Few things in life are guaranteed in New Jersey, but death and taxes are among them. According to one 2017 report, more than 50 percent of Americans have not established a will or a trust and many of those will die without establishing an estate plan that could leave their heirs with a hefty tax bill. Estate planning is vital to ensure that one’s final wishes are successfully carried out. Many famous people have passed away without having a will or a trust. Among them are Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin’s estate has been valued at over $80 million and will be subject to estate tax. In addition, as she had no trust in place, the estate will be subject to probate and therefore the proceedings will be public. Had a trust been put in place, that may have been avoided.

While most people do not have an estate valued at over $80 million, the need for a comprehensive estate plan is not dictated by the size of one’s assets. Even a modest estate may be subject to probate if an appropriate plan is not put into place. While a will can determine the distribution of assets, a trust can facilitate the distribution by preventing the need for probate and may also allow proceedings to be kept private.

A person in New Jersey who is thinking about establishing a will or a trust may want to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review the client’s assets and liabilities and offer advice on the provisions of a will or a trust. This enables the client to feel confident that one’s final wishes will be carried out.