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Navigating the Probate process with a helping hand

While the emotional effects of losing a loved one can linger for a long time, there are some important realities those close to the deceased will have to deal with in the short term. One of those important items will be the disposition of that person's property, known as the process of estate administration.

When a person passes away, that person's estate enters probate, which is directed by the courts. The court will oversee this process to help ensure that person's desires are properly followed. However, it also ensures interested parties like creditors get what is owed to them, and the existence of multiple beneficiaries, those creditors, and what can sometimes be a nebulous assortment of assets can quickly make the process feel overwhelming.

What is probate?

If you are someone who has been diligent in managing and saving your money so that when you pass you can provide a significant amount of assets to your heirs, you may be frustrated with a process called probate. Based on the size of your estate, when going through probate your beneficiaries may not be receiving as much of your inheritance as you may have wished.

At the time of your death, the legal process of probate is used to determine if your will is valid. This process can be very detailed and complex with numerous visits to an attorney for paperwork and numerous court appearances which can have detrimental effect on inheritance due to costs. This can leave less of your assets to pass on. You may have heard about avoiding probate court, if you never knew why, it is for that reason.

When an inheritance disappears

Life can change in the blink of an eye. As such, it is pretty safe to assume that things can change a great deal over the course of several years, including a person's financial situation. This can lead to an heir receiving a much smaller inheritance or even no inheritance upon the death of a loved one.

In many cases, beneficiaries of a deceased party are completely unaware of a decedent's financial affairs. While the family has believed for years that Grandma or Grandpa were extremely wealthy and there was a large inheritance to be collected, reality may show differently. They may be so deep in debt that it will take every penny in the bank account to pay off creditors. Therefore, estate funds will be depleted and there will be none left to disburse to beneficiaries. This scenario is known legally as "abatement", and it happens more often than one might think. By definition, abatement occurs when an estate does not have enough money and assets combined to pay all debts, expenses and costs.

How can people in New Jersey plan for end-of-life care?

Many people in New Jersey have an opinion on what end-of-life medical care they would like to receive when the time comes. There are a variety of legal documents that a person can execute through estate planning, to ensure these wishes are met. Two of these documents are a power of attorney and a living will.

A health care power of attorney is a document in which a person designates someone to make health care decisions on the person's behalf if the person becomes incapacitated. This directive may also be referred to as a health care proxy or a durable power of attorney for health care. In addition to designating a primary decision-maker, an alternate can also be named should the primary decision-maker be unable to fulfill their duties when the time comes.

You do not have to navigate the world of small business law alone

Small business owners in New Jersey may be eager to see their fledgling enterprise grow into a profitable business. After all, they may have put much thought and care into the creation and running of their business. However, that doesn't mean there won't be some stumbling blocks along the path to success.

There are a variety of small business law conflicts that could arise within the course of doing business. For example, breach of contract claims can arise between vendors or other external parties. If a small business is a partnership, and that partnership no longer works out, it is essential that any noncompete contracts the partners had with one another are honored. In addition, businesses could face legal claims from employees alleging wage and hour violations, harassment or other conflict.

What are the duties of the executor of an estate?

Being chosen to be the executor of an estate in New Jersey is an honor, but it is also a role that carries with it many responsibilities. Probate and estate administration is governed by state law. However, in general, there are a number of duties the executor of an estate is obligated to fulfill.

The executor must locate the assets of the deceased. Once located, the executor must make sure those assets are kept safe and managed so they can be distributed either to the individuals who are to inherit per the deceased's will or to the deceased's creditors.

Estate planning at 25? Why it is a good idea

Most people do not think about estate planning in their 20s. Creating an estate plan seems like a task for far in the future, when you have more assets and are thinking about retiring. However, having an estate plan in place as early as possible is a good move for you and your family. If you do not have an estate plan, it is never too early to start creating one.

If you have children and a family, it is especially important for you to create a solid estate plan. Here’s why:

Health Care Market Drivers Mean Business Opportunities

The consumer-driven model of health care has been commonplace in the United States since the early 2000s. Rapidly picking up steam in the medical insurance marketplace since 2005, high-deductible policies, paired with a Health Savings Account (HAS) have become the norm.

As a result of this, more Americans are paying the entire bill for much of their health care, that is, unless they meet their four-figure deductible. While lowering health care premiums for some, many have to pay a sizable premium only to face a high deductible. This has led to triple-digit increases in the cost of health care over the past decade.

What to know about a financial power of attorney

Many people avoid signing a power of attorney document at all costs because they mistakenly think it will take away all of their control over their financial decisions. However, signing a power of attorney may give you more control than you think.

A financial power of attorney is a document that appoints someone, called an agent or attorney-in-fact, to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. Some of these decisions may include paying your bills, paying your taxes, managing your real estate or hiring someone to represent you.

How does New Jersey rank for business-friendliness?

Forbes recently came out with its state rankings on business-friendliness for 2018. These rankings were reached through reviews of six different categories of factors: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Small business owners and entrepreneurs here in New Jersey may not be thrilled about the state’s performance in the rankings.

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