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Estate planning is essential for New Jersey parents

Virtually every parent in New Jersey wants to see his or her children grow up, and most will get that chance. However, there are no guarantees in life, and estate planning becomes crucial for parents who have minor children. Without any plan in place, family members could spend a significant amount of time and money in court in certain circumstances.

The issue is twofold. First, there is the matter of who the parents want to raise their children if the unthinkable happens. If there is no will, it will be up to the court to decide who will become the children's guardian. That means that family members could end up in a court battle, attempting to convince the court who would be best suited to take care of the children.

Then there is the issue of the children inheriting the assets of their parents. By law, minors -- defined as children under the age of 18 -- are not allowed to own property. Therefore, if there is no will, a conservator will be appointed by the court to care for the property until the child reaches 18 years of age. At this point, the child will inherit all of the assets outright, which could run contrary to the parents' intentions.

Setting up a trust as part of an estate plan gives the creator control over how the assets are to be used and when distributions can be made. Even basic estate planning can avoid the time and expense family members would have to expend in an already challenging time. New Jersey parents can provide themselves, family members and their children with peace of mind that these crucial decisions have been made ahead of time.

Source: mvprogress.com, "Estate Planning with Young Children", V. Robison, July 16, 2014

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