights over parental estates happen. In fact, this is becoming pretty common in New Jersey and elsewhere. There are things parents can do when preparing their estate plans to help their children avoid going through estate litigation. There are also things siblings can do to prevent drama and get through the estate administration process as quickly and pain-free as possible.

For parents, the contents of one's estate plan can make all the difference. To help avoid litigation, one's wishes should be clearly spelled out, so there is no mistaking what one wants for his or her children. Parents know their children best. They will know if any of them should be named executor or trustee, if assets should be divided or liquidated, or if the time should be taken to ensure property is jointly owned or beneficiaries to specific accounts are named so that assets go directly to the intended party, rather than having to go through the probate process.

Estate planning is for adults of any age

Putting together an estate plan is something many New Jersey residents believe is for individuals entering their golden years. It is not just for that particular population, though. Estate planning is something that can be done by adults of any age.

Young adults can benefit from having estate plans in place, if not for asset protection, then for personal protection. No one knows when incapacitation or death will strike. Even if one does not have many assets to pass on to loved ones, one may wish to ensure they have a power of attorney and advance directives in place. These documents allow them to name personal representatives and provide directions about desired medical care should incapacitation occur.

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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

Torzewski & McInerney, LLC
60 Washington St
Suite 104
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2868
Fax: 973-359-0077
Morristown Office Location