In the midst of leading a busy life, many people fail to take the time to consider what might happen if they die without a will or advanced directive (otherwise known as a “living will”). Unfortunately, the fact is that accidental injuries, illnesses, and chronic health conditions happen when you least expect them and can have a devastating effect on the people you love most. As an experienced New Jersey family law attorney, we can help you make sure they are protected. The following are three important advance planning documents that need to be a part of your estate plan.
Creating a Will
A will is one of the most important documents you can have to protect your loved ones. It provides a detailed inventory of your estate, conveys your final wishes, ensures inheritance rights, and helps to avoid time consuming and costly probate proceedings. Unfortunately, the American Association of Retired People (AARP) reports that roughly 60% of U.S. citizens do not have this important document in place.
Legal requirements for creating a will in New Jersey dictate that it must be in writing, that you must have been in sound mind when it was created, and that it must be signed by you and two witnesses. To prevent having your will be contested in the probate court, these should be two people who do not inherit from your estate. Issues to address when creating you will include:
- Listing a complete inventory of all property and assets;
- Naming a beneficiary, who will appear at probate hearings, settle the estate, and oversee beneficiary distributions;
- Making sure your will is updated regularly to include recently acquired property or assets and to reflect changes in your relationships and family members.
A will is an important first step in ensuring your loved ones are protected. Advance directives take an additional step in communicating your wishes in the event you suffer a serious and potentially life threatening injury or illness. If you have never discussed these issues with your loved ones, it is important to do so now. Having to guess as to what someone may have wanted or how to handle certain affairs only makes a difficult time in their lives that much worse.
The New Jersey Department of Health advises that there are two types of advance directives everyone should have in place:
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Otherwise known as a proxy directive, this authorizes someone you name to act on your behalf in making decisions regarding your health care. This person acts as your ‘health care representative’ in the event you are not able to communicate your wishes on your own.
- Living Will: Also known as an instructional directive, this informs your physician and other medical providers of the type of end of life care you wish to receive. This may include instructions regarding your general care and treatment, along with the use of feeding tubes, ventilators, and other types of extraordinary care. It prevents your family from having to agonize over these decisions while trying to guess what you may have wanted.
Reach Out to Our New Jersey Family Law Attorney Today
Regardless of your health or your age, you want to have the appropriate documents in place to ensure your family is protected. At the Law Office Of Jordan B. Rickards, we provide the trusted legal guidance you need when addressing these and other estate planning issues. Call or contact our Middlesex County, New Jersey family law attorney online today, or call 732-297-8200, and request a free consultation to see how we can assist you.