The vast majority of adults in New Jersey need to create at least a basic estate plan.
Even younger adults who are just getting started should consider estate planning. Sadly, younger people do get sick and suffer severe or even deadly injuries in accidents.
No matter one’s state in life, an estate plan can make sure their loved ones, especially minor children, are provided for.
Not everyone needs to create a complicated plan that would involve, for example, a trust or other special estate planning device.
However, there are some basic estate planning documents most if not all New Jersey residents should strongly consider executing:
- A simple will, which will tell family members how to distribute any property that goes through probate. Even people who plan to avoid probate should consider drafting a will.
- A power of attorney, which will give someone else the ability to make a person’s financial decisions for them. The power of attorney also gives the person with decision-making authority, the attorney-in-fact, access to financial records and information.
- A separate Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. The person they appoint as their health care representative in this document will make critical medical decisions for them if they cannot do so. This can include decisions that involve life or death.
- A living will, which can include detailed instructions about medical care near the end of their lives.
What are some other steps to take when creating a basic estate plan?
When preparing these basic documents, a family should strongly consider getting the advice and assistance of an estate planning attorney.
The stakes are simply too high to risk trying to create a plan on one’s own only to discover that the plan has some basic and important flaws.
After creating the plan, a New Jersey resident will want to make sure they review and update other documents, such as real estate deeds, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.
They also should make sure their loved ones know where to find critical documents. This is a good opportunity also to explain the reasons behind their estate plan in order to head off hard feelings and misunderstandings.