Your will is a critical component of your New Jersey estate plan. Keep in mind, though, that the executor cannot distribute the assets that you list in your will to your beneficiaries until after the probate process.

At Ritigstein Law, LLC, we often assist clients with tools to minimize the waiting period for beneficiaries.

Trusts

Perhaps you want to leave a certain amount of money or other assets to each of your children. FindLaw points out that when your estate goes through probate, the executor must pay the New Jersey estate taxes, and there is also a state inheritance tax, as well as a federal estate tax if your estate is large enough.

Money and other assets that are in a trust do not belong to your estate, though. You can fund the trust and leave instructions with the trustee to distribute the money according to your instructions.

Bank accounts

There are ways you can use a bank account to avoid probate. You may want to open a joint account so that when you die, the other person on the account becomes the sole owner of the assets. Or, you could set up an account with a payable on death or transfer on death clause and name a beneficiary.

Retirement accounts and life insurance policies

Most retirement accounts and life insurance policies allow you to name beneficiaries to pass the money to when you die.

Chances are, at least some of your assets will end up going through probate. But if you have set up your estate so that your beneficiaries are taken care of immediately, any delays to the distribution of the rest of your estate should not be a problem for your family. More information about estate administration and probate is available on our webpage.