Planning for Death and Incapacity
People often underestimate the importance of planning for their death and/or incapacity. Determining what you would want to happen to your assets when you pass away or who you would want to help manage your property and/or make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself are not exactly issues people enjoy talking, or even thinking, about. Nonetheless, these are issues that everyone should address and appropriately plan for.
Most people assume that if they die intestate (without a will) then their estate (all of their property) will automatically pass to their surviving spouse. However, in New Jersey, this is not always the case. When someone dies without a will, the State’s intestacy laws determine who inherits their estate. For instance, the surviving spouse will only inherit the deceased spouse’s entire intestate estate if:
- the deceased spouse did not have any surviving descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) nor parents; or
- the deceased spouse’s surviving descendants were also the surviving spouse’s descendants and the surviving spouse had no other descendants. The laws of intestacy can be confusing and can create issues for the decedent’s family.
Similarly, most people do not realize the importance of having proper Powers of Attorney. Without executing the necessary documents to nominate a Power of Attorney (or “agent”) to manage your property and/or to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated, your loved one’s will only be able to act on your behalf if appointed your Conservator and/or Guardian by the Court. This process is not only costly, but is also time consuming and a burden on both the family and incapacitated person.
In order to assure that your estate will pass the way you would want it to after your death and that you have a legal agent to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity, it is essential that you explicitly state your desires in a legal document. Because Wills and Powers of Attorney must be executed pursuant to specific formalities and requirements, it is necessary to seek advice from an experienced Estate Planning attorney.
Contact Attorney Adam M. Kotlar
The Law Offices of Adam M. Kotlar serves Camden County, Gloucester County, Burlington County, Bucks County as well as the cities of Haddonfield, Huntingdon Valley, Feasterville, Pennsauken, Cherry Hill, Southampton & Levittown in New Jersery & Pennsylvania.