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6 steps to creating an estate plan

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2022 | Blog, Estate Administration

Creating a New Jersey estate plan is important to plan for the event you become incapacitated or die. You may have pets that you want to ensure will have loving homes and digital property to either delete or pass on.

1. List your assets and debts

You first need to know what you’re working with to create an estate plan. When people draft plans without becoming clear on what their assets and debts are, they may think they’re leaving behind more than they are for beneficiaries. After your death, creditors could claim a portion of your estate, regardless of what your plan was.

2. List your beneficiaries

It’s helpful to make a list of all of the people and charities that you want to pass on assets to.

3. Name a health care representative

If you were to become incapacitated, your health care representative will make healthcare decisions on your behalf. New Jersey allows you to choose any adult to be your health care representative, including an adult child, your spouse or a friend. It’s a good idea to also appoint an alternative representative in case something were to happen to your first choice.

4. Name a financial agent

You may need your finances managed if you were to become incapacitated. Thus, it’s important to choose a financial agent who can pay your bills and manage your investments when you aren’t able to. You must fill out the Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney form to appoint a financial agent.

5. Choose your primary document

There are two main documents to center your estate planning around: wills and trusts. New Jersey allows you to use both, but you may want to choose an area to focus and use the other tool to supplement it. If you have personal digital property, then you could address what you want to happen in a will. Some people will want a person whom they trust to delete certain files on their electronic devices.

6. Remember your pets

Make arrangements for what will happen to your pets after you die. You may want to find someone who’s willing to take care of them for you. Consider setting up a pet trust to set aside money that a trusted person can use to cover their veterinarian bills and living expenses.