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Wills, trusts, powers of attorney important in estate plan

People in New York often shy away from engaging in estate planning for a couple of reasons, with one being that they do not want to talk about death. The other reason is that they simply do not know where to start in the process. A few tips may help people to create wills and other important estate planning documents that will protect their and their loved ones' best interests.

While some individuals decide to create wills, others choose to set up trusts, with a trust considered the cornerstone of a lot of estate plans. Both can help people to get their assets to their intended beneficiaries. The main difference between the two is that a will has to go through the probate process in court. Meanwhile, with a trust, one's heirs can avoid probate, as assets are simply funded into this trust.

It is also essential to develop a couple of powers of attorney: one for medical care and one dealing with finances. These documents are essential if a person becomes incapacitated. It is also important to create a living will in order to leave instructions for medical providers in situations when the individual is no longer able communicate that information, particularly with regard to the use or non-use of life support equipment.

It is additionally wise to ensure that all of one's major assets -- including life insurance, bank accounts, investment accounts and home -- are coordinated within the trust so that probate is avoided. Reviewing an estate plan is also important to do every few years since both laws and personal circumstances constantly change. Appropriate legal guidance in New York can help people to confidently develop trusts, wills and other documents to ensure that their wishes are met when they fall ill or die down the road.

Source: thespectrum.com, "5 basic tips found in the estate planner's Christmas song", Jeff McKenna, Dec. 20, 2015

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