Last Will and Testaments are a critical component to ensure your assets are protected and pass to the people/organizations you intended. However, some simple Wills have limitations and they are important to point out:

  • Last Will and Testaments serve to protect your family and your hard-earned wealth. A well written Will minimizes estate and inheritance taxes, appoints a guardian for your minor children, and protects your assets by keeping them in your family by shielding them from lawsuits, creditors, and divorce of the beneficiaries. While your Will is an important tool, its reach does not extend to all assets. For example, any accounts or policies that are beneficiary designated such as retirement benefit plans, life insurance, or transferable upon death bank accounts, pass outside of the directions of your Will, or outside of “probate.” It is important to have a comprehensive Will and to consult your attorney, so ALL assets are examined and protected.

  • While New Jersey eliminated the estate tax effective January 1, 2018, it may be reinstated in the years to come. New Jersey still imposes an inheritance tax. The inheritance tax is imposed based on the relationship between the decedent and the beneficiary. For example, if you plan to pass assets under your Will to your siblings, your children’s spouses, nieces, or nephews, a tax will be levied on that transfer subject to a monetary threshold. Your Will should be drafted as to anticipate changes in tax law as well as take into account beneficiaries that will cause an inheritance tax to be levied.

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  • Your Last Will and Testament governs assets held in and out of your state of residence. However, if you own property outside of your state of residence, your Will must be submitted to probate court in each state where you hold assets. This can be a timely and costly process. Your attorney can assist you to avoid this time and expense by suggesting further planning, such as holding your out of state property in a revocable trust. Trust held assets are not subject to probate and can pass without court approval at your passing.

Lauren Parker Nakachi is a 2012 graduate from Seton Hall University School of Law and graduated from Manhattan College in 2004 with a degree in history. She joined the Trusts and Estates Department of Avelino LLP in 2012. In the new firm of Avelino & Hartlaub, LLP, Nakachi continues to provide estate planning services including the preparation of wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, advance health care directives, and durable powers of attorney as well as estate administration.

Merging two law firms with impressive resumes and an equally stout slate of accomplishments has resulted in the formation of Summit- and New York City-based Avelino & Hartlaub, LLP. The partnership is the result of the coming together of Hartlaub & Dotten and Avelino Law.

Avelino & Hartlaub’s primary practice areas include: Real Estate; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Elder Law; Corporate Law; Land Use & Zoning; and Litigation. While the scope of the firm's services is wide, a key differentiator of the new firm is the insight, dedication to excellence, and commitment to client service within each area. 

Avelino & Hartlaub, LLP has offices in Summit, at 47 River Road, and in Tribeca at 11 Park Place, Suite 1715. For more information, including a free and private consultation, call 908-273-5730 or contact