Taking Care of Tomorrow: Five Important Reasons Why You Need an Estate Plan
It’s easy to put off preparing your estate plan until tomorrow. Let’s talk about five good reasons to speak with an attorney and prepare your estate plan today.
Estate plans do more than direct the distribution of assets after you pass away. In fact, basic estate plans are essential for all adults over 18. Consider these key goals if you do not already have an estate plan:
- Taking care of yourself: Estate planning enables you to direct your own healthcare should you become incapacitated or terminally ill. In New Jersey and throughout the United States, all adults need an advance medical directive. Advance directives allow you to name a healthcare representative or proxy to carry out your wishes at end-of life. You can also prepare a Living Will that provides direction to your healthcare proxy, family members and medical team about life-sustaining measures that you may—or may not—desire.
- Taking care of others: After your death, an estate plan helps your family to regain their personal and financial stability. Preparing careful answers to important questions reduces the tension and stress on family members—and helps them move forward.
- Protecting your wealth and privacy: Your estate holds all of your assets and property. A well-prepared estate plan enables you to transfer the ownership of property and wealth outside of the public probate process. Your privacy is protected, legal costs are lowered and, importantly, assets are protected for those you love.
- Designating a guardian for minor children: No one expects to leave their child in the care of others. Naming a guardian for minor children is an act of love and responsibility that protects children if both parents pass away before those children reach adulthood.
- Avoiding intestacy: Individuals who pass away without a Will are termed intestate. Without a Will, the assets of your estate pass to heirs according to the law of New Jersey—not according to your wishes.
Your estate plan should be reviewed about every five years, or in the event of the following:
- A change in marital status: A divorce, marriage or the death of a spouse should trigger the review and revision of your estate plan. In the case of a later-life remarriage, an estate plan addresses the need to protect inheritance plans for adult children.
- A windfall or significant loss: If you reap a financial windfall or suffer a business loss, a review of your estate plan can address the change.
- Changes in law that apply to you: Changes to inheritance, trust and tax laws could affect distribution of your assets. Be sure your estate plan reflects current laws and limits.
There is no time like the present for preparing an estate plan. Protect yourself, your wealth and your beneficiaries by speaking with an estate planning attorney in New Jersey today.