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The basics of a will

You are never too young to begin your estate planning. Starting your will can give you peace of mind, knowing that you have made the steps to ensure your loved ones do not suffer financially after your death. It can help you and other New Jersey residents to know how will planning works.

A will is a legal document that details how you want your assets to be distributed after you pass on. Does it sound overwhelming when you think about what you might put into your will? The following points include some common elements in a will, which might help you begin:

  • You need to designate an executor of your will – someone who carries out your wishes. This can be anyone you deem suitable for the task, such as your oldest child or someone you trust with financial transactions.
  • You can decide how you want to divide your assets among your beneficiaries. You might leave your home for one child, a vacation home for another and divide your vehicles. You could also specify that you want the executor of your estate to sell your assets and divide the funds from them and your retirement pension among your children.
  • If you have grandchildren, you can declare that each of them receive an inheritance. Small or large, it is up to you.
  • You may designate any furniture, antiques, family heirlooms, jewelry and such to certain members of your family.
  • You can plan for the unlikely event that you and your spouse die when your children are young, and appoint someone you trust as their guardian.
  • If you decide to leave a relative out of your will, you can do so. It may be a good idea to explain your reasons for this.

It is important to have a will in place before something prevents you from planning one, such as an accident or incapacitating illness. If you die without a will, this is known as dying intestate, and the state will intervene to distribute your assets. If your estate goes to probate without a will, the judge might make decisions that you might not have wished for your loved ones.

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