In the State Of New Jersey it is wise to have a Last Will and Testament as it will ensure that after your death all of your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes. Keith A. Singer, Attorney At Law will ensure that the document has been properly prepared, executed and witnessed.
An Executor is the individual appointed in a Last Will and Testament to carry out the wishes of the Testator. The Testator is the maker of the Will. The distinction between Executor and Executrix is one of gender; Executor is used for a male and Executrix is used for a female. The Executor assumes a fiduciary obligation to effectuate what was written in the will. There will usually be alternate individuals named as an executor may be unable to accept or choose not to accept the testamentary appointment.
Yes, an Executor may collect a fee but is not required to do so; should the Executor elect to collect the fee the amount allowed in the State of New Jersey is as follows. The executor is entitled to 5% of the first $200,000 of corpus; 3.5% of the excess over $200,000 up to $1,000,000; and 2% of the excess of the corpus over $1,000,000.00.
New Jersey has both inheritance and estate tax. New Jersey inheritance tax applies to estates worth more than $25,000, but affects only certain heirs. Close relatives, such as spouse, parents, children and grand-children are entirely exempt. The tax applies to other relatives such as siblings who are taxed on inheritances over $25,000 at a graduated rate that starts at 11% and rises to 16%, depending upon the amount inherited. Everyone else, except for qualified charities, is taxed at a rate of 15% for the first $700,000 and 16% for amounts in excess of $700,000.00.
Estate Tax in New Jersey for many years has been levied on estates that exceeded $675,000 and this amount had always been cumulative or in addition to the federal estate tax laws and amounts due. In 2017 a law was passed in New Jersey that altered the estate tax. The recent law increased the New Jersey estate tax exemption, from $675,000 per person, to $2,000,000 per person effective for New Jersey residents passing away on or after January 1, 2017. The law then repealed the tax for New Jersey residents dying after January 1, 2018. It is not known if the NJ Legislature intends to reinstate the Estate Tax in the future.
When clients hire the firm for estate planning advice and documents I generally recommend both a Durable Power of Attorney and Living Will with an Advanced Health Care Directive. A Durable Power of Attorney is advisable as the document provides for the selection and appointment of an Attorney in Fact. The Attorney in Fact is a trusted individual who will make crucial decisions (mostly financial) for the Principal during his or her life. In the unfortunate circumstance of a life altering event such as a stroke or accident that leaves the Principal without the legal capacity to make decisions the POA is extremely important. In the absence of a POA a guardian must be appointed by the court and is both time consuming and expensive.
A Living Will with an Advanced Health Care Directive is similar to a POA in that the document appoints a trusted individual or health care agent to make decisions consistent with the wishes of the Principal when required. The decisions are generally provided by the Agent in the area of health care services including but not limited to providing or not providing artificial means of sustaining life such as medicine, nourishment or resuscitation. Both the POA and Advanced Health Care Directive lapse upon the death of the Principal and the POA powers are replaced by those of the Executor or Executrix as set forth in the Last Will and Testament.