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Three keys to a solid estate planning package

When considering the best way to construct one's estate plan, many in New Jersey are unsure of where to start. Estate planning is a highly personal matter, but there are certain elements that can benefit virtually everyone. Among these are a basic will and two different types of power of attorney documents.

A will is a great place to begin. This is where an individual lays out the full range of his or her assets, as well as to whom those assets are to be given. Within one's will, an executor is also named, who will be tasked with carrying out the provisions outlined within. A basic will can also name a parent or family's chosen guardians for their children, so that the transfer of those responsibilities can be eased in what could be a very difficult time.

Next comes a durable power of attorney. This is a tool that allows an individual to designate the person entrusted to make his or her medical decisions in the event of a serious illness or injury. This is an important aspect of estate planning, and one that can be called into effect before death.

Another important document to consider is a durable power of attorney meant to designate a financial proxy. This will grant an individual the legal right to make financial decisions on one's behalf, in the event that illness or injury leads to incapacitation. If one does not want these rights transferred outside of a serious illness or injury, it is important to make that clear within the document.

By making use of these three documents, a New Jersey resident will have built a strong estate planning base. From that point forward, additional documents can be added to meet a variety of needs. The process of planning one's estate is intimidating to many, but these three pieces of the puzzle are a great place to start.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Three Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Needs", Manisha Thakor, Jan. 6, 2015

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