What You Need to Know about Wills

Do I Need a Will?
There’s only one class of people who needs to prepare a will. The answer to this question is not determined by how much you have in the bank or who your relatives are or the value of your impressive baseball card collection. The only people who need a will are those who wish to determine, for themselves, who should receive their assets at death. Without a will, a person’s property passes to those relatives that the state government has determined should receive anything from the deceased.

Do I need any other documents?
It is also recommended that you have a Durable Power of Attorney, which designates individuals (called “agents”) who will handle your financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated. Also, everyone should have a Health Care Power of Attorney, which designates agents to make medical decisions for you, if you are unable to do so yourself because of a mental or physical illness or disability.

I have a will. How often should it be updated?
There’s no hard and fast rule for this question. It is recommended that you review your will and Powers of Attorney every three years, or earlier if some life event has occurred, such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of children, or death of a beneficiary or a fiduciary (your executor, trustee, or guardian).

How can I obtain more information about wills?
Readers can contact Jim Spencer, TCNJ’s director of planned giving, by phone (609.771.3285) or e-mail (jspencer@tcnj.edu). Or, visit the College’s Planned Giving Web site:  www.tcnj.edu/~alumni/plannedgiving.

By Rosemary Durkin, Shareholder in Stark & Stark, head of Estate & Trust Division. Allen Silk, Shareholder in Stark & Stark, head of business law division, is treasurer of TCNJ Foundation.

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