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Don't put off estate planning

Some residents of New Jersey may feel that estate planning is not necessary because they do not have complicated finances or all of their assets are held jointly with their spouse. However, estate planning only needs to be as complicated as someone's finances are, so those with basic planning needs will only need basic documents.

Estate planning is important because not only does it distribute people's property after their passing, but it also can be used to put directives in place for someone's care while they are still alive. If someone is not able to care for themselves when they are older, a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy can ensure that individuals are taken care of in the manner they prefer. These documents can also determine who will be in charge of making choices if someone is not able to do so themselves.

Additionally, even if people are married and share property, a will can determine who will take care of their children if something happens to both parents. Without a will, children will still receive a couple's property, but it will be up to the state in most cases to determine who will take care of them and handle their assets.

If someone has not created basic documents related to estate planning, they might benefit from speaking with a lawyer who may be able to help them get these documents in order. People who already have a will and other legal documents may also want to consult a lawyer, if they have not reviewed them recently, to ensure that they are up to date.

Source: CBS Local, "Estate Planning Is Essential," Dee Lee, March 22, 2013

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