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An estate plan is only as good as the chosen representatives

For some New Jersey residents, choosing the people to represent them in the case of incapacity or death is more difficult that making other estate planning decisions. These people could literally be making life and death decisions on an individual's behalf. When creating an estate plan, time should be taken to carefully consider these choices.

That is not to say that the documents themselves do not require careful consideration. However, if the right person or persons are not in charge of carrying out an individual's wishes, the documents are likely not serving their intended purpose. It may be prudent to take as much time as needed to make a choice that will give the estate planner the most peace of mind.

First, it is important that a chosen individual is someone who can be trusted. This may be a family member, but it does not have to be. Friends, corporations or a combination of family and friends represent many estate plans. A choice should not be made based on whether someone's feelings may be hurt because he or she was not chosen. Also, some family members may not wish to serve or may not be sure they can perform in the capacity for which they are being considered.

A New Jersey estate plan is only as good as the people chosen to carry it out. It may be a good idea to consult the person or persons an individual wishes to designate in order to be sure they are even willing to be named. Before making such an important decision, it may be a good idea to seek advice and assistance in understanding the duties that will be performed by an agent in a power of attorney, the trustee of a trust and/or the executor of a will.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Choosing the right people for your estate plan", Nedra Rhone, Aug. 6, 2014

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