Estate planning and estate administration are handled by Mary Ann Kenny Pidgeon. Mrs.Pidgeon earned her LL.M. in Taxation from the Villanova University School of Law and she is a member of the Mercer County Estate Planning Council. Mrs. Pidgeon has been working with clients for more than thirty years to make the preparation of estate planning documents as simple and painless as possible. Making decisions about the end oflife can be difficult and Mrs. Pidgeon will take the time necessary to make certain your decisions meet your needs.
Mrs. Pidgeon will work with you to provide for your family upon your death and also to minimize your exposure to federal and state taxes. This planning includes the preparation of the Last Will and Testament, as well as any trust which may be advisable. Trusts may help lessen the burden of estate taxes. The current state of the New Jersey Estate Tax provides a credit for an estate valued at $2,000,000 and in 2018 the New Jersey Estate Tax will not be collected. There will be no New Jersey Estate Tax. Mrs. Pidgeon will advise how to best address the possibility that the New Jersey Estate Tax will return in some form. The federal exemption is more than $5 million and trusts may also lessen exposure to that tax. Trusts are also vital if you have minor children who need the protection of the trust.
The Executor, Trustee and Guardian are designated in your Last Will and Testament. The executor’s responsibilities include making sure that the property is transferred to the proper beneficiaries and all ofthe debts of your estate are paid. Married couples usually, but not always, name each other. The fiduciary’s skills should match the job and the Executor should be responsible and trustworthy. It is good practice to name alternate Executors, Trustees and Guardians in the event that one is not able to perform the duties.
The second job is the Trustee who is the fiduciary in charge of any trust created in the Will. If you and your spouse create trusts for your minor children and both of you die or as we say here at Pidgeon & Pidgeon- you are both hit by the bus- your children’s money should be held in trust. The Trustee will pay money for the health, education, maintenance and support of your children until each child reaches the age designated in the Will. If a marital trust is needed to lower the exposure to estate taxes on the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse may act as the Trustee.
The last job set forth in the Will is the Guardian and this is the most difficult decision. The Guardian is only appointed if both parents are “hit by the bus.” If the children are minor at the time of both deaths, a Guardian raises the children on your behalf and is responsible for the physical and spiritual well-being of the children. The same person may serve as Executor, Trustee and Guardian or depending on the attributes of the people involved, you may name different people to each role.
As part of your estate plan, Mrs. Pidgeon will also discuss the end of life planning. The client’s desire to have artificial life support continued or removed to allow for a natural death will be explored. A living will, advanced directive or health care proxy are the documents which designate the person who makes those decisions on your behalf and communicates your wishes regarding hydration, artificial nutrition and repeated cardiac resuscitation.
Finally, in case of a disability and as a matter of convenience, Mrs. Pidgeon prepares a durable power of attorney which designates an agent to make decisions and administer your dayto-day financial needs. It also allows your agent to admit you to a rehabilitation facility or nursing home. Most important, it allows your agent to pay your bills if you are unable to manage your financial affairs. The General Durable Power of Attorney is in effect as soon as it is signed, so even if you are not disabled, the agent may act on your behalf provided the agent always acts in the best interest of the principal.
Donna Lipyanek is Mrs. Pidgeon’s assistant for Estate Planning. Donna has thirty years experience assisting in preparing estate planning documents and is sensitive to the needs of our