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Don't wait until it is too late to make that will

Making a will may be something that sits at the back-burner of many individuals' minds. They may know it should be done, but for one reason or another they never get around to it. In fact, data shows that over 50 percent of Americans will pass away without having ever creating a will. This means that these individuals will die intestate, meaning that the court will be in charge of making the determination of who will inherit the deceased person's assets and, if there are minor children, who their guardian will be. As you can see, wills are important for New Jersey residents, no matter what their age or the amount of wealth they have.

In a will, individuals can choose which relatives, friends or even charities they want to inherit their assets. And, if the individual has minor children, a will can designate a guardian for those children, which can be very important should both parents pass away before the children have grown up.

In addition to wills, individuals should make sure they have the desired beneficiaries on certain accounts. For example, life insurance policies and certain types of retirement accounts allow the account holder to designate a beneficiary. That being said, it is important to review these beneficiaries from time to time. For example, New Jersey residents who were once married and later divorced probably would not want an ex-spouse to still be listed as the beneficiary to these accounts. Even checking and savings accounts can designate a beneficiary through the use of a payable-on-death form. Like a will, if there is no beneficiary assigned to such accounts or the beneficiary is also dead, the assets in these accounts will be sent to probate.

As our readers can probably tell, estate planning is not something that should be put off. There are a variety of good reasons to have a will or other estate planning documents drafted.

Source: CNBC, "No will or estate plan? Big problem for you and your heirs," Sarah O'Brien, Aug. 9, 2016

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