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Estate planning -- Is a Last Will and Testament really necessary?

New Jersey residents who want to ensure that their chosen beneficiaries receive their property upon their deaths might consider drafting a Last Will and Testament. Estate planning starts with a will, and dying without such a document will allow the state to choose beneficiaries who will then receive the decedent's property. Even if the person's estate plan is based on a trust, there will be a need for a will.

Without a trust, the individual's Last Will and Testament will include the details of the person's wishes for the distribution of his or her property. It will list the beneficiaries along with details about how and when they will receive their inheritances. It will also contain the name of the executor or personal representative that will ensure that beneficiaries receive their inheritances, along with what powers the executor will have. If the person has minor children, he or she can also name a guardian to take care of the children until they reach adulthood.

If the person's estate plan is based on a trust, the individual chosen to settle final affairs will be an administrator or successor trustee. The revocable living trust will then cover the points of the will as listed above. The Last Will and Testament will be required to fund the assets into the trust, which will then state how the property must be distributed.

Some people feel overwhelmed at the prospect of dealing with wills, testaments and trusts. This is not a process anybody has to tackle without the support and guidance of an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney. A lawyer can answer all a client's questions and assist with drafting valid documents that will ensure the property goes to the chosen beneficiaries.

Source:, "Estate Planning: What is a Last Will and Testament?", Julie Garber, Accessed on Sept. 15, 2017

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