Certified New Jersey Elder Law Attorneys

McHugh & Macri
Certified Elder Law Attorneys Serving New Jersey Residents since 1978.
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Getting started with an estate plan

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

New Jersey residents might attempt to avoid making a will or a trust because they fear confronting their mortality. However, the estate planning process is easier when individuals enter the process with an open mind. Rather than seeing the process as a morbid experience, these residents should realize that creating a plan puts more power in individuals' hands and respects wishes.

For example, the estate planning process presents the opportunity for individuals to designate certain powers to trusted individuals. If individuals are incapacitated or even outside the country, they can designate certain powers to individuals to take over certain tasks. A health care proxy gives someone the legal right to make health care decisions for another person. This is particularly important if the trusted individual is a friend or a romantic partner who may not have any legal status to this power otherwise. Similarly, a durable power of attorney can provide another person the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of a person, even if he or she is incapacitated. Furthermore, an estate plan can give a parent the ability to recommend guardianship of a minor child to another individual in the event of death.

An important aspect of establishing an estate plan is identifying the assets that will fund it. Individuals can create an inventory that includes information about all assets, including the type of account, the approximate value and the intended beneficiary of each account.

After an estate plan is established, it must be updated occasionally as a person's life circumstances change. For example, if a person gets a divorce and then remarries and forgets to change the beneficiary, the ex-spouse may wind up with the benefits of a life insurance policy or other non-probate transfer.

Source: Fox Business, "4 Tips to Begin the Estate-Planning Process", Kathryn Buschman Vasel, November 22, 2013

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