Everyone should have an estate plan even if they aren’t wealthy or believe they are too young, and regardless of whether they have children or other close family members. Estate planning is essential for being ready for the unexpected, such as death, injury or illness.

If you get sick or are critically injured in an accident and can’t make your own medical or financial decisions, an estate plan lets someone you trust make those decisions and can allow you to live independently. Having a will or trust here in New Jersey also protects your family and assets from an uncertain future.

Reasons for creating an estate plan

There are many different goals for estate planning, including:

  • Ensuring who will care for underage children if both parents die
  • Financial security for close family members
  • Protecting wealth, including a family business and other assets
  • Planning for charitable giving
  • Reducing taxes on larger estates
  • Controlling assets after death

Steps to consider when creating a plan

An estate plan is crucial for making sure assets are transferred as smoothly as possible. To ensure an orderly process:

  • List assets that are included: Bank accounts, property, vehicles, business ownership, life insurance proceeds, investment and retirement funds and personal items are some of the assets to be considered.
  • Protecting assets that may be at risk: Consider risks such as, claims against a business, nursing home costs and potential future creditor claims against your estate.
  • Identify who will benefit: Think of anyone you want to care for and protect if you die or are incapacitated. This includes your spouse, children, parents, friends, business partners and even pets.
  • Designate charitable organizations: If you want part of your legacy to include charitable giving, consider organizations that you support and how those assets will be distributed.
  • Prepare for medical emergencies: Consider advanced health care directives, such as a health care power of attorney and living will and decide in advance whether you want extraordinary lifesaving measures taken or instead opt for a “do not resuscitate” order, or DNR.

Seek compassionate legal help for estate planning

Being pro-active is the only way to ensure your legacy by transferring assets to your loved ones and others as you see fit. An experienced estate planning attorney here in New Jersey can help you put a plan in place to fit the needs of you and your family, making sure your wishes are followed.