As a wills lawyer in Bergen County, NJ from a firm like the Law Offices of Joshua Kaplan can explain, having an estate plan in order is one of the best ways to protect your assets, your rights and the people you care about. Making sure that your estate is in order may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these steps to create your estate plan, and see how a lawyer can help.
Make a Will
One of the first things you should do is make a last will and testament. If you don’t have a will, the government will decide how to distribute your assets, which may mean that your loved ones will not get the portion of your belongings you want them to get. It’s an important step that will save your loved ones trouble later.
Make a Living Will
A last will and testament is not the same as a living will. A living will is also known as an advance directive, and it tells medical professionals how to care for you if you become incapacitated or so ill that you cannot make decisions for yourself. A living will typically includes instructions on whether to resuscitate you, give you blood transfusions or provide other life-sustaining measures.
Set Up a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone the authority to make decisions on your behalf. Even if you have a living will, you should still name a power of attorney over your medical care. Despite the name, a power of attorney does not have to be an attorney. It’s just a legal name used to describe the document.
Name a Guardian
Make sure your minor children are provided for by naming a guardian who will take over care of the children if both you and their other parent pass away. Also, ensure that you name someone who can handle your children’s financial affairs. This can be the same person you named as the physical guardian, or it can be someone different.
Set Up a Living Trust
Consider setting up a living trust. This legal document allows you to maintain control over who will receive your property when you die. The difference between a will and a living trust is that any of the assets held in the living trust will bypass the probate process, which means that your assets will immediately be distributed to your beneficiaries after you die.
You are never too young to start thinking about your estate plan. Contact an estate planning lawyer today to help make sure your assets are protected and your loved ones are cared for after your death.