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Estate planning involves more than wills and trusts

Not everyone in New York understands the importance of estate planning. It involves more than just wills and trusts, and many people are misled by the myths that exist about this process, the first of which is that only those who are wealthy need to concern themselves with this process. Anyone with investments, a bank account, a car, a home or other assets can protect their own interests and the interests of loved ones by proper estate planning.

The second myth about estate planning is that it is all about distributing assets after the death of the testator. The truth is that estate planning involves both legacy planning and incapacity planning, which can ensure proper care and management of the individual's financial affairs in the event of a debilitating accident or illness. It can also serve to name a guardian to care for minor children in the event of the parents' deaths, and it can include gifting strategies and charitable goals.

Some believe that they need no more than drafting a will and naming an executor, without realizing that assets like qualified retirement accounts and insurance policies are dealt with separately. For that reason, beneficiary designations on these assets must be reviewed annually to ensure that they remain current. Life events such as divorces, marriages, births and deaths can necessitate modifications of beneficiaries.

The prospect of establishing wills, trusts and other aspects of legacy and incapacity planning might be daunting, but help is available. An experienced New York estate planning attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance. The same lawyer can help with the annual reviews and ensure that loved ones will have access to the original legal documents, online passwords and other relevant information.

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