One of the greatest gifts an individual can give his family is to provide clear instructions as to your desires as to what to do if you are incapacitated. A Health Care Directive is a separate document which allows an individual to designate someone who can make your medical decisions. It authorizes the designee to communicate with your health care providers relative to whether medical treatment and life-sustaining measures should be invoked or refused.
“Elder Law” relates to all legal issues pertaining to the elderly and their families. In fact, the elderly face numerous issues which are unique and complex. This is why it is important to seek the advice of an elder law attorney to provide you and your family with the knowledge and guidance in a wide range of elderly care matters. More specifically, elder law involves matters such as estate planning, wills, trusts, arrangements for care, social security and retirement benefits, protection against elder abuse (physical, emotional and financial), and others.
Probate is a judicial proceeding in which Wills are interpreted and assets are distributed following an individual’s death. Probate operates either formally, with court supervision, or informally, without court supervision. Whether formal or informal, the first duty of the probate court is to determine whether the decedent left a valid will. If the decedent left a valid will, the probate court oversees the process of settling the estate according to the terms of the will.
Such an instrument is important in the event the grantor becomes incapacitated, so that the attorney-in-fact can act in accordance with the terms of the document to access the grantor’s accounts, pay bills, collect checks, change investments, sell or buy property, and make gifts on behalf of the grantor. For example, if the grantor otherwise is required to access funds to pay for medical expenses, then this instrument permits the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the grantor to access such needed funds. Typically, the partner is designated as the attorney-in-fact.
A simple or complex will is helpful in distributing your possessions to a specific person or charity at the time of your death. A Will can also allow for significant tax savings if your estate is in excess of $675,000 (New Jersey estate tax rate). Assets are either classified as probate assets, which pass under a decedent’s Last Will and Testament, or as non-probate assets, which are not controlled by a Will (i.e., assets that are owned as joint-tenants or assets that pass pursuant to beneficiary designations). A Will is a legal document which provides for the disposition of the decedent’s probate estate.