Some people in New Jersey may have postponed creating an estate plan because they think only wealthy individuals need to make an estate plan or because they are concerned about the complexity of the process. However, an estate plan is important to ensure that an individual’s wishes are carried out and their beneficiaries are taken care of as intended.
Once created, estate plans should be reviewed and updated regularly. Changes in laws, in a person’s finances or in the family can all mean the estate plan needs to be changed. Whether the individual is reviewing an existing plan or creating one for the first time, the first step should be to gather all important documents and a list of assets. Key family members should be told where all of these things can be found. People should also think about their estate planning goals. For example, they may want to make sure that minor children are cared for or that certain beneficiaries get certain assets.
Wills, beneficiary designations and powers of attorney are among the documents that might need to be reviewed or created. People may also want to consider a trust as part of their estate plan. An attorney may be able to help in creating the right type of trust. Trusts may be revocable or irrevocable depending on a person’s goals.
It is important to choose the right individuals for various roles within the estate plan. A will appoints an executor to administer the estate. The executor should be well-organized and responsible but does not need to be an expert on legal or financial matters. It is permissible to hire an attorney to assist with this administration. Being a trustee may require more time and expertise, and some people prefer to appoint a corporate trustee for this reason.