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McCurrie McCurrie
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Estate planning doesn't have to be complicated

Recently, Americans celebrated the life and leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was known for his brilliant vision of an America without racial segregation or discrimination. Interestingly enough, a man known for being forward-thinking didn't even have a will. Since his death there have been disputes over his estate because he didn't take steps to plan his estate. Yet planning an estate does not have to be a painful task, like many in New Jersey might think.

Recent estimates indicate that as many as 55 percent of Americans do not have a will. Should these people unexpectedly pass away, this could create a lot of headaches for loved ones they leave behind.

Those weighing the idea of creating a will should know that the process does not have to be complicated. There are a few things to consider that will make estate planning simpler:

  • Children: If you have children, it is very important to establish a legal guardian for them no matter how young you are. While it's unpleasant to imagine your kids without parents before they grow older, it is still important to plan ahead in the event that the unexpected happens.
  • Your Assets: Some people don't have a lot of assets to be concerned about, but naming a beneficiary for any assets you hold can prevent a legal mess after you pass away. Also, be sure to update intended beneficiaries as your situation changes.
  • Property: Include all of the real property you own in your will, such your regular residence and vacation home. Considering a trust for property may also be a viable option.
  • Special Causes: Ask yourself if there are any special people or causes you would like to leave money to and be sure to include them in your will.
  • Power of Attorney: Make sure you establish who you would like to act on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.

Realistically, it's never too early to begin planning your estate. As long as you're a legal adult, you can create a will. Of course, a will is not the first thing people think of doing, but it is a proactive step to take for your family and friends.

Source: Forbes, "A Common Sense Approach to Estate Planning," Nancy Anderson, Jan. 19, 2012

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