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Estate planning tips just for New Jersey women

Estate planning is critical for men and women. However, there are a few reasons that estate planning is even more important for women in New Jersey than it is for men. Women tend to have longer life expectancies, and they tend to marry men who are older than they are. As a result, women are more often widowed than men.

Because of that, it is especially important for women to make sure they have a clear understanding of exactly what their estate planning entails.

Your first priority should be ensuring that you are taken care of. Naming someone you trust as your durable power of attorney helps ensure your matters will be handled appropriately if you become incapacitated.

One theme that repeatedly comes up in our blog is the fact that everyone needs a will. Your home, personal property and bank accounts will be divided and distributed when you die. If you do not have a will, the state will choose who receives your inheritance.

Although we commonly stress the importance of creating an estate plan - which can include a will and trust - it is important to understand that the two are not interchangeable. Some trusts kick in when you are still alive, whereas wills are not activated until your death. Trusts can provide funds for family members; wills can name someone to take care of minor family members.

In addition, even though trusts can be used to manage finances for minors, they are not only for rich people. If you're leaving a small inheritance for your children or grandchildren, a trust can help ensure they do not have access to the money until they are financially responsible.

Read more in upcoming posts for additional estate planning tips for women.

Source: Forbes, "Nine Things Women Should Know About Estate Planning," 19 May 2011

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