If you're a young professional of the millennial generation, you've probably got a lot on your plate. High unemployment during the Great Recession, an average of $30,000 in student loans -- you've even redefined the American Dream as a life lived without debt.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was passed in part to protect patient privacy. Entities covered by HIPAA, such as healthcare providers and insurance companies, are generally prohibited from releasing personally identifiable health information to anyone unless the disclosure is necessary for treatment, to protect public health, or for certain other purposes considered critical.
New Jersey residents often hear that it is a good idea to put their affairs in order to ensure that their wishes are carried out after death. However, once people begin to look into what estate planning entails, they are often overwhelmed by the multitude of documents and choices in front of them. Having at least a rudimentary understanding of the terminology associated with estate planning could make the process less confusing.
Many New Jersey residents, especially young people, tend to believe they do not need to plan for their death. However, no one knows how long he or she has on this Earth. Further, an estate plan is not just about death, it is about documenting an individual's wishes if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions.
Every day in New Jersey and across the country, people are involved in serious accidents or contract serious illnesses. Some of those people are unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves during these times -- at least temporarily. This is when family members can turn to the incapacitated individual's estate plan for his or her living will in order to ensure that family members and physicians are aware of that person's wishes. Without a living will, family members are often left to make decisions that person may not have wanted. Further, they may have to go to court in order to be granted the right to make decisions on that person's behalf, and that could waste valuable time during which decisions need to be made.
Now that the federal tax exemption is over $5 million per individual, many people believe they no longer need an estate plan. However, limiting tax liability was never the main benefit for many people. Estate planning provides for loved ones the disposition of an individual's property and a guardian for minor children. It also provides for the health and financial well-being of a New Jersey resident in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated.
Many in New Jersey tend to be overwhelmed before they even begin the estate planning process. For this reason, the idea of sitting down to create an estate plan may seem slightly less terrifying than going to the dentist. In reality, the process can be broken down into simple steps that can make it more manageable and less of a mystery.
More individuals are sitting down and speaking with family members about their personal wishes for end-of-life care. However, there are still countless others that never memorialize their desires in a planning document, such as a living will, and family members and staff at long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, end up at an impasse when conflict arises.