By Marjorie L. Rand, CPA, CFP®, RICP®
When is the last time you updated or reviewed your estate plan? Perhaps more importantly—do you have an estate plan that consists of all necessary documents and do you fully understand the plan? If not, you’re not alone. In 2021, only 44% of adults age 55 and older have an estate plan. (1)
The consequences of not having an estate plan can be severe for your surviving loved ones. In this article, we discuss the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan as well as the most common types of documents your estate plan might include.
Who Needs An Estate Plan?
Estate planning is important for anyone who will leave behind money or other assets, such as real estate, when they pass away. A good estate plan ensures your wealth is distributed to the people or charities you want to receive it. The estate plan makes it much easier for your executor to manage the affairs of your estate.
If you are a New Jersey resident and pass away without a will or estate plan, your county Surrogate Court will appoint a personal representative to handle the administration of your estate and divide up your assets according to state laws of intestacy. Most people don’t like to think about the state government handling their assets, which is why estate planning should be a critical part of your financial plan.
What Might An Estate Plan Include?
The most basic document in an estate plan is the will. A will can be used to designate many aspects of your affairs, including but not limited to:
- Division of your assets
- Wishes for your personal items
- Guardianship for your minor children
- Instructions for how to pay your debts
When you create a will, you must name the person in the will you wish to be the executor, who will oversee the administration of your wishes that have been stated in the will. You can create a will on your own or in partnership with a trusted expert, such as an estate attorney.
If you have an especially large estate or family members who are prone to disputes, you may need to set up a trust in addition to a will. Certain types of trusts provide more support and protection for people with large estates that may be subject to taxes or predatory creditors. Trusts are more complex and costlier to set up than wills, so you should expect to work with a professional when setting up trusts.
Your estate plan may also include an advanced directive, which specifies your wishes regarding end-of-life care. An advanced directive may also define your wishes in case of physical or mental incapacity. This document helps ensure your family members are making a decision you would support and removes the agonizing need for them to make important healthcare decisions without your input.
How Can You Create An Estate Plan?
While you may be able to draft a will on your own using the internet, most people with a net worth of $100,000 or more may be in need of more robust estate planning. In addition to hiring an estate attorney, you should partner with a financial planner who can help you make sure all aspects of your financial situation are covered by the estate plan. Schedule a 20-minute introductory call, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 908-895-2406 to see if we are the right firm to help you on your financial journey.
Marjorie Rand is founder and financial advisor at Rand Financial Planning, a comprehensive, fee-only, fiduciary financial planning firm. Marge specializes in helping her clients plan for a secure retirement and navigate life’s many transitions through customized, tax-efficient retirement planning. She is passionate about empowering her clients to make the best financial decisions for their life and being by their side no matter what life throws at them. Marjorie spent many years as a CPA before founding Rand Financial Planning so she could be a go-to source for all her clients’ financial needs and help them avoid costly mistakes. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Rutgers University and a Master of Science in Taxation from Fairleigh Dickinson University, along with the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® (CFP®) designations. When she’s not working, Marge enjoys boating, horseback riding, traveling, and hiking with her husband and her dog, Rangeley. To learn more about Marjorie, connect with her on LinkedIn.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and is provided at least in part by Twenty Over Ten and other sources. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Original content of Rand Financial Planning, LLC. only is copyright © 2021 by Rand Financial Planning, LLC. All rights reserved