No one in New Jersey likes to contemplate death — especially his or her own. However, doing so is essential for many reasons, the least of which is to save family members a good deal of trouble when they are already mourning the loss of a loved one. Estate planning could be considered the best way to care for family.
Of course, an estate plan provides for family members after death. At the very least, a will directs who will receive certain assets and even provides for a guardian for minor children. However, an estate plan does more than that.
When a person dies without a will, the state of New Jersey gets to decide what happens to an individual’s property and even his or her children in some cases. Further, a family is left in chaos trying to determine what the decedent owned and owed. Family members may end up in court, battling to figure out who would be the best guardian for any minor children left behind. If a person is seriously injured or suffers from a chronic illness and is incapacitated, family members need the ability to take care of him or her. Without proper estate planning, that could mean a significant delay in treatment or other care while the family goes to court to obtain the right to take care of the individual and his or her financial affairs.
Estate planning can avoid putting family members through these hardships and heartaches. Depending on the size and complexity of a person’s estate, different documents may be necessary to fulfill a person’s wishes. At a minimum, everyone could benefit from a will, a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. These documents could provide everyone involved with peace of mind.
Source: CBS Boston, Estate Planning 101, Dee Lee, March 21, 2014