2. Why periodic review and changes to Wills are recommended
Even if you have an existing Will, there are many events that occur which may necessitate changes in your Will. Some of these are:
-Death or incapacity of a beneficiary,
-Death, incapacity or change in residence of a named executor, trustee or guardian of infants
-Bankruptcy or pending divorce of a child or grandchild
- Substance abuse or spending problems of a beneficiary
-Significant changes in the value of your total assets or in any particular assets, which you own
-A change in your domicile
-Annual changes in tax law
- Changes in who you like and who care about you
A Will may be modified, added to, or entirely changed at any time before your death provided you are mentally and physically competent and desire to change your Will. You should consider revising your Will whenever there are changes in the size of your estate. For example, when your children are young, you may think it best to have a trust for them so they do not come into absolute ownership of property until they are mature. Beware; if you draw lines through items, erase or write over, or add notations to the original Will, it can be destroyed as a legal document. Either a new Will should be legally prepared or a codicil signed to legally change portions of the Will.
3. 2020 Federal Estate Tax Rates
For 2020, the basic exclusion amount will go up to a new total of $11.58 million. So for you millionaires out there, you will be taxed on estates over $11.58 million. New Jersey has temporarily stopped the NJ Estate Tax. However, it is unclear if the governor’s pledge to increase taxes on the rich will be approved
4. Sign a new Power of Attorney- Do not use a form purchased online
A Power of Attorney should always contain reference to the NJ statute requiring banks to honor the Power of Attorney. Section 2 of P.L. 1991, c. 95 (c. 46:2B-11). A NJ bank or brokerage company does not have honor a Power of Attorney without the NJ language. Also, if you or your representative move it is a good idea to have a new POA prepared since a bank may give your selected person a hard time if the address on their ID is different than the address on the POA.
A Power of Attorney is a writtendocument in which a competent adult individual (the "principal") appoints another competent adult individual (the "attorney-in-fact") to act on the principal's behalf. You usually select a spouse, child or family member. In general, an attorney-in-fact may perform any legal function or task, which the principal has a legal right to do for him/herself. You may wish to sign a Power of Attorney giving your spouse, children or partner the power to handle your affairs if you become ill or disabled. In the absence of a Power of Attorney or other legal arrangement to distribute property if you become disabled, your spouse, family or partner cannot pay your bills or handle your assets. The result can be lengthy and expensive delays. Have a current Power of Attorney prepared. Avoid having to spend $4,000 on a lengthy guardianship.
5. Have a new Living Will prepared to comply with the Federal Health Privacy Law (HIPAA)
The federal regulation known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was adopted regarding disclosure of individually identifiable health information. This necessitated the addition of a special release and consent authority to all healthcare providers before medical information will be released to agents and interested persons of the patients.
Any old Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, and certainly all Medical Directives now require HIPAA amendments. After you sign the Living Will in your attorney’s office, provide a copy to your doctor and family.
Powers of Attorneys and Living Wills should be updated to reference this Federal reg.
A Living Will is your written expression of how you want to be treated in certain medical conditions. Depending on state law, this document may permit you to express whether or not you wish to be given life-sustaining treatments in the event you are terminally ill or injured, to decide in advance whether you wish to be provided food and water via intravenous devices ("tube feeding"), and to give other medical directions that impact the end of life. "Life-sustaining treatment" means the use of available medical machinery and techniques, such as heart-lung machines, ventilators, and other medical equipment and techniques that will sustain and possibly extend your life, but which will not by themselves cure your condition. In addition to terminal illness or injury situations, most states permit you to express your preferences as to treatment using life-sustaining equipment and/or tube feeding for medical conditions that leave you permanently unconscious and without detectable brain activity.
A.Fluids and Nutrition.
I request that artificially provided fluids and nutrition, such as by feeding tube or intravenous infusion (initial one, not both)
1. ______ shall be withheld or withdrawn as "Life Sustaining Treatment."
2. ______ shall be provided to the extent medically appropriate even if other "Life Sustaining Treatment" is withheld or withdrawn.
B.Directive as to Medical Treatment.
I request that "Life Sustaining Treatment" be withheld or withdrawn from me in each of the following circumstances: (Initial all that apply. Most people initial 1-4, all of them)
1. ______ If the "life sustaining treatment" is experimental and not a proven therapy, or is likely to be ineffective or futile in prolonging my life, or is likely to merely prolong an imminent dying process;
2. ______ If I am permanently unconscious (total and irreversible loss of consciousness and capacity for interaction with the environment);
3. ______ If I am in a terminal condition (terminal stage of an irreversibly fatal illness, disease, or condition); or
4. ______ If I have a serious irreversible illness or condition, and the likely risks and burdens associated with the medical intervention to be withheld or withdrawn outweigh the likely benefits to me from such intervention.
______ None of the above. I direct that all medically appropriate measures be provided to sustain my life, regardless of my physical or mental condition. I want to be kept alive for as long as possible.
___ None of the above. I direct that all medically appropriate measures be provided to sustain my life, regardless of my physical or mental condition. [This means you want to be kept alive with tubes]
If you or anyone you know needs an updated Will, Power of Attorney or Living Will, please have them fill out our confidential interview from and schedule a consult. Call the Law Office of Kenneth Vercammen at 732-572-0500 to schedule an in-office consultation.
Kenneth Vercammen & Associates
Attorney at Law
2053 Woodbridge Ave
Edison, NJ 08817
6. Free Will Seminars and Speakers for Seniors and community groups
The AARP Network Attorneys of the Edison/Metuchen/East Brunswick area had established a community Speakers Bureau to provide educational programs to AARP and senior clubs, Unions and Middlesex County companies. During the past year, volunteer attorneys of the Middlesex County Estate Planning Council have provided Will and Estate Planning Seminars to hundreds of seniors, library patrons, clubs, business owners and their employees, unions, and non-profit groups. These quality daytime educational programs will educate and even entertain. Libraries, senior centers, organizations and groups are invited to schedule a free Will Seminar. Please call Kenneth Vercammen Law Office at (732) 572-0500, email VercammenLaw@njlaws.com
7. How to Prepare Letters of InstructionTo Family and Executor Regarding Funeral Arrangements, and Post-Death Procedures [Form is at the end]
Compiled by Kenneth A. Vercammen, Esq. from various sources
We highly recommend all adults have a current Will, a Power of Attorney and a Living Will. In addition, individuals are encouraged to plan ahead and write messages to their family and executor detailing their specific desires regarding funeral and burial. Written instructions to your family and executor containing information and guidance will minimize uncertainty, confusion, and possible oversights following your death. The information you furnish should ease the settlement of your estate and provide for an orderly winding-up of your affairs. You need to share what you know with those who (often suddenly and without warning) must step into your shoes and carry out your final needs. More info at http://www.njlaws.com/letters_of_instruction.html