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Wills, trusts can help to protect assets and benefit heirs

People in New York typically are not excited about the idea of planning for their passing, known as estate planning. However, creating wills is important for people in New York, as a will can reduce the hassles and expenses often associated with the process of transferring wealth when a person dies. Nonetheless, research shows that only about 50 percent of people in the United States actually have a will or living trust.

Some people who are in the middle class or upper middle class may not think that estate planning is really necessary for them. After all, they do not have millions of dollars in assets nor do they have huge households. However, the financial system today is complex even for people with modest assets.

It is recommended to have not only a will but also a revocable living trust. Both of these documents allow people to name their beneficiaries as well as leave property to particular minors. Individuals can easily make revisions to these documents as their priorities or circumstances change over time.

Trusts are a particularly valuable part of estate planning because they help people to avoid probate and also allow them to plan for mental disability and incapacitation. However, wills help to address issues that cannot be addressed with trusts in New York, including naming the guardians for one's children, leaving instructions related to paying debts and taxes, and assigning a property manager to a minor. Proper legal guidance may help people engage in thorough estate planning, which could help to reduce family conflict and maximize the assets that a person's heirs get in the event of his or her death.

Source: thinkadvisor.com, "Estate Planning an Essential Step for Every Retiree", May 11, 2015

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