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Estate planning tips

Preparing for one's death can be a daunting task. Many New Jersey residents may not know where or how to start the estate planning process. Beginning the process early can give the benefactor time to ensure that everything is properly planned and that all of the instructions that he or she wishes to leave are conveyed clearly. 

If a person is incapacitated and does not have an estate plan in place, that person's family members may have to appeal to the courts in order to obtain permission to make legal and health care decisions for him or him, or the courts might appoint a third party to make these decisions. In order to prevent this, individuals may appoint powers of attorney. A person who has been given health care power of attorney can make decisions regarding the benefactor's medical care, and he or she can help to ensure that the benefactor's wishes are carried out as they are described in a living will or advanced directive. Normal powers of attorney may also make health care decisions if needed, but they can also make financial decisions on the benefactor's behalf. 

An estate plan may also include a will, trust or other similar documents that describe how certain assets are to be handled after death. Some people may choose to pass on properties and other assets directly to their beneficiaries, and others may choose to have these assets sold off and the profits divided. Other individuals may choose to put the funds that they wish to pass on into a trust in order to bypass probate courts. They might also create a trust that requires the beneficiaries to meet certain requirements before obtaining access to the funds. 

Creating an estate plan can be a confusing process, especially for those who have never made one. New Jersey residents who wish to learn more about estate planning could benefit from speaking with an attorney. Attorneys can help clients who are creating an estate plan for the first time understand what they should include, and they can help clients who wish to edit an existing plan make any necessary changes. 

Source:, "A 4-Step Guide to Tackle Estate Planning in 2018", Cathy Cassata, Jan. 29, 2018

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