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Wills, Probate & Estate Planning Terms

Advance Directive for Health Care/Living Will

A document stating your treatment preferences for medical care should you become ill, mentally disabled or unable to communicate your wishes.


Executor/Personal Representative

The person you designate as responsible for carrying out the arrangements specified by you in your Will. This may include filing of tax returns, hiring an attorney or accountant if necessary, paying creditors, and filing a final accounting with the Court.


Guardian

A person appointed by the court to oversee the physical and financial care of a child, a minor, or someone who is incapable of making their own decisions due to a physical or mental disability.


Instruction Directive/Living Will

A document that provides instructions for your health care treatment should you become ill, mentally disabled, or are unable to make your own decisions.


Intestate

The estate of a person who dies without a Will. If you die without a Will the laws of the State in which you were resident at the time of your death will determine who will represent your estate and to whom your assets will be distributed.


Letters Testamentary

A Court Order (from the Surrogate’s Court) allowing the executor to carry out the directives in the Will.


Proxy Directive/Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care/Medical Power of Attorney

A document that designates the person you appoint to make health care decisions for you should you become incapacitated due to severe injury, illness, mental disability, or are otherwise unable to communicate your wishes.


Power of Attorney

A document that gives authority to another person(s) to act on your behalf financially, for business purposes, or in other situations. You are the principal. The person you designate is the agent / attorney in fact


Probate

Upon death, a legal procedure which authorizes a Will as being valid. This requires going to the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the decedent lived and presenting the original Will and a death certificate.


Short Certificate

A document issued by the Surrogate’s Court, which the executor uses as proof of their appointment when they close bank accounts, transfer property, and take other actions on behalf of the estate of the decedent.


Surrogate

In each county of New Jersey, the Surrogate is the elected individual who, among other duties, validates the Will of a deceased person and sees that the Will is properly executed by the named executor.


Testamentary Guardianship

If you have a child or oversee the care of a minor or someone who is incapable of making their own decisions due to a physical or mental disability, you should name a person in your Will, referred to as the “guardian,” to take care of that minor or disabled person upon your death. The “guardian” will have custody of the minor and will be responsible for making all necessary decisions for that minor. Such decisions may include educational, financial, or medical decisions and/or helping to handle shopping and everyday care activities.


Trust

There are numerous types of trusts used in estate planning. Trusts involve a “trustee” (the person who holds money/assets) and a “beneficiary” (the person who benefits from the money/assets). The “trustor” /“grantor”/ “donor”/“settlor” is the person who generally provides the money/assets and creates the trust that provides personal or financial support to the beneficiary. A “testamentary” trust is a trust created as part of your Will and begins at your death. An “inter vivos trust” begins when you create it and continues during your lifetime or until revoked.


Will/Testament

A document that states your wishes for distribution of your property after death. No matter the size of the estate, a Will is of great importance. Not only does it specify who will carry out the terms of the Will (executor), but it ensures that your assets and property are distributed to the intended persons in the desired amounts and as otherwise directed by you.


Will Contest

The validity of a will may be contested and litigation may end up being the only method to resolve the conflict. Most often a Will contest is due to a claim that the deceased was mentally deficient or was under improper influence while making the Will.



  • Ian T. Hammett, Of Counsel with the Firm, has joined the UrbanPromise Trenton Board of Trustees and will serve as a member of the Development Committee.

    UrbanPromise Trenton is a non-profit, “for promise” organization providing free After School drop-in and Summer Camp programs to the youth of Trenton. UrbanPromise Trenton equips participants with the skills necessary for academic achievement, spiritual growth, life management, and Christian leadership. UrbanPromise Trenton also employs Trenton teens in their StreetLeader program where teens are mentors and leaders to the younger children in the programs.
    Mr. Hammett joined Mason Griffin & Pierson P.C. in 2018 and practices in the field of Trusts and Estates; Real Estate; Business Law; and Chancery Court Practice.
    To learn more about UrbanPromise Trenton, please visit www.urbanpromisetrenton.org.








  • Anthony Todaro named Planning Board Attorney:

    We are pleased to announce that firm attorney Anthony R. Todaro has been appointed as Planning Board attorney in the Borough of High Bridge (Hunterdon County).








  • Anthony Todaro named Zoning Board Attorney:

    We are pleased to announce that firm attorney Anthony R. Todaro has been appointed as Zoning Board attorney in Hamilton Township (Mercer County).





  • Trishka Waterbury Cecil, Of Counsel with the Firm, has been named a Trustee of the Hunterdon Land Trust.

    The mission of the Hunterdon Land Trust is to preserve the integrity of the rural landscapes in the Hunterdon County region by protecting/enhancing natural resources and the cultural landscape of the historic Dvoor Farm for public enjoyment and education. The Land Trust has helped protect more than 10,280 acres of farmland and open space and owns and manages nature preserves throughout Hunterdon County.

    To learn more about HLT, visit:
    www.hunterdonlandtrust.org




  • Cecil completes NJILGA 2020 YEAR-END LAW REVIEW

    Trishka Waterbury Cecil, Of Counsel with the Firm, has completed her annual Year-End Law Review for 2020 (a/k/a the “Big Book”) which is now available for members on the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys (NJILGA) website: https://www.njilga.org/. At a webinar presented on November 19, 2020 at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities Virtual Conference, Trishka (NJILGA Past President) and Steve Goodell (Treasurer), highlighted and discussed selected local government cases from the past year and entertained questions and comments from attendees.





  • Dragan Appointment

    Sharon Dragan, a Director with the Firm, has recently been elected to serve as Secretary for the NJ Institute of Local Government Attorneys in 2021. For more information about the NJILGA, see
    https://www.njilga.org/about-us/who-are-we.html.




  • COVID-19
    Employment & Financial Update (10/02/2020)

    Click Link Here to read important information regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.