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Moorestown Estate Planning Lawyer

For many people, an “estate plan” is just a last will and testament that identifies who will receive their assets when they die. And a will is certainly helpful since it serves as the building block of most estate plans. But the reality is that estate planning is a comprehensive process that goes well beyond drafting a will but also includes naming someone to make vital decisions for us as we age and maximizing government benefits in our golden years.

When done right, estate planning should provide peace of mind that you will age with dignity and respect for your wishes. Growing old does not have to be a frightening experience—but putting a proper estate plan in place is vital. Please contact a Moorestown estate planning lawyer at Scott Counsel, P.C. today.

Essential Pieces of an Estate Plan

Our legal team will discuss your estate planning goals and then create the right plan using any of the following legal documents:

  • Will. We use wills to identify who will inherit our client’s property at death. You can leave specific pieces of property or sums of money to individuals, or simply divide your estate between certain beneficiaries. Our clients can appoint a personal representative to guide the estate through probate and name guardians for any minor children.
  • Trust. A trust usually supplements a will. It is not probated, but you can use it to leave property to people or charities. A trust might be legally effective while you are alive or be funded at your death. There are many types of trusts, some of which are designed to reduce taxes while others help you control how assets are used after your death.
  • Living will. This document identifies what end-of-life medical care you want, such as resuscitation or a feeding tube. You can also identify a personal health care representative to make decisions when you are incapacitated.
  • Power of attorney. This document creates an agency relationship where you give an attorney-in-fact the power to make certain decisions for you. Many people create a POA to spring into effect when they are incapacitated, though you could also create one to go into effect immediately.

Government Benefits & Estate Planning

Maximizing government benefits is another goal of estate planning. Many programs are only open to those with few assets and no income. Nevertheless, moving assets into a trust might prevent them from “counting” against you for eligibility purposes.

Scott Counsel has helped clients with:

  • Special Needs Trust. You can create a trust for a disabled person who might qualify for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. The assets placed in the trust will not disqualify them from these important benefits.
  • Medicaid Planning. Nursing home care in New Jersey now costs over $10,000 a month for a semi-private room. Someone who enters a home for more than six months could bankrupt a family. Protect your home and other assets by creating an asset protection plan with our lawyers.
  • Veterans Benefits. The VA provides Aid and Attendance benefits to veterans and certain family members who are disabled or housebound. Many veterans don’t even know these programs exist.

To protect your right to financial assistance, please contact a Moorestown estate planning attorney as soon as possible.

What Happens if You Die Without an Estate Plan?

The primary benefit of an estate plan is control. With the right plan, you can decide who will inherit your assets and what happens to your finances if you become incapacitated. By creating an estate plan now, while you are healthy, you can make careful, reasoned decisions about what happens later in life.

If a person does not have a plan, they will lose control:

  • People might inherit from you who you want to cut out of your will entirely. The property gets distributed according to New Jersey’s intestacy statute.
  • Assets could go to people who don’t know how to use them—for example, your child could inherit a small business without having any idea how to run it.
  • A careless or reckless person could be named the personal representative of your estate, possibly compromising its value and harming your heirs.
  • Your loved ones could have insufficient cash to support themselves after your death, necessitating the sale of the family home.
  • You might be kept alive on life support for years when you had hoped to die peacefully.
  • You could disqualify a disabled child or grandchild from essential government benefits like Medicaid by leaving them assets that disqualify them under the government’s means test.
  • You might lose your home if you end up going into a nursing home.

Some people hesitate to create an estate plan because they realize things will change as they age. Fortunately, most pieces of an estate plan can be amended later if circumstances warrant it. There is no reason not to have at least a rudimentary plan in place right now.

How an Estate Plan Helps Younger People

Estate planning might sound like something you can push off until you retire. However, even people in their 20s and 30s will benefit from an estate plan:

  • You might die suddenly. Accidents do happen, and you should have a plan in place for who will raise your young children and who will receive any assets you have. Many young people own more than they imagine.
  • You could become incapacitated. Tragic accidents and serious illnesses often leave young people unable to make decisions for themselves. An estate plan will ensure your wishes are carried out in these unfortunate events.
  • You might pay too much in taxes. Proper estate planning should consider the tax consequences of owning certain pieces of property. Shifting them to a trust or other legal vehicle could save you money.

Cases We Handle

  • Asset Protection
  • Business Succession
  • Elder Law
  • Living Wills
  • Power Of Attorney
  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Probate
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Veteran Benefits

Speak with a Moorestown Estate Planning Lawyer

Scott Counsel is a leading New Jersey law firm specializing in estate planning. To schedule a time to meet with our firm, give us a call at 856-925-7281. We can discuss your estate planning objectives and rely on our experience to accomplish your goals in an orderly and efficient fashion.

Virtual Consultations Include the WHOLE Family

When families live far apart or seniors have mobility issues, a virtual meeting with Scott Counsel makes it easy to include everyone in the conversation.

Peace of mind starts with a FREE Consultation.