The foundation of every estate plan consists of the following three



1.   Last Will and Testament:     This document sets forth how you

 want your estate distributed upon your death.  You must also decide

 who shall serve as executor, trustee and/or guardian of your minor



2.   Durable Power of Attorney:     This document enables another

 person, whom you have designated as your Agent, to make a variety of

 financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event you have a

 mental or physical disability.   


3.   Advanced Health Care Directive (Living Will Declaration):     This

 document enables you to decide that you do not want to be kept

 alive by artificial means in the event you have an irreversible,

 terminal illness. 


Situations I have Encountered:

A.   If you die without a Will (called "intestate"), your estate is

 divided according to New Jersey's intestate laws.  The intestacy laws

 can be found at the web site of any County Surrogate.  The Surrogate

 will determine whether an administrator must be appointed, which

 ordinarily depends on the size of the estate.  Before the Surrogate

 may appoint an administrator, all next of kin must renounce their

 rights to be an administrator and a surety bond must be posted.  In

 situations where there is no immediate family, your property may go

 to distant relatives or ultimately revert to the State.  The point to

 keep in mind is the last thing family members need when a loved one

 passes away and while they are grieving is more stress because you did

 not have a Will.  Executing a Will doesn't take long, do it today!   


B.  Here are two reasons why a Power of Attorney is important: 

 Many people believe that a spouse can do anything for his or her

 own spouse because they are married.  Well, the HIPAA laws

 (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)

 changed all that.  Privacy laws prevent anyone from learning about

 your medical condition or effecting your health insurance

 policies.  Another reason is that the IRS has stated that in order  to

 make a  gift while you are incapacitated, your Power of  Attorney must

 explicitly provide for that ability.  Gifting is a very easy way to minimize

 estate taxes, which you do not want to lose simply because you are disabled.

 If you become  incapacitated for any reason, it will be too late to execute a

 Power  of Attorney.  Do it today!



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