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Spouse-centered estate planning tips

For many in New Jersey, the primary focus of their estate plans is to ensure that their families are taken care of in the event of their deaths. For married couples, the person best-suited to carry out one's wishes is usually the spouse. By centering estate planning around the person one trusts the most, a favorable outcome is not only possible, but likely.

Children, even adult children, are often not in tune with the manner in which a parent would like his or her final arrangements handled when the time comes. In addition, kids often have a very emotional reaction to the loss of a parent and may not have developed the coping skills needed to make important decisions during what can be a challenging time. In the case of married couples, most have discussed the matter at length, and each partner is familiar with the wishes and preferences of the other. This bond is also why one's spouse is usually the best person to be given power of attorney rights, which will allow him or her to make all medical and financial decisions in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury.

When it comes to the financial side of things, the best way for couples to structure a solid estate planning strategy is to discuss the ins and outs of their financial standing at length. Both spouses should be fully aware of the range of the family's assets and understand how that landscape might change with the death of either spouse. Considering these matters ahead of time can help a grieving spouse feel more in control of family finances when the time comes and can help avoid rash or emotionally-fueled decision making.

Very few people enjoy having lengthy discussions concerning their own deaths. That said, talking through these estate planning matters with one's spouse is the best way to provide for the family's stability when one partner predeceases the other. These conversations may be difficult, but they are also demonstrative of the love and care that New Jersey spouses have for each other -- and for their families.

Source: mainstreet.com, "Why Your Spouse Should Be at the Center of Your Estate Planning", Jason Notte, May 27, 2015

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