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The will is the cornerstone of any New Jersey estate plan

Estate planning memorializes the wishes of a New Jersey resident with respect to two primary circumstances -- death and incapacitation. When it comes to preparing an estate plan for the distribution of assets after death, a will typically serves as the cornerstone of that plan. The three important components of a will are to whom property is distributed, who will distribute the property and who will become guardian of a person's minor children, if any.

The first thing to do is to make a comprehensive list of accounts, real estate and other personal belongings. Then it will need to be decided who will receive what assets. This is also a good time to review any accounts that pass by operation of law, such as retirement accounts or insurance policies, to be sure the person listed as the beneficiary is still the person the individual wants to receive the proceeds of the account.

Choosing an executor to handle the administration of an estate is nearly as important as appointing a guardian for minor children. Both people -- if they are not the same person -- need to be trustworthy and willing to take on the job. It also helps if that person or those persons have a similar set of beliefs and understand the wishes of the testator.

Once all of the information is gathered and decisions are made, the will can be drafted and executed in accordance with current New Jersey laws. The same goes for the remainder of the documents that will make up an individual's estate plan. These documents should be reviewed from time to time to be sure they still reflect the wishes of the individual creating them.

Source: insurancenewsnet.com, "Estate Planning: Get Ahead", Maj. Bradley Morris, May 30, 2014

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