For Peace of Mind, Make Sure Your New Jersey Estate Plan Stays Current

Expect the best, but plan for the worst. This familiar phrase applies in many contexts, including your estate plan. When the time comes to execute that plan, you won't be around to offer explanations. Your documents will speak for you.

With that said, common errors in your estate plan may invalidate your best intentions and cause needless pain and hardship for those you're trying to protect. Talk with a New Jersey probate law attorney to discuss how to best meet your specific goals and build your personal legacy.

There are several common mistakes that may be lurking in your plan documents.

Your IRA or 401(K) Lists the Wrong Beneficiary

This common oversight spells trouble, particularly because these assets sidestep the probate process and go straight to the named beneficiary, even if that person is now an estranged sibling, an ex-spouse, or an incapacitated elderly parent on Medicaid.

One problem is that beneficiary information is often long-buried with your original account paperwork, so it's easy to forget. Because life constantly changes, investment account beneficiary documentation needs to be updated when those changes occur. Make sure you have the right names attached to these valuable documents.

Your Durable Power Of Attorney is Invalid

A durable power of attorney allows your family or chosen representative to manage your finances on your behalf, if you become incapacitated. If you think you're covered, don't be so sure. Perhaps it has expired, making it invalid. Without new, notarized paperwork, it may be difficult to access funds to pay for your care, sell your property or get the information needed to pay outstanding debts. In fact, without a durable power of attorney, your financial institutions could refuse to cooperate with those struggling to keep you solvent. Review your durable power of attorney and make sure it's viable.

Probate Laws Vary State by State

New Jersey is one of 18 states that adhere to the Uniform Probate Code. Contact an experienced New Jersey estate attorney to discuss your situation and create an estate plan that protects your loved ones.