There are some things that you can do for yourself with some information that you obtain online, but estate planning is not one of them. Even if you consider yourself to be a business savvy individual there are nuances involved in inheritance planning that should only be entrusted to a licensed professional. Legacy planning involves the transfer of the sum total of your life’s work, and this is heady stuff indeed. It is not a matter to be trifled with and it is not the realm of the DIY hobbyist.
The above may seem like an instance in overstating the obvious. However, there are entities out there that would like you to believe that you can plan your own estate by simply obtaining a do-it-yourself kit of one kind or another. The truth is that the laws of the state of New Jersey are not identical to the statutes in other states, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that is appropriate for every jurisdiction.
In fact, New Jersey has a state inheritance tax and a state estate tax, and you may be exempt from the federal estate tax but exposed to death levies on the state level. No generic document is going to account for this.
Estate planning is not just about spending a couple of hours creating a single document. It is a holistic endeavor that can entail a long-term plan that addresses your retirement needs, incapacity planning, and things like charitable giving and providing access to resources over the lifetime of your heirs.
And of course as your life changes, you may need to make updates to your estate plan because time doesn’t stand still and things don’t happen in a vacuum. The only intelligent way to keep yourself prepared for the future at all times is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney and recognize the fact that an ongoing relationship will be necessary so that adjustments can be made as they become appropriate.
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