Category: Estate Plannig
All You Need to Know to Write a Valid Will in New Jersey
Our Estate Planning Team of Lawyers Will Get Your Last Will and Testament Papers Ready to Avoid Any Later Legal Issues
Many of us do not wish to spend much time thinking about our death, but failing to put your legal and financial affairs in order and prepare for how your assets will be divided at the time of your passing can create a great inconvenience and stress for your surviving loved ones. Having a will also ensures that your estate will be divided according to your wishes.
But before you break out a notebook, compose your last will and testament, and throw it in a desk drawer, it is critical that you understand the requirements of forming a valid will in New Jersey.
Requirements to Create a Valid Will in New Jersey
In order to create a valid and enforceable will in New Jersey, you must be 18 years of age and of “sound mind.” An individual is considered to be of sound mind if they understand what a will is. the purpose of executing a will, what property they have, where the property is located, and who their intended beneficiaries are.
Lacking legal competency to execute a will is a common reason why some wills are contested after an individual’s death. If there were signs that the person had dementia or some kind of cognitive disability, a challenger of the will may argue that the will is not valid.
Handwritten Wills: Allowed but not Recommended in New Jersey
New Jersey is one of the few states that allows and will enforce handwritten wills, so long as they meet other requirements. However, a will cannot be oral. Handwritten wills are also known as holographic wills and these wills are valid so long as the decedent was legally competent to create a will at the time they wrote it and signed the will.
A handwritten will does not need to be witnessed by another person or signed by any witnesses; however, a witness is later required to confirm that the document is written in the decedent’s handwriting.
While a handwritten will may seem simple to create, there are several disadvantages to this method. Handwritten wills are more easily challengeable in court and are more likely to lead to disputes. As a result, they may increase the risk of family strife, make the process much longer, and lead to your estate not being divided according to your wishes.
Typed Wills and the Role of the Witnesses
Typed wills or those created with a lawyer require the signature of two other people who witnessed the decedent signing the will or witnesses the descendant acknowledging that they approve of the will. If you work with an estate planning lawyer to create and execute your will, they will ensure that these requirements are met.
Self Proving Your Will by Notarizing It
You are not required to have a will notarized in New Jersey, but doing so will make the will “self-proving.” During the probate process, a will that is “self-proving” will not require additional authentication, whereas if the will is not notarized, witnesses must prove the authenticity of the will.
Registering Your Will Makes Easier for Descendants to Locate It
You are also not required to register your will; however, for a small fee of $10, you can submit your will to the New Jersey Will Registry to make it easier for your loved ones to locate your will when you pass. To protect your privacy, only “interested persons” including your children, spouse, other potential heirs, creditors, fiduciaries, or anyone else who may have a property interest or claim against your estate, may request the will.
Advantages of Working with a New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyer
There are numerous advantages to working with a New Jersey estate planning lawyer to create and execute your will. First, during the planning process, your lawyer will help you to consider how to devise all of your assets in a way that best serves your loved ones, considers tax implications, and carries out your vision for your legacy.
Working with an experienced estate planning lawyer also ensures that your will is valid and properly executed. If a will is not found to be valid, your estate will be divided according to default laws provided by New Jersey law. These default rules may be very different from what you intended and may even be very different from what your loved ones know you intended; however, if you do not have a valid will, then those default rules will control how your estate is administered.
A lawyer will also help you to ensure that your will is properly worded so that wishes are carried out just as you intend for them to be.
Contact our Probate Lawyers to Ensure Your Will is Valid in Toms River, NJ
If you have recently had a loved one pass or are an executor of a will, and you need assistance with handling the administration of the estate, or if you believe that there is a legal problem with the will of a loved one or the way their estate is being administered, contact our team of experienced and knowledgeable New Jersey estate planning lawyers at The Bronzino Law Firm today for a free consultation.
Our team includes lawyers who are exceptionally knowledgeable in the area of estate planning, and we can help you address the individual aspects and goals of creating a will that best suits your needs. Contact (732) 812-3102 to speak to a wills and estates lawyer regarding your future plans or schedule an appointment to sit down with us at our local offices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ.
We assist clients with estate plans and related cases like real estate transactions after a loved one’s passing throughout Ocean and Monmouth County. If you’re in need of legal guidance and assistance with drafting, changing, challenging, or enforcing a will in Lacey, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Colts Neck, Rumson, Mantoloking, Bay Head, or Barnegat Light, we encourage you to call today.
The Implications of Life Insurance after Divorce
Life insurance is an investment that many people make as a way to protect their loved ones, including spouses and children, in the case that something unexpected happens to them.
When a marriage is a thing to die, however, the question remains: what happens to the life insurance policy? There are a couple of primary happenings with life insurance policies that we’ll look at today; read on to learn more.
What happens to life insurance after divorce in New Jersey?
Because a life insurance policy is personal, and it is contributed to by only one individual (and not the couple) throughout the course of the marriage, it is considered individual property, not marital property. This means that in a divorce, the person from whom the life insurance policyholder is divorcing has no claim to any funds that have been contributed to the life insurance policy. The policyholder had likely named their spouse and/or any children as beneficiaries to the policy during the marriage. They are within their right to change the beneficiaries of the policy at any point, and, in the case of divorce, they will likely do so.
Can you claim life insurance after a divorce?
There have, however, been cases in which a policyholder has divorced their spouse, failed to change the beneficiary from the ex-spouse to someone else, and then they have died. The question that remains in this situation is, can the ex-spouse – whose name is legally outlined as a beneficiary of the insurance policy – claim the life insurance funds? The answer would be an obvious yes, correct? Well, not so fast.
Such cases have littered courts around the country. One Minnesota case was taken all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals, where it was ultimately determined that the claimant did have the right to her dead ex-spouse’s funds because she was still listed as the beneficiary after their divorce and his death. In the lower courts, the revocation-upon-divorce statute in Minnesota held that “the dissolution or annulment of a marriage revokes any revocable…beneficiary designation…made by an individual to the individual’s former spouse.” This revocation of beneficiary designation was overturned by the U.S. Constitution itself, as it was determined that the contract rendered by the spouse naming his wife as beneficiary was legal and irrevocable unless done so by the policyholder himself.
However, in New Jersey, which also has a revocation-upon-divorce statute, a similar case of an ex-spouse seeking the life insurance payout for a deceased ex’s policy was denied. There is, however, another case in which one can claim life insurance after divorce.
Can NJ courts implement life insurance obligations?
Some of the elements that are hashed out in a divorce include child custody, child support payments, and spousal support (alimony) payments. In some cases, parents who owe child support payments and alimony become delinquent, falling back in their payments. One of the ways that many New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judges handle this delinquent payment is to require that a divorcee with financial responsibilities mandated by the court take out a life insurance policy. This life insurance policy, then, is collateral against which the required payments will be made. In some cases, if the life insurance provider allows it, the policy is taken out in the custodial parent’s name. In other cases, they are listed as the beneficiary. When a paying ex-spouse remains delinquent on keeping up-to-date with alimony, child support, or life insurance payments, the court can issue financial sanctions.
Given that the revocation-upon-divorce statute does not so cleanly determine whether a prior beneficiary will remain so after divorce, it is essential that you have a skilled and experienced divorce and estate lawyer on your side if you are seeking a life insurance payout from an ex.
Talk to our team about whether life insurance counts in your divorce
Having the support of an experienced divorce attorney can mean the difference between protecting the financial wellbeing of your family and finding yourself facing someone who is holding out against meeting even court-ordered obligations. You and your children deserve the guidance a family law attorney can provide for how to protect your own and perhaps even utilize your ex’s life insurance policy to get your children’s needs met.
Make sure you have a skilled family law attorney on your side. At Bronzino Law Firm we understand how important it is to protect your finances, including your life insurance. We successfully represent clients Rumson, Sea Girt, Oakhurst, Neptune, Mantoloking, Toms River, and other towns in Ocean and Monmouth Counties to ensure that the best interests of your family are protected.
Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss your divorce today.
Professional Attorneys Help you understand what Constructive Trust is and when it would be advisable to use this financial, legal form.
Ensuring equitable distribution of funds when having two or more parties sharing assets can be rather challenging.
Especially if one of the parties has benefited from the other one not being aware of how much more equity they are accruing without their full knowledge and consent. Let’s start by understanding what Constructive Trust is and when it would be advisable to use this financial, legal form in New Jersey.
Constructive Trust: The Concept
The constructive trust’s purpose is to correct erroneous property assignment to an individual. It is enforced by the Court to play the role of “equitable mitigation” and can be used to correct mistakes that continue to happen or that took place in the past. The constructive trust implies that a designated individual will safeguard another person’s or a company’s property.
A constructive trust gets created to correct a scenario of “wrongful enrichment,” which happens when a party owns real estate assets or property that they actually should not be keeping because it was collected unfairly either by a breach in a financial settlement or a result of fraudulent activity. Therefore, the trust is created to straighten up the unjust situation by switching the property ownership and assigning it back to its rightful owner. Once the court has decided to set up a constructive trust, it is time for the wrongfully keeping the property to deliver it back to its lawful owner. The real owner would, of course, enjoy all the benefits of such property, either financial, real estate, or any other kind for assets, even if it is deemed that their value has in any way increased from when the other party was guarding it.
How to Prove a Constructive Trust
The first thing the court needs to achieve is proving that an individual has a constructive trust over real estate, money, or other assets. This can be done by:
– An agreement with very clearly expressed terms to which the participating individuals are committed from the date when it was set up. This expressed agreement can be recorded in writing or can be limited to an oral compromise.
– The second option would be through an implied consent, which is basically a contract or responsibility between two or more parties, without the existence of a written document, considering conduct or intention shared by the participating parties.
A Successful Constructive Trust Example
The complainant Michael Thieme and the appellant Bernice Aucoin-Thieme lived in a common-law marriage for eight years and were then married for 14 months, then divorced. Thieme was an employer at International Biometrics Group during their time together, and Aucoin-Thieme cared for their child.
When the company was sold, they complied with the offer made to Thieme of receiving significant compensation for his collaboration with the company. However, IBG was sold only three months after the divorce was finalized, and they paid Thieme a $2.25 million bonus. Aucoin-Thieme submitted a request to have the bonus shared, and the court deemed that Aucoin-Thieme was indeed, eligible for that equitable distribution of the bonus that Thieme earned while the marriage was still effective. The appellate court agreed with Aucoin-Thieme’s request, even though Thieme decided to appeal.
Contact our Constructive Trust Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one are wanting to explore your options to secure equitable fund distribution after a divorce or separating from a business partner, or individual entitled to your real estate or assets, you are entitled to seek a Constructive Trust Lawyer to guide you better.
At Bronzino Law Firm, we passionately represent and protect the best interests of our clients in Sea Bright, Toms River, Ocean Gate, Brick, Berkeley Township, Lacey, Pine Beach, and Bay Head. Whether you are currently appealing a court decision regarding equitable property and financial assets distribution or want to understand better how constructive trusts can be enforced throughout the Jersey Shore and New Jersey as a whole, our lawyers can help.
Constructive Trusts and Child Support Attorneys Brick and Sea Girt NJ
A constructive trust is a judicially imposed remedy used to prevent unjust enrichment when one party wrongfully retains title to the property.
If you are involved in a dispute with your ex-spouse and you believe he or she is recklessly spending the money from joint accounts and/or unethically taking money from savings, such as college funds for children, an appropriate remedy could be the imposition of a constructive trust over his or her share of the assets (i.e., restraining his or her share of the assets to secure future payment).
What Is A Constructive Trust?
A constructive trust is a judicially imposed remedy used to prevent unjust enrichment when one party wrongfully retains title to the property. As the Supreme Court has held, this “is a fiction of equity created for the purpose of preventing unjust enrichment by one who holds legal title to property which, under principles of justice and fairness, rightfully belongs to another. A constructive trust is one that arises by operation of law against one who, by fraud, actual or constructive, by duress or abuse of confidence, by the commission of a wrong, or by any form of unconscionable conduct or questionable means, has obtained or holds the legal right to property which he ought not to have.
How Has the Court Dealt with Constructive Trusts and Child Support?
In D.M.H. v. H.G.H. NO. A-4267-17T2 (App. Div., June 12, 2020), a case argued recently in New Jersey, the defendant alleged that due to the termination of his six-figure salary and the change of technology that impacted his current employment, making alimony and child support payments was now an impossibility. However, the plaintiff demonstrated at trial that the defendant had taken money out of their accounts while in Europe to pay an alleged debt, had gambled away money, and had withdrawn $77,000 from the children’s college savings account. It was also proven that the defendant had removed nearly $15,000 in cash from ATM machines in nearby casinos. The defendant assured the court that all of the withdrawn funds were used to repay heavy debts but was unable to produce adequate documentation with which to substantiate the debts or document the repayment of the same. After considering the money Defendant had spent and his failure to contribute toward his children’s support, the court deemed it necessary to impose a constructive trust over his share of the assets to secure his future payment of child support and other financial obligations.
If the claimant cannot demonstrate that a constructive trust is appropriate, then a money order is usually awarded instead. The Court has stated that in family situations when determining the amount of a monetary award for an unjust enrichment claim:
A claim may be made for a constructive trust, giving one partner the right to live in the family home or the right to divide property, if:
- the couple share custody of a child and lived together in a relationship of some permanence, or
- one partner contributed financially to the home by paying part of the mortgage, property taxes, repairs or upkeep, and so on.
Generally speaking, the longer the relationship between unmarried cohabitees or common-law partners the more likely there is a remedy. Obtaining these rights, however, usually requires hiring a lawyer and often results in going to court. Division of property in a common-law relationship can be extremely complicated.
What Is My Next Step?
While the imposition of a constructive trust is not commonplace, there are specific factual circumstances that may necessitate it. If you believe that the specific facts in your matter require the imposition of a constructive trust, you should discuss it with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.
When going through a separation, divorce, or child custody it is important to make sure you are protecting your and your children’s financial future. Our experienced family law lawyers can provide information, legal assistance, and advice when you need it most.
Contact a Monmouth County Child Support Attorney Today
If you are considering hiring a lawyer to represent you, for legal advice and assistance regarding child support and unjust enrichment and constructive trust claims, and other family law matters, contact Peter Bronzino at our law offices located in Ocean and Monmouth counties. Call us at (732) 812-3102 or contact us online. We look forward to helping you resolve all of your legal issues with personalized, experienced service.
Bitcoin Assets and Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
As times change and technological advances seem to arise almost daily, the equitable distribution of assets during a divorce is more challenging than ever.
Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin can be tough to trace when one suspects that a spouse or partner is hiding their true financial worth by using this unregulated monetary system. Here at the Law Offices of Peter Bronzino, we know how complicated the process can be. Read on to see the warning signs if your spouse uses Bitcoin to hide assets and how we can help you reach a fair settlement.
What are Bitcoins?
Bitcoin is a worldwide digital currency developed back in 2009, which has seen an increase in almost mainstream popularity over the past year or so. The Bitcoin exchange is completely decentralized, meaning there are no attachments to banks or governments.
There is no compelling reason to give names when managing in Bitcoins; all required are the person’s wallet IDs. It is additionally a lot simpler to move Bitcoins out of the country, making them significantly harder to find. This anonymity, the lack of paper trail that would typically be found through conventional transactions, and the current lack of regulation is why divorce attorneys are concerned that these transactions could provide new opportunities for a divorcing spouse to be disingenuous regarding their assets. The following tips can help you and your attorney discover any virtual money your spouse has not disclosed.
Bank and credit card records show a transaction with a cryptocurrency exchange.
Certain online sites work as the section point for many people keen on acquiring or exchanging Bitcoin and other advanced monetary forms. Trades include Coinbase, Binance, Etoro, Coinswitch, Luno, and PaxForex. All it can take is one exchange in “typical dollars and pennies” to enter this new Bitcoin universe, where untold computerized cash can be acquired. So in the event that you see any crypto action, anyway slight, it is deserving of further examination — particularly if your partner excluded it from the Case Information Statement. Each crypto wallet (where computerized money is kept) accompanies a one of a kind “key” that would then be able to be followed to show all exchanges related to the wallet.
History of large Amazon Purchases
Some crypto companies allow trades that permit clients to obtain a computerized wallet with restricted proof of identity required (sometimes just an email address.) To hide their holdings, some spouses, rather than buy more Bitcoin and put it in their wallet directly, interface with a Bitcoin client in one of the numerous client gatherings who is happy to receive merchandise that will be paid in Bitcoin to the purchaser. It goes like this: Person A, who wants to keep their Bitcoin transactions under wraps, buys several large items for Person B. Person B then deposits Bitcoin into their online wallet, and the transaction is practically invisible. Check Amazon, eBay, and other online vendors. Has your companion made unordinary or huge purchases of items that have never been brought to your home? Are there names and addresses in your Amazon account dispatching list that you don’t recognize? Should you not have access to those accounts, your lawyer can request it during divorce disclosure.
The presence of crypto exchange apps or digital wallet apps in your App store account.
It is likely your spouse has a crypto banking app on their phone. If you share the same phone account, you may be able to access the history of all apps downloaded to any phone on your plan. If you cannot obtain this information on your own, your attorney can add to this to items to be produced during discovery.
Bank accounts show large singular cash withdrawals or a pattern of smaller withdrawals of similar size.
This kind of pattern warrants further investigation. What was the money used for? Trading cash for Bitcoins is one possibility, but there are many more. Transferring cash to a Paypal account is another red flag. What was the purpose of this transfer, and to whom is the money going?
Secretive behavior with account statements.
Has your partner become secretive about financial statements? Maybe the password for your online banking has been changed, and your spouse shrugs it off as some technological glitch, promising to contact the bank later that day. Call your bank and credit card company to request copies be sent directly to you for all joint accounts. Let your attorney know as soon as possible so that steps can be taken to make your spouse produce the paperwork for all joint accounts.
The New Jersey Law Journal recently tackled the issue of the impact of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on divorce. Although Bitcoin is largely anonymous and difficult to trace, it is traceable when it enters digital space. For example, if it can be proven that large amounts of money have been transferred through currency exchange, your attorney or a financial forensic analyst can support your accusation. A good divorce lawyer will be able to advise you on the best approach to proving the existence of assets in Bitcoins. Although digital currencies may be harder to value than traditional assets such as stocks, shares, and property, this does not prevent the court from determining a fair evaluation.
Retain a Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant, Toms River, Jackson, Wall, Sea Girt, and Brick favorably and effectively divide marital assets divorce or mediation process.
Tips on how to Manage your Estate Plan in Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce
Estate Plan Attorney educating on your financial well being in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank, and across the Jersey Shore
Divorce has implications for every aspect of a person’s life, from their emotional, mental, and physical health to their financial wellbeing. During and after a divorce, most people reassess elements of their lives and plans for the future and refine them to align with their new trajectory. One financial rearrangement that may need attention is the estate plan. An estate plan doesn’t only strategically prepare you for your future – it affects your children and determines many important elements of their wellbeing in the case of your death or that of your ex. Understanding how the divorce could and does affect the myriad aspects of your estate is essential in the early post-divorce process. So what are immediate steps to take involving updating your estate plan after finalizing a divorce? Read on to learn more.
Update your healthcare proxy
The healthcare proxy is the person who can legally make decisions for you if you are injured and cannot make decisions for yourself, and you likely don’t want your ex maintaining that legal power. Change your healthcare proxy to a trusted friend or family member.
Change your power of attorney
As is the case with the healthcare proxy, it is important to withdraw your ex’s legal role as attorney’s power if they are so named. In their place, name a trusted friend or family member.
Share your divorce agreement with your estate planner
Your estate planner has your family’s best interests and financial wellbeing in mind. As such, sharing your divorce agreement with them is an essential early step in the post-divorce process. Before the estate planner can help you update your estate plan, they need to know what your legal obligations are to your ex in the case of your death. What you can change will depend on what you must legally provide in the case of your death.
An estate planner can also check for holes in the divorce agreement that will adversely impact your financial wellbeing and that of your family, such as the impact of the divorce on retirement account beneficiaries and whether you are protected from having to pay state and federal estate taxes. The estate planner will review whether your ex can change beneficiaries and how your death would impact your children’s financial wellbeing as estate plans currently stand.
Change your will
There is a likelihood that you will no longer wish for your ex to be named in your will. If this is the case, it’s time to update it. The main revision will be removing your spouse from the role of executor of the will. Unless specifically desired, you do not want your ex to have power over your estate or trust.
Update your beneficiaries
There are numerous savings accounts and policies for which you have named a beneficiary. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and IRAs are just some of the accounts you will need to update if you don’t want your ex to maintain a claim if you die. Some states automatically wipe an ex-spouse from being a beneficiary, but this is not always the case. If you named your spouse while you were married, forget to update, and then die, the process of the desired or secondary beneficiary receiving the funds could involve litigation.
Consider a trust
A shared life insurance policy will need to be addressed during the divorce proceeding. The person who owns the policy must pay premiums – yet they also can change beneficiaries. To ensure that your children are cared for in the case of your ex’s death, it may be wise to name a trust as the owner of the insurance policies to ensure that a steady continuance of payment of the policy continues for the benefit of your family.
A trust can also be established to ensure a steady flow of alimony and child support. The trust creator, called the grantor, makes payments into the trust based on its outlined provisions. If the grantor dies, the beneficiaries can receive funds without probate. There are also tax advantages to setting up a trust instead of other forms of handling alimony and child support.
Consult an experienced Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney in Brick or Sea Girt, NJ, to protect your interests
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team is skilled in handling all matters of divorce and estate revisioning for our clients across Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, and across the Jersey Shore.
Our unique approach ensures that your financial legacy is secure.
To meet with an experienced team member to go over your estate planning needs, please call 732-812-3102 to schedule a consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt or fill out the online form, and we´ll get back to you shortly.