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Don't forget to update wills and trusts after a divorce

Ending a marriage is never an easy process, even if the divorce is amicable. It is not uncommon for people in New York and elsewhere to be so overwhelmed by property division, child custody and other issues that they push updating their wills and trusts to the back burner or forget about it altogether. There are essential estate planning matters to attend to at this challenging time.

Wills or trusts -- which is best?

In many cases, the first stumbling block for people in New York who want to get their estate planning done is understanding the different options. Some think they have to choose between trusts and wills, not realizing that they can have both. Many people choose to incorporate trusts along with their wills because it could ensure the proper execution of their orders.

Contesting a will could be challenging for those who were left ou

Losing a loved one is naturally a traumatic experience. When a person discovers that he or she was left out of the will, the trauma is often magnified. However, challenging a will is a complicated process and best handled with legal guidance. Under New York laws, a testator has the final say over whom to name as beneficiaries in a will.

Well-drafted wills can protect children with disabilities

When most New York parents deal with estate planning, they make sure their minor children will be protected and cared for if they should die or become incapacitated. This concern is heightened for parents of children with disabilities. For them, their wills might need to include plans for lifelong care of their children -- but where should they start?

Wills: Testamentary capacity compromised after dementia diagnosis

For estate planning documents to be valid in New York and elsewhere, the testator must have had testamentary capacity when the papers were signed. In cases in which wills were signed or modified after dementia diagnosis, challenges might be filed. One man had several questions after his three siblings pressured their father into changing his will.

Contested wills often follow allegations of undue influence

New York laws allow people to create and maintain estate plans to choose to whom assets will be left upon their deaths. These plans typically include wills and trusts, and inter vivo transfers could also form part of estate planning. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous opportunists find ways to misuse others and take advantage of them. Typical targets are older people who own substantial assets and who are vulnerable because of illness, memory problems and isolation from family members.

Wills: Appointing an executor deserves careful consideration

Estate planning is a crucial yet challenging task. Advisors in New York discourage people from leaving the drafting of wills and establishing trusts until they have reached middle age. Although many see it as a daunting task, debilitating or even fatal injuries can occur at any age, and being prepared is crucial. One of the tasks that needs careful consideration involves appointing an executor for the estate.

Establishing a will can provide peace of mind

Some New York residents might prefer to avoid thinking about death and what would happen to their assets if they should die. However, taking the time to establish a will can provide peace of mind because the individual will know that his or her assets will be distributed according to the directions set forth in the will. Other documents that usually form part of estate planning include health care and financial powers of attorney, and it could also include trusts of different kinds.

Do you avoid thoughts and conversations about death and wills?

Having conversations with adult children about financial and other family matters is as important as having those "birds and bees" talks with young children or adolescents. Avoiding it is much easier, and authorities in the estate-planning field say a significant percentage of people nationwide, including New York, neglect to draft wills. Many of them only have these talks after medical emergencies -- but that might be too late.

Will Aretha Franklin's 3 handwritten wills resolve questions?

When a celebrity dies, New Yorkers are often curious to know whether the deceased person's estate planning was up to date, what is the size of the estate and who will inherit what. With the passing of Aretha Franklin last August, it was at first reported that she died without a will. However, it has since been noted that three separate wills, with different dates, were discovered among the belongings of the "Queen of Soul." Now, the question is, which of those wills, if any, will be deemed valid under the laws of the state in which she resided.

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