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The importance of estate planning in New Jersey

It's important for New Jersey residents to plan how their estates will be distributed when the time comes, but many of them may not know the importance of the estate planning process. Without a solid estate plan, their children don't always know what assets they own, and these assets are often scattered in different places. Even after the assets are assembled and the family can start dividing them, there are often issues with various ownership structures, account titles and beneficiary information.

Dated estate planning may not keep up with the changing laws, and it may not reflect a person's current financial position. As a result, surviving family members may face a mess of paperwork that is difficult to understand and time-consuming to sort through. The more convoluted the estate is with accounts in various joint names and housed at different banks, the more tedious it will be to finalize and divide.

Although individuals may not feel comfortable talking with their children or other potential heirs about their finances, it is still important to sit down and have this conversation. Estate administration can be smooth and easy if the proper forms are completed ahead of time. In addition to keeping their children informed of their financial health and estate, people will also be able to make important decisions regarding their current assets.

A skilled New Jersey estate planning lawyer may be able to help families save on estate taxes, simplify the distribution process and avoid a lengthy probate period. The best way to maximize wealth protection is to meet with an experienced lawyer ahead of time to ensure that the estate is in good order. The size of the estate does not matter either: Small estates should also be protected, preserved and divided according to the owner's wishes.

Source: Patriot Ledger, "What does your parents' estate plan do?," John Napolitano, April 21, 2013

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