When many New Jersey residents complete their estate planning packages, they feel overwhelming senses of relief at having handled such an important task. Often, they then place those documents into safes or file cabinets and move on to other projects. It is important to realize that estate planning is not a one-time event, and a properly structured estate plan must be revisited from time to time. In other words, simply having these documents in hand is not sufficient to ensure that one’s wishes are followed when the time comes.
A prime example is planning for the cost of long-term care needs. For those who own a business and wish to pass that business along to their children, it is imperative that the appropriate assets are shielded by a life estate deed or similar planning tool. This ensures that if the owner becomes ill or otherwise incapacitated, the business and related assets will be protected.
Another aspect of estate planning that must be periodically revisited is the designation of one’s chosen representatives. This includes the individuals tasked with handling both medical and financial powers of attorney. It is not uncommon for individuals to make changes to those designations over time, as circumstances shift. In some cases, the people chosen for these important roles are no longer able to carry out the tasks. In other cases, new relationships are formed that provide a more appropriate choice for these duties.
The best way to address estate planning needs is to think about the matter as a process, not a task. As time goes on, individuals and families will need to re-evaluate the choices that have been made to determine whether they are still in line with the wishes they were set out to support. By conducting a periodic review of one’s estate plan, a New Jersey resident can rest assured that his or her final wishes will be honored.
Source: farmandranchguide.com, “Estate planning is a journey — not a one-time thing”, Michael Baron, March 4, 2015