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Estate planning a necessity for everyone

Recent and upcoming legislation will make changes to estate taxes. The proposed changes will impact taxes connected with individual estates. However, those changes don't alter the fact that there are millions of people who die each year without having the basic documents in place to protect their families. It is so important for New Jersey residents, regardless of age, to consider even the basics of estate planning by having a will in place.

While establishing an estate plan is often something that mature adults create as they get older. It is also an important task for "new" adults.

College students generally do not take into consideration the possibility of becoming incapacitated. They are generally busy embracing the advent of adulthood and their first taste of freedom. The problem that some young adults encounter is that if they are hospitalized they may not have anyone designated to make important health care decisions for them.

A health care proxy, also called a health care power of attorney, is a useful document that will allow young adults to designate someone to make these important decisions should you be unable to do so. The power of attorney is an essential part of every estate plan.

Young, unmarried adults may not think that they are in need of estate planning since they feel they don't have any assets. Few realize that a 401(k) or a life insurance policy at work will need a beneficiary designated.

Single-parenthood is becoming more prevalent in today's society. Parents should consider naming a guardian for your children. If a guardian is not named it is up to the court to decide who will raise your children.

There are many important milestones throughout an individual's lifetime. With each event, it is equally important to ensure that an estate plan is created or amended to account for the changes. Marriage, divorce, birth, death (and yes, even taxes) are all events that New Jersey residents face each day. A well-thought out estate plan can anticipate the what-if scenarios, so those special moments can be enjoyed to the fullest.

Source: Forbes.com, "The Real Estate-Planning Crisis Isn't About Taxes," Deborah L. Jacobs, June 27, 2012

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