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New Jersey estate planning is more than just a will

There is more to an estate plan than just a will. Depending on the complexity involved in the estate planning process, there can be numerous documents to execute. Generally, however, most estate plans share five documents.

Of course, no estate plan would be complete without a will. This is the document that lets the one's intentions be known. It will be filed with the probate court and protects a person's assets from being distributed by the state of New Jersey. A personal representative that will distribute assets and a guardian for any minor children are appointed in this document. Trusts may also be added to any estate plan for a variety of reasons.

A Durable Power of Attorney will allow a person of one's choice to step in on one's behalf when, and if, one is unable to make decisions for his or herself. This document ceased to be effective upon death. A Healthcare Power of Attorney appoint someone to make decisions regarding one's health if a patient is unable to do so. Along with a healthcare power of attorney, a living will can also ensure that a person's wishes are followed with regard to end-of-life care.

Having at least these five documents as part of an estate plan will ensure that all of a person's wishes regarding a variety of things both before and after death can bring a peace of mind to everyone. These estate planning documents will be as simple or complex as is necessary to properly safeguard a person's assets. Most everyone in New Jersey could benefit from having at least these five documents in their estate plans.

Source: thespectrum.com, Five important estate planning documents, Dustin Schofield, Sept. 27, 2013

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