Hammonton Wills Lawyer
Hammonton Wills Lawyer
A will is probably the most important part of any estate plan. Most people know that they should have a will, but they don’t know what purpose it serves. Properly drafted, a will allows a person to leave their assets to their loved ones and appoint a guardian for minor children in the event they die.
No one should draft a will without the help of a seasoned Hammonton wills lawyer. The reality is that there is no “one size fits all” will that works for all people, and serious mistakes can crop up if you use a template or computer program. Contact Scott Counsel, P.C. today to schedule a meeting.
What You Can Accomplish with a Will
A will kicks into effect when you die, and you can use it to accomplish the following:
- You can name your estate’s representative. This person will shepherd your estate through probate, pay creditors, and possibly bring lawsuits on behalf of your estate. You can name a personal representative in your will. If you don’t, the probate court will name someone, usually a family member.
- You can leave assets to specific beneficiaries. You can leave an individual’s specific pieces of property or money in a bank account. Or you can divide some or all of your estate between people. In many wills, our clients leave their homes and other large assets to specific individuals, then divide the remainder of their estate equally between their children or other loved ones.
- You can name guardians for minor children. The guardians will raise your children if you die, so this is an important consideration and not one to overlook. Even young people need a will if they have children.
- You can disinherit children. It is possible to cut a child completely out of your will. But to reduce the likelihood of a legal challenge, you should work with legal counsel.
As you can see, a will is important even if you have few assets. Without a will, any property you own gets passed according to the state’s intestacy laws, which means you will not have control.
What You Can’t Accomplish with a Will
A will might be ineffective in the following ways:
- You can’t disinherit a spouse. According to the New Jersey Statutes, Section 3B:8-1, a spouse is entitled to one-third of the augmented estate regardless of what is contained in the will. The only way to disinherit a spouse is to get him or her to waive their rights, usually in a pre or post-nuptial agreement.
- You can’t avoid probate. Wills must be probated, so the contents of the will are made public. There are ways to get around this, but you should consult with an attorney.
- You can’t leave certain assets in a will. Some assets pass outside probate, such as life insurance and retirement accounts. You name a beneficiary on the account itself.
Although wills are important, a comprehensive estate plan usually has additional pieces that an attorney can explain to you.
How Can a Hammonton Wills Lawyer Help?
There are many computer programs out there that promise to create an air-tight will. All you need to do is enter some information, print it off, and then sign it. Unfortunately, these do-it-yourself programs have hidden landmines that can trip up even the most careful person.
A seasoned Hammonton wills attorney provides many benefits. For example, we can discuss whether you want to supplement your will with a trust or other document. Sometimes, it’s better to use a will to distribute certain assets but trust to distribute other ones. We can talk you through the relevant considerations.
We can also help you fully understand what assets you own. Many people have digital assets or intangible assets like intellectual property which could be worth considerable amounts of money. You will want to think through how to divide them between your loved ones. This property can also influence your choice of a personal representative.
Wills must follow certain formalities to be legally effective. A do-it-yourself will could end up being challenged in court, throwing your entire estate plan into chaos. Any money you saved by using a computer program will ultimately be dwarfed by the expenses of an estate fight.
How Often Should You Update a Will?
Getting a will in place is a good first step for creating an estate plan. But once in place, a will often needs updating. We recommend people periodically review their entire estate plan with an attorney—perhaps every five or ten years. We also recommend revisiting a will whenever the following major life event happens:
- You have a child
- You get divorced
- You either get remarried or are engaged to marry again
- Your children marry or divorce
- You obtain a large piece of property, such as a vacation home
- You start a small business
- Your representative dies or is no longer an acceptable choice
Family dynamics are also fluid. You might lose touch with a child or have a grandchild with special needs who you want to provide for. A Hammonton wills attorney at Scott Counsel can discuss whether changes are warranted and assist in choosing the best option.
Can You Revoke a Will?
Yes. New Jersey law provides for different ways to revoke a will, such as tearing it up or burning it. However, most people revoke a will when they create a subsequent one which they want to supersede the first. This is the most effective and efficient way to revoke a prior will.
If you revoke a will and don’t put a new one in place, your estate will pass according to New Jersey’s intestacy rules. That can make probate more complicated and give assets to people you don’t want to inherit from you. We encourage anyone seeking changes to schedule a meeting.
Speak with an Experienced Hammonton Wills Lawyer Today
If you need to create a will or amend an existing one, Scott Counsel can help. We use our deep experience to create an estate plan that fits your life perfectly. Call our law firm today, (856) 485-4585, to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
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