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  • The Gill Group

Estate Planning Basics

Updated: Apr 30

Chris Byers, Esq.

“Over half of Americans don’t have an estate plan!”, says Chris Byers, Esq. of Byers & Byers, PA in Ridgewood. That’s over 130 million adults who have no idea what will happen to their assets when they pass away or who will be in control of making important decisions when they aren’t able. Scary right? It shouldn’t be, because basic estate planning is simple enough to complete and can deliver some good peace of mind.

As real estate professionals, we often see families scrambling to make sense of a loved one’s wishes for their assets, particularly their homes. To help, Mr. Byers has shared his expertise. Here are the important components of estate planning he says you should have covered.


Your Will

If there is no Will in place, the State has the deciding power over how assets are distributed, how dependents are taken care of, who will be the guardians of your children, and even the ownership of your pets. Not the best idea, so the importance of a Will can’t be understated. In your Will, you will name an Executor, someone you trust to follow the instructions in the Will and file tax returns on behalf of your estate. Details include:


Generally, assets are passed on to a spouse or to children, often in a trust. You can instruct in your Will whether assets, like a house, will be sold or kept. The Executor will pay all debts of the estate and then distribute assets according to the Will.


If you have young children, your Will should state who shall be named their guardian and who shall be in charge of their trust (a trustee).


Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney

Another segment of estate planning is a Power of Attorney. Someone named Power of Attorney has the ability to manage financial or legal matters if you are alive, but unable to manage your affairs for any reason. Power of Attorneys are able to sign contracts, pay bills, etc. on your behalf. This is so important because if you are ever deemed incompetent and there is no Power of Attorney in place, your loved ones will have to endure the long and difficult legal process of gaining guardianship.


Living Will/Healthcare Proxy

The creation of a Living Will allows you make your wishes clear in regards to life support and eliminates any confusion among your loved ones. A Healthcare Proxy is a chosen person to make healthcare decisions for you should you be unable. Your proxy is also privy to your medical records and can communicate directly with medical professional regarding your health.

Mr. Byers’ important note for parents of adult children:

“Make sure to establish Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy for your child once they turn 18, otherwise you will not be able to make healthcare or legal decisions on their behalf in an emergency.”


With this information, we hope to shed light on how to protect your assets and provide peace of mind not only for yourself, but for your loved ones as well. Should you have any real estate questions, reach out to our team at 201-888-2900. For estate planning expertise, be sure to call Chris Byers of Byers & Byers, PA at 201-447-0047.



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