If you have children, especially minors and/or children with a disability, you should consider how your current estate plan would effect your children in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs. While planning for your children is part of a proper estate plan, you should also consider whether your estate planning documents, including, a Last Will and Testament, General Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will, are up to date and accurately reflect your current circumstances and objectives. In a Last Will and Testament, for instance, you may nominate a Legal Guardian for your minor children or appoint a custodian for assets passing to minor children. Each decision is a step toward a fully articulated estate plan, which takes time and thought.
The following are a few ideas and estate planning tools to consider when planning for your children’s financial security. This list is not fully inclusive of all options available, but instead, are some of the many options available to parents planning for their children. Should you have any questions regarding your estate plan, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Puff & Cockerill LLC.
A trust is a common way for managing and protecting your children’s assets. A trust can be tailored and structured in many ways to accommodate your specific intentions. Once you discuss with an estate planning attorney your circumstances, finances and goals for the trust, you will also have to select a trustee. A trustee should be an individual who you have confidence in to manage and make advisable decision regarding the trust assets. Assets held in a trust may be limited to specific purposes, such as education, health, maintenance, or they can be more freely distributed at the discretion of the trustee. Again, trusts are flexible to accommodate your circumstances and goals. Given the numerous options available, it is highly advisable that you speak with an estate planning attorney to understand the nuances that a trust can provide in planning for your children’s future.
Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA)
New Jersey has Uniform Transfers to Minors laws which establish restrictions on how assets may be distributed to minors. Depending on your circumstances, the UTMA may be an appropriate way to make gifts to a minor and allow the custodian of the account to collect, manage, and invest the property on behalf of the minor or use the property for the minor’s benefit. As the laws regarding the UTMA are stringent, it is important to discuss with an estate planning attorney.
Children with Special Needs
If you have a child with a disability, proper planning for your children and their future is particularly important. Without a proper estate plan in place, you may jeopardize your child’s eligibility for government benefits, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD). A special needs trust is designed to hold assets for an individual with a physical or mental disability while preserving personal eligibility for benefits. Special needs trusts are subject to stringent legal requirements in order to maintain eligibility, therefore, it is highly advisable that you speak with an experienced attorney.
Please contact our office at 856-845-0011 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your estate plan with one of our estate planning attorneys. We will continue to be available for our clients and new clients. We hope all of you remain safe and healthy.