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Estate Planning Checklist:
What to Consider Before You Start 

Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C. Aug. 19, 2022

House model on wood table. The saying is true: it’s never too early to start thinking about your estate plan, but it can be too late. Life can be fragile, and the worst might happen unexpectedly. Without an estate plan, you will have little to no control over what happens to you and your property if you were to become incapacitated or if you were to pass away.  

By establishing your estate plan now, you can determine your legacy rather than leaving it up to the state. At my firm, Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C., I can help you build a comprehensive and legally-enforceable estate plan to protect your wishes. I’m dedicated to providing personal service and answering all of your questions with honesty. My firm, Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C., proudly represents clients in Woodbridge, New Jersey, Sayreville, Perth Amboy, and Edison. 

What Is Estate Planning? 

Estate planning involves the establishment of legal documents to answer key questions about how your assets will be distributed, how any minor children will be cared for, and how other decisions will be made on your behalf should you become incapacitated or pass away. 

So, what is involved in drafting an estate plan? You may need to use several different legal tools, depending on the size of your estate. You may need to use a living trust, a will, an advance health care directive, or a combination of the three. Take a look at what to consider before you start your estate plan. 

What Questions Should I Ask Before Drafting My Estate Plan? 

You will need to ask and answer several questions about your wishes. It takes time and thought to answer these serious questions. 

What Are the Goals That I Want to Achieve With My Estate? 

You have many options as to how your estate will be divided after your passing. Do you want to leave it to one family member or split it between several? Will you be making provisions for charity? Consider what your goals are for your legacy. 

What Are My Assets? 

As you establish your estate plan, you will need to know exactly what you own that you can distribute to your beneficiaries. Make a list of your assets, and work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to ensure your list is complete. 

What Are My Debts? 

At the same time, you will also need to know specifically how much your debts are. Your estate will be responsible for paying your debts after you pass away. Therefore, depending on the number of your debts, you may have fewer assets than you thought. Or, if you don’t have any debts, you will be able to build your estate plan using your original list of assets. 

Who Should Inherit From My Estate? 

Next, you should take the time to think about who you would like to inherit assets from your estate. You can give your assets to anyone you choose if you have a legally-enforceable will or trust.  

Consider your relatives and friends as you make this decision. Of all the decisions to make when creating an estate plan, these may be some of the hardest. You may want to discuss your options with your estate planning attorney. 

Who Should Be in Charge of Legal and Financial Decisions? 

When you are thinking about what to know before you start your estate plan, think about the people in your life. It is vital that you choose a reliable and trustworthy person to be the executor of your estate. This person will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are respected when it comes to financial and legal decisions. 

Who Will Take Care of My Loved Ones? 

It is extremely challenging to think about losing your life while you have minor children to care for. It’s also challenging to think about the state deciding who will care for your minor children if you are not able to.  

Think about who you would like to be the legal guardian of your minor children in this situation. This also applies to children or family members with special needs for whom you are responsible. Lastly, you can make provisions for the care of your pets in your estate plan. 

Who Should Make Healthcare Decisions on My Behalf? 

As you establish your estate plan, you should consider who will make medical decisions on your behalf. While it is difficult to think about, medical emergencies do happen, and one could leave you unable to communicate for yourself. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you make this crucial decision. 

Do I Want to Make Any Donations to Charities? 

Leaving a legacy behind often involves donating to the causes you believe in or the charities you support. Consider what those are as you draft your estate plan. 

Will I Need a Business Succession Plan? 

If you are a business owner, you will have many decisions to make regarding the future of your business. Who would you like to take over your role? What will happen to the business? Discuss your options with an experienced estate planning attorney. 

What Is My Preference for My Funeral and Remains? 

You should also consider what type of funeral you would like. It is also essential to make provisions for the disposition of your remains. 

Legal Guidance You Can Trust 

You must make many decisions when you establish your estate plan. But you don’t have to complete this difficult task on your own. I am dedicated to guiding you through the process of establishing a legally-enforceable will that represents your wishes. I serve clients in Woodbridge, New Jersey, Sayreville, Perth Amboy, Edison, and the rest of New Jersey. Contact Adams, Cassese & Papp L.L.C. today to request a free consultation. 

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