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Estate planning is a gift to those who are left behind

Many articles focus on the various needs that individuals in New Jersey have in regard to planning their final financial or health matters. These needs are undeniably important, but there is another way to view estate planning, one that has nothing to do with the needs of the individual who begins and completes that process. Creating a clear and comprehensive estate plan is a gift that one gives to their loved ones, and can help ease what will otherwise be a difficult and emotionally stressful time.

Take, for example, the creation of an advance directive. These documents outline what type of treatment an individual would like to receive in the event of an incapacitating injury or illness. That is important for the person who might encounter a medical emergency, but consider how such a directive can assist those who will be tasked with making these medical decisions. Immediately after an emergency, loved ones will be overcome with fear and stress, and it is at that time that they will be asked a series of incredibly difficult questions by medical personnel. Having an advance directive gives them a roadmap for the type of care that a loved one would want, and takes a great deal of stress away from the decision-making process.

By following the directions outlined within an advance directive, loved ones can choose a course of medical treatment that they know is in line with what the drafting party wants. This can help avoid disputes and strife between family members during an already difficult time. Without such a directive, many families experience bitter arguments over serious medical choices, the repercussions of which can color the relationships between family members for the rest of their lives.

In order for an advance directive of a New Jersey resident to be most effective, it is necessary to sit down with those who will be asked to carry out the instructions within and discuss the matter. In this way, there can be no confusion about how one would want to be cared for in the event of a medical emergency. It can be helpful to include all close family members in this discussion, so that the individual(s) tasked with carrying out one’s wishes will have the support and understanding of the rest of the family if the time comes to implement this important estate planning tool.

Source: New Hampshire Union-Leader, "Know the Law: Formal estate plan spares your loved ones heartache", Alexandra T. Breed, June 9, 2014

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