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Estate planning needs for those without children

In many cases, the central focus of estate planning involves creating a structure through which one’s assets can be passed down to their children in as simple a manner as possible. For single people or couples in New Jersey without children, estate planning can take a drastically different form. In such instances, the focus often shifts away from the allocation of assets and toward the assignation of responsibilities in the event that an individual becomes unable to make his or her own financial or medical decisions.

For those without children, there are several roles that need to be filled. Instead of placing all of the responsibilities onto one person, many choose to assemble a team of individuals who can fulfill these roles. In this way, no one person is likely to become overwhelmed, and each party can turn to the others for support if and when needed.

This support team might include an individual tasked with making one’s medical decisions if need be. By drafting a health care power of attorney, it is possible to authorize a trusted friend or family member to make medical decisions on one’s behalf. These documents can be as detailed as one wishes, and can outline which types of treatment are desired and which should be avoided. Having this level of detail in place can make it far easier for one’s health care proxy to fulfill this role if and when the time comes.

Another role involves creating a durable power of attorney. This individual would be responsible for making one’s financial decisions in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury. He or she would be granted the right to sell, transfer, invest or otherwise move assets as needed.

In some ways, New Jersey residents who do not have children will have an easier time constructing their estate plans. However, when there are fewer close loved ones to rely upon in the event that a serious medical issue arises, it becomes necessary to turn one’s estate planning attention to empowering others to fulfill these roles. With the right attention to detail, it is possible to cover these needs fully, and to move forward with the assurance that there are protections in place to provide both medical and financial assistance if and when needed.

Source: ironmountaindailynews.com, "Aging and estate planning for singles, couples without kids", , July 4, 2014

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