Whether you own rental units or an industrial complex in New Jersey, a valid will generally includes instructions regarding which heir receives a particular property. The transfer of legal ownership, however, takes place by submitting your will to probate court.

Estate planning options may allow your heirs to capitalize on real estate that generates income while you are alive. For example, by creating a living trust you or your named trustee may begin managing assets on behalf of your heirs. With a trust, heirs may not need to wait until you die to benefit from a property’s revenue streams.

How may I add my spouse and children to my estate plan?

You may include your spouse and children along with their families to your will or trust as you wish. A joint trust created with your spouse, however, may not transfer assets to your heirs while you both remain alive.

As noted by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, you may divide assets between your spouse and heirs by executing separate trusts. Your instructions may specify how much each beneficiary receives as income from the property covered by each trust.

What other methods are available to transfer assets quickly?

Shared or joint financial accounts that you own with your spouse may transfer immediately upon your death. Beneficiaries of a life insurance policy may bypass probate and receive funds directly from the carrier. You may also choose to re-title a property that does not include a New Jersey transfer tax.

Real estate ownership requires careful planning and a review of the options to avoid a complicated probate process that may leave heirs with a large tax liability. An estate plan may also involve naming a personal representative to take over your property affairs if you become ill or incapacitated.