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The benefit of having a simple estate plan checklist

Creating a comprehensive and effective estate plan is greatly aided by using a checklist. Even a simple estate plan is comprised of a number of different documents. While each New Jersey family will have a unique set of estate planning needs, there are a number of tools that are commonly used. Understanding these tools and their benefits can make it easier to create a customized solution.

A will is the base of many estate plans, and for good reason. A will is the document that outlines an individual's wishes. The specifics can include a list of heirs and the property that is intended to pass to those individuals, and can name the guardians intended to assume the care of minor children. There are a wide range of inclusions that can be added to a will, and no two wills are ever exactly the same.

Many people also include incapacitation documents, such as a living will and various forms of power of attorney. A living will allows a person to outline the specific medical treatment that he or she would wish to receive in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury. Powers of attorney allow an individual to designate someone to handle his or her legal, financial and/or medical decisions, should the need arise.

Many people also include a document that lists all assets, as well as the location of those assets. This gives loved ones a clear understanding of the range of wealth, and also relays the means of accessing those resources. Some also choose to include personal letters with their other documents. This can ensure that loved ones are given the comfort of a personalized message during their time of grief, which can be a very special touch.

Regardless of the size of one's estate or the type and number of estate planning tools that are included within the overall plan, having a checklist is a good way to ensure a positive outcome. Even a simple estate plan will result in a number of documents. By following a checklist, New Jersey residents can rest assured that nothing important has been overlooked.  

Source: marketwatch.com, "Review your estate plan against this 14-point checklist", Art Koff, July 20, 2015

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