New Jersey residents and others who are thinking about their legacy may want to start creating an estate plan today. At a minimum, an estate plan will contain a will or a trust in addition to a health care and financial power of attorney. The will or trust will give a person greater control over how assets are handled. In the absence of a will, assets may go to surviving family members such as parents or children.
However, if there are no survivors, assets may be claimed by the state. While some may not experience negative consequences of not having a will or trust, most people will have a need for it. The financial power of attorney allows a designated person to take steps to ensure that a person's bills are paid while he or she is mentally incapacitated. Absent this document, the state may determine who oversees a person's finances while incapacitated.
A medical power of attorney allows an individual to create instructions as to how they wish to be treated while incapacitated. For instance, it may direct a doctor or hospital staff to provide or withhold treatment for any reason. Regardless of how an estate plan is set up, it is important to start planning as soon as possible. This may make it easier to take stock of what the plan should account for.
Wills, trusts and other estate planning documents may make it possible to help a person have his or her wishes met after passing. In some cases, estate plan documents may allow a person to have his or her intentions met while still alive. An attorney may act as a trustee or executor of an estate, and this person may also be able to review estate plan documents an individual has created.