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Are there gaps in your estate planning package?

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding estate planning is the idea that this is a singular, one-time need. Many in New Jersey feel that they can address the matter once and then move on, comforted by the fact that they have taken care of this important planning need. In reality, however, estate planning is more of a process, one that requires periodic review in order to ensure that one’s documents still reflect their wishes and their unique set of circumstances.

One of the most powerful ways to address this need is also among the simplest. Most individuals and couples can place all of their estate planning documents within a three-ring binder. Tabs or subject dividers can be used to separate documents such as wills, power of attorney forms, healthcare directives and life insurance paperwork. The binder should also have a section of blank paper, in which the users can write down questions or concerns as they arise.

Having these documents all in one place can make it far easier to have one’s attorney review the package and look for gaps. For example, many individuals create their estate plan in a piecemeal fashion, adding various tools at different times. The result can be a plan that may meet all of one’s intentions, but which would incur undue taxes. When an attorney looks over an existing plan that is well-organized, he or she can often suggest a different tool that can reduce the taxes due on the overall estate.

As with most financial matters, being organized can make a world of difference in achieving a successful outcome. For many New Jersey families, the solution to keeping all estate planning documents together is not a high-tech piece of software, but a simple three-ring binder. Once the components are gathered together in one place, having an attorney review these documents and look for gaps is the best way to make sure that the family has the best possible plan in place.

Source: LifeHealthPro, "How to find and fix gaps in an estate plan", Nichole Morford, Aug. 12, 2014

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