For many New Jersey families, the period of time immediately following the loss of a loved one is stressful enough. Adding layers of complexity on top of the grieving process only serves to make this time even more difficult and should be avoided whenever possible. Often, the best way to reduce tensions and promote harmony among surviving loved ones is to create a simple estate plan that is focused on the wants and needs of those left behind.
In most cases, individuals create their estate planning package with the intent of passing down wealth and assets to those they care about. We spend a great deal of time thinking about what property we would like to pass on to whom. Often, we give far too little consideration to whether the individuals want or need those items, or if they might be better served by inheriting different assets.
A simple solution is found in having a series of frank and open conversations with one’s chosen heirs about the property or assets that they would like to receive. This can be a difficult conversation to have, but it should begin with a statement of intent: the desire to avoid conflict and tension when the time comes for one’s assets to be distributed. Many people are surprised by the outcome of these discussions, especially when a family member expressed no interest in certain items of value but is more focused on others. For many, this is an eye-opening experience and one that leads to conversations that are beneficial for all involved.
Once a discussion has been had with each of an individual’s chosen heirs, it is sometimes a good idea to share a simple estate plan outline with the entire family. This way, there will be no surprises when the time comes to distribute those assets. In addition, New Jersey family members may be less likely to challenge a will or engage in lengthy debate with other friends and family.
Source: marketwatch.com, “How to take the stress out of estate planning“, Brian Vnak, Sept. 2, 2015