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Wills have essential powers and are not all the same

Sometimes people in New York believe that simply having a will is enough for them to complete their estate plans. Wills certainly do have essential powers in the event of death. However, powers of attorney are also essential pieces of an estate plan.

A will provides no planning in the event one becomes incapacitated during life. This is why a power of attorney is so valuable; it allows people to name other individuals to make monetary and health care-related decisions if they become incapacitated. Without a power of attorney, family members are forced to navigate a guardianship proceeding, which requires both money and time.

Regarding wills, a will is typically used to transfer real estate along with any items people have accumulated over their lifetimes. Wills may also be used to create a testamentary trust for a specific purpose, a process for which proper legal guidance may be helpful. Assets with beneficiaries listed or those that are set up as being payable upon death do not fall under the control of a will. These assets include bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement accounts.

Many individuals in the state of New York naturally assume that all wills are similar. In reality, wills drafted for older individuals, younger individuals and middle-aged individuals may be completely different since family circumstances and goals morph throughout people's lifetimes. Proper legal guidance may help people to effectively draft wills that will reflect their wishes and their loved one's needs down the road in the event of death.

Source: greenbaypressgazette.com, "Estate planning: It's more than just a will", Michael Maas, Feb. 22, 2016

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