Frequently we are asked whether estate planning is necessary for those who don’t really have an “estate.” We often get asked by clients why estate planning is necessary for them, if they don’t have too much in assets. However, the answer to such questions is this: if you have something that is of value to you, that you want to pass down to your loved ones in a way that involves the least amount of burden, then you ought to have an estate plan. At the most basic level, an estate plan consists of a Will or Revocable Living Trust along with both Financial and Health Care Powers of Attorney.
It’s important to note that in New Jersey, the Health Care Power of Attorney is typically an advanced directive which includes not only the naming of a health care representative to make health care decisions in times of incapacity, but also a Living Will which states one’s preference as to whether or not artificial life support should be continued if faced with a health care condition where life is either interminable or the condition makes it unbearable to live life in a meaningful way.
On a more advanced level, estate planning can involve sophisticated planning techniques to effectively reduce the estate tax burden upon death or provide creditor protection and privacy to families and their assets if that is an important objective.