Having an estate plan can mean different things to different people. Some New Jersey residents may think that having a will is enough to get their wishes across and that they do not need to bother themselves with doing anything else. Others, like you, want to create a comprehensive plan to make sure that your wishes are as clear as possible.
While there is nothing wrong with just having a will if a person believes it covers his or her wishes, an estate plan can go far beyond just considering after-life affairs. As a result, you may want to consider certain planning tools that you may not have before.
What should your plan include?
A comprehensive estate plan covers various matters, including after-life wishes, instructions for health care while you are still living, beneficiary designations and other important appointments. Fortunately, many estate planning tools can help ensure that these aspects are represented properly in the plan. Some useful tools include the following:
- Wills play an important part in any estate plan because they can allow individuals to name executors and guardians, so even if parties use trusts to distribute their assets, a will can still be useful.
- Beneficiary designations allow you to name a specific person to receive a particular asset. In many cases, financial accounts, life insurance policies and other assets allow for transfer-on-death action, which means that the assets will pass directly to the intended beneficiary without having to go through probate first.
- Powers of attorney can play various roles in an estate plan. You can appoint someone to handle your financial affairs in the event that you lose the capability to do so yourself, and you can appoint someone to handle your healthcare matters in the event of your incapacitation.
- A letter of intent is not necessarily a formal estate planning tool, but it can still be beneficial. This letter gives you the opportunity to explain why you made certain decisions to ensure that your loved ones know you did so with clear reasoning.
These examples are only a few of the many tools and planning options that could help you create a comprehensive estate plan. If you are interested in gaining more information on these or other options, you may want to discuss your specific circumstances with an experienced attorney knowledgeable in this area of law.