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The basics of estate planning: what does it all mean?

What is estate planning, why do people need it, and what does it consist of? Those are many questions people ask when they are considering planning for their family. Most people have heard of wills, but don't fully understand what it covers and what other estate planning documents they might need to ensure the smoothest transfer of assets to their loved ones. It is important to ask questions throughout the estate planning process to fully understand what each document does and why it is important.

Wills are important in establishing who gets what after a person's death, but they cannot control how they are distributed. Meaning, a will can't dictate that a person is to receive assets at a certain age or point in their life. This might be a great idea if parents are worried about their children spending all the money at once. A trust can help control how money is distributed.

Trusts can also help people avoid probate. While probate might seem routine, it can get costly for the estate and might delay transfer of assets. Wills go through probate, but trusts allow transfer of assets directly to a beneficiary. Properties that will be included in a trust must have the properties titled in the name of the trust. This might sound confusing to many people. An experienced estate planning attorney can help a person understand the estate planning process, and make sure all of their wishes will be accomplished.

Even though the estate planning process might not be clear to everyone, it is important that people establish a plan that can help them execute their wishes for their loved ones. An estate planning attorney can help set up the proper documents and advise people on their estate planning strategy.

Source: Southeast Missourian, "9 smart questions estate planners wish you would ask," Taniesha Robinson, March 4, 2013

-Our law firm handles estate planning needs for people in New Jersey. Please visit our website to learn more.

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