Let’s talk about death: It’s not just the funeral that will cost you in NJ
Death is never a pleasant topic but it's one that needs to be discussed, especially when it comes to expenses.
Kristine Carranceja-Gurski, associate attorney at The Matus Law Group in Toms River, said everyone always thinks about the funeral and how much it will cost. Oftentimes, someone else gets saddled with that expense. But she said that expense belongs to the person who passed away.
So, whoever it is who pays for that funeral outright, will be entitled to reimbursement of that expense once the deceased person's assets go through the process of probate.
Probate is the process in New Jersey where the assets of the person who passed away are managed by someone else.
Carranceja-Gurski said the process is confusing and lengthy but with a proper estate planning attorney, many people can navigate through the process with a lot fewer complications.
Who's responsible for dead person's debts?
After the funeral, other expenses must be dealt with, she added. When someone passes away with debts, the debts don't die with them.
Often times creditors can file claims against the estate, so prepare for something like that. Another expense could be one of administering the estate. Somebody may have to hire an attorney to probate the estate.
"There's going to be court filing fees, there's going to be accountants that may be involved, depending on the size of the estate and who the beneficiaries are, so there are a lot of different expenses that you have to think about," Carranceja-Gurski said.
Real estate belonging to someone who has died
If the deceased person owned a home, now it's up to the executor of the estate to maintain the property and then sell it.
She strongly encourages talking to an attorney about one's wishes. The process can become a lot more complicated if a will is not in place.
"Keep in mind it's not just the assets that you pass on after you pass away, but even the time when somebody becomes incapacitated. Who is going to be in charge of things when they become incapacitated and there's nobody to manage them," Carranceja-Gurski said.
Why you need a professional to make a will
A person with a will gets the final say. He or she decides who will be in charge, who will get what, and how much. She said the will makes the who process involving death so much easier. But keep in mind, that just because someone has a will, does not mean it won't be costly.
"What if you leave money to a minor child, what if you leave money to somebody who has disabilities, who has special needs? Those are costly mistakes that if you don't speak with a proper professional, those might cost your estate a lot more money," she said.
Many times people will name someone in charge in their will, but they don't name a backup. Carranceja-Gurski then asks, what if the first person in charge dies and there is no backup? Then you have to start the process all over again.
"Have a will. Talk to professionals about how your assets are set up so that when the time comes, everything just falls into place," she said.
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