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How to avoid mistakes in estate planning

New Jersey residents may be interested in knowing that estate planning is not always easy. Mistakes in the process can cause issues when it becomes time to distribute a person's assets. However, there are some steps that can be followed to help avoid those mistakes.

The first step is to get all estate planning documents organized before beginning the process. A person should also review state estate tax laws to account for taxes. It is also important to review state formalities because not all states will allow a person to draft an estate plan without witnesses or proper notarization. Assets must be titled properly to ensure that they do not automatically transfer to joint owners if the person wanted to share the asset with someone else. A person who establishes a revocable living trust must remember to fund it, or beneficiaries get an empty account. A trust is often the best method of leaving assets to minors.

It can also be important to monitor and change beneficiaries periodically in the event that someone marries, divorces, dies or has a child. Next, heirs to a person's estate need to be able to access the important documents or they won't know what to do. One option is to use an online file storage service to hold copies of all important documents. A no-contest clause that prevents heirs who contest the will from inheriting may also help avoid disputes later.

With a little assistance, estate planning does not need to be stressful or difficult. An attorney may be able to help by explaining relevant state tax issues and what formalities are required. An attorney may also be able to draft an estate plan and help fight to uphold it if heirs try to contest the client's decisions.

Source: Life health pro, "10 steps for avoiding estate planning mistatkes", Ed Mccarthy, June 06, 2013

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