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Estate planning is as much for family as for New Jersey residents

Even though thinking about dying is not pleasant, many New Jersey residents take the time to put together an estate plan. However, this estate planning is not only for an individual, but for his or her family as well. It can give family members the peace of mind that they will not have to determine what to do with a loved one's assets.

Before embarking on putting together an estate plan, many New Jersey residents sit down with their family members to discuss their wishes. Discussing this information with them serves many functions -- one of which is to make everyone aware of how the individual intends to distribute his or her property. Some individuals may also want to ask intended heirs if there is any personal property belonging to him or her that individual heirs may want.

Even though it may be awkward at first, family members often end up feeling more comfortable with what will happen after their loved one passes away. In the midst of grieving and taking care of funerals, notifications and other details, it is often comforting to know that there are some decisions family members will not be forced to make. Creating an estate plan may be seen as the last gift an individual gives to those he or she loves.

Once all of the relevant information is gathered, formal estate planning can begin. Based on how an individual wishes to leave his or her property, certain documents may be necessary. At the center of every estate plan is a will, but that may not be enough to fulfill a person's wishes when it comes to leaving certain property to his or her heirs, since a trust may better meet those goals. In addition, certain documents are needed in order to account for the possibility of incapacitation prior to death, wherein medical and financial decisions need to be made. In all of these instances, making arrangements ahead of time can prevent loved ones from having to spend precious time and resources going to court.

Source: MarketWatch, "9 steps to getting your estate plan in order", Melody Juge, Nov. 3, 2014

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