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Wills and trusts can show you care for those you leave behind

While some New York residents choose to show their love on Valentine's Day with roses and chocolates, estate planning advisers suggest different ways to express their care for those who will be left behind after their deaths. Establishing wills and trusts, if done with care, can save loved ones having to figure out what the deceased person's wishes were. Death can occur at any time, as underscored by the recent death of Kobe Bryant, and it is never too early to attend to estate planning.

Regardless of the size of a person's estate, a will can formalize his or her wishes. Along with a will, a living trust can be established to avoid the government taking a significant chunk of the estate through probate. Advisers note that death is not the only matter to consider. An accident or illness could cause incapacitation, and designating powers of attorney before that happens is crucial.

Basic estate planning includes a will, a living trust along with health care and financial powers of attorney. A financial power of attorney designates an individual to act on behalf of the person granting the power and make decisions if he or she can no longer do so. A health care power of attorney authorizes the designated person to make medical decisions if the person granting the power becomes incapable of expressing medical care wishes.

Many people in New York put this important step on the back burner, intending to draft wills and establish trusts when they are older. However, since none of know when our time may be up, the sensible thing would be to consult with an estate planning attorney. Although the process may seem a bit overwhelming, the advice and guidance of legal counsel can be invaluable.

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