It is not uncommon for New Jersey residents to assume they do not need an estate planning because of what they believe to be an insufficient amount of property to worry about. However, estate planning is a way of ensuring that people’s assets are distributed according to their wishes when they pass on. Anyone with any items of value will want to have an estate plan in place.
The most important part of any estate is a will. A will determines who will take care of children if their parents are unable to, decides who will get what assets, minimizes estate taxes and names the executor, which is the person who will take care of administering the will. Without a will, it is up to the state to determine how these issues will be decided. This means that benefits and childcare often fall to an individual’s closest blood relative. While that may be fine in many cases, it could mean that an individual that someone would never leave the care of their children or assets to may end up with them.
A will can be changed at any time during a person’s life, and it does not have to be complicated unless the assets and directives involved require it. Additionally, even if someone does not have enough assets to worry about federal taxes, a will can help manage state taxes that could be an issue.
A lawyer may be able to help someone understand what estate planning documents do and which are needed depending on an individual’s circumstances. Additionally, a lawyer could help someone draw these documents up so they are most beneficial to their heirs.
Source: Fox Business, “The Basics of Estate Planning”, Constance Fontaine, June 19, 2013