As the New Year unfolds, it’s the perfect time for setting goals and planning ahead. Whether you’re just starting on your plan or looking to update it, estate planning is a timely and crucial task for securing your future and that of your loved ones. At The Chamberlain Law Firm, we are committed to guiding you through each step of this important journey. In this article, our New Jersey estate planning attorneys will provide estate planning tips to get you started on the right foot.
Consider maintaining a planner or journal to track your estate planning process. This not only helps you keep a detailed record of your decisions and updates but also ensures that your estate planning journey is well-documented and easy to follow. Let’s start this year right by setting clear, achievable estate planning goals.
Locate and Organize Important Documents
Start organizing your vital documents such as birth certificates, adoption records, marriage certificates, social security cards, and military records. This will help your loved ones not worry about locating documents so they can focus on other important tasks like handling obituaries, death certificates, and tax returns. By securely storing these documents and telling your loved ones where they are, you’ll provide relief and clarity for your family during challenging times. This act of organization is a meaningful way to show care and foresight.
Arrange Care For Your Minor Children & Others
If you have minor children, it’s important to think about who will look after them. Choose a guardian you trust and include it in your will, so you don’t leave it up to the courts. Our article offers in-depth advice on picking the right guardian.
Don’t forget any other dependents, like loved ones who rely on you or your pets. Make sure your plans cover them too. Setting up a trust for your minor children, dependents, or pets ensures they continue to receive support. For more insights on creating a trust, check out our detailed article to help safeguard your loved ones’ futures.
Consider What You Want to Happen to Your Business
As a business owner, it’s wise to think about what will happen to your business when you’re no longer around. Decide whether you’d like to sell your stake or pass it on to a family member. All the time and effort you’ve put into your business deserves a thoughtful continuation or conclusion. Planning ahead helps lift the weight off your loved ones’ shoulders and ensures your business is cared for. Taking this step protects the legacy and rewards of your hard work.
Look Into Life Insurance
Life insurance offers the advantage of providing your beneficiaries with direct access to benefits, bypassing the sometimes lengthy probate process. Discussing with an attorney can help you explore which life insurance plan best suits your needs.
Create Health Care Directives
Healthcare directives, such as healthcare proxies and living wills, are important for making sure your medical wishes are honored if you can’t speak for yourself. Working with an attorney helps set these documents up correctly, ensuring no delays when important decisions need to be made.
A healthcare proxy is sometimes referred to as a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This document lets you designate a trusted person to make healthcare decisions for you in case you are incapacitated. Be sure to choose someone who deeply understands your values and wishes.
Meanwhile, a living will outlines the medical care you prefer in the worst case scenario, including choices about artificial nutrition, hydration, and other life-sustaining measures. Medical professionals are generally bound to respect this document, ensuring your healthcare choices are followed.
Execute a Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney designates someone you trust to oversee your finances if you’re unable to do so. You can choose a different person from your healthcare proxy if you prefer. Make sure to clearly express or document your financial wishes to guide their decisions. This arrangement ensures your financial matters are managed in a way that reflects your objectives, offering you peace of mind.
Make Funeral and Burial or Cremation Arrangements
Planning your funeral, burial, or cremation in advance can help your loved ones during a difficult time. Let them know if you have a favorite funeral home or specific service in mind, like a beautiful mass or a simple gathering. Would you prefer burial or cremation? Making these decisions now can ease their minds later.
Also, taking the time to look into caskets, urns, and burial plots ahead of time can help you find the best options at the best price. By planning these details, you’ll save your loved ones from making tough decisions and financial stress, ensuring that more of your estate goes to the people and causes you care about. It’s a wonderful way to show you care, even when you’re not there.
For more estate planning tips regarding your funeral and more, be sure to read our article.
Draft a Will and/or Trust With an Estate Planning Attorney
Working with an estate planning attorney allows you to create essential documents like wills and trusts. A will and a trust will specify how your property should be handled after your death and who you want to handle everything. A will goes through the court administered probate process to appoint your trusted individual/s to administer your estate, a trust does not.
There are pros and cons to choosing a trust and/or a will but, at the least, creating a will is particularly important. Without one, state laws will dictate what happens to your assets, which might not align with your wishes. Securing these documents with professional help puts you in control of your estate’s future.
As you move forward with your estate planning resolutions, remember that each step you take is a stride towards a more secure and well-managed future for you and your loved ones. Estate planning might seem daunting at first, but with careful consideration and the right guidance, you can craft a plan that reflects your wishes and gives you peace of mind. Keep your planner or journal updated as your life evolves, and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice when needed.
At The Chamberlain Law Firm, we’re here to support and guide you through every decision, ensuring your resolutions lead to lasting benefits. To get started on your estate planning goals, give us a call at (201) 273-9763. For more estate planning tips, be sure to check out our Insight Articles. Here’s to a proactive and prepared New Year!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. In the event you would like to speak with a lawyer about the specifics of your case, contact The Chamberlain Law Firm at (201) 273-9763 to schedule a consultation.