As 2014 draws to a close, people's thoughts may not only be on the holidays, but also on wrapping up their finances for the year. This is a good time to take stock of any estate-planning arrangements that need to be made. Every adult New Jersey resident needs an estate plan -- especially if he or she has children or property.
None of us knows what the future holds. Therefore, regardless of how young the adult is, he or she needs at least a will and powers of attorney for health and finances. Depending on his or her unique circumstances, more documents may be needed to properly handle his or her affairs in the way the individual desires.
Without at least a will, a person's assets may not be distributed as he or she would have preferred since they will handled according to the laws of intestacy in New Jersey. If both parents are deceased, the children may not end up with the person or persons that the parents would have chosen. Even if a family does not argue over who should be the children's guardian, time and money will need to be expended to petition the court. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the court will agree, and the process could begin again.
Once an estate plan is in place, family members can be made aware of an individual's wishes regarding the disposition of his or her assets. If a child or children are involved, everyone will know who is responsible for taking care of the children should anything happen to one or parents. Making these choices in advance can save family members who are already grieving for their loss from spending any more time settling the decedent's affairs than is necessary.
Source: wcpo.com, "3 reasons to include estate planning in New Year's resolutions", Eric Pfahler, Dec. 5, 2014