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Wills, trusts, powers of attorney essential parts of estate plans

Estate planning in New York involves determining what will happen to one's property in the event of one's death. The estate planning process also enables people to determine what will happen to them if they were to become incapacitated and be unable to make decisions for themselves any longer. When estate plans, which may include wills or trusts, along with other documents, are not in place, situations that are already difficult for loved ones may be even worse.

A will can be ideal for transferring assets upon one's death. However, even when a deceased person has left behind a will, the person's estate still has to go through probate, which is often an expensive and time-consuming legal process. This is why a living trust is often used. A trust offers a faster, more flexible and more confidential way to transfer property upon one's death.

Not every person needs a trust, and a trust's relevance really depends on what a person owns and how much his or her assets are worth. Still, if a person has a trust, he or she should have a will as well. It is also wise to have a power of attorney in place for the management of assets, as this document appoints a person to manage one's financial affairs in the event of incapacitation. Without a power of attorney, a court might have to appoint someone.

When engaging in estate planning in New York, it is also wise to make a detailed list of all of one's assets, including digital assets, which can be given to the individual with the power of attorney. Although the thought of creating wills, trusts and other estate planning documents can be overwhelming, it is wise to put together an estate plan before one is needed. Appropriate legal guidance may help people to navigate the process in a manner that is beneficial for them and their family members.

Source: nerdwallet.com, "10 Keys to Proper Estate Planning", Michael Chamberlain, March 11, 2016

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