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Drafting wills is best not regarded as DIY projects

Estate planning can be complicated, and a process that is best done with the support and guidance of legal counsel. To underscore the fact that wills are not to be regarded as DIY projects, New York residents can look at a case in another state in which a woman had only a handwritten will when she died. The document stated that 65% of her estate must go to her life partner and the balance to an aunt.

Wills, estate planning and new parents

With a newborn child in the house, changes to familiar dynamic are inevitable. While new parents adjust to those changes, they might neglect to consider the changes this new member of the family brings to their legacy planning. Life is unpredictable, and lives can be lost in split seconds. New York parents might be wise to modify existing documents such as wills and beneficiaries and appoint guardians as soon as possible after such an event.

Legal guardians for minors can be named in wills

When parents of minors in New York establish estate plans, they would likely need advice about appropriate ways to provide for their children in the event of both parents' deaths. This is typically done by naming guardians or conservators in their wills. If a child inherits real estate, he or she will not be able to take legal ownership of it, and a legal guardian can be named in the will, or appointed by the court.

Wills and trusts need to keep up with technological advances

Many people in New York and across the country are moving most of their assets into digital storage. Business interests, financial assets, marketing materials and even photo albums are transferred online. This creates new challenges to ensure digitized assets, which could also include cryptocurrency, are included in wills, trusts and other estate planning documents.

Agricultural legacy planning requires much more than wills

Farmers in the Binghamton, New York, area may be considering the many years of hard work they put in and how they would deal with passing their legacies on to their successors. Transferring ownership, sharing management and control, and dividing assets require more than drafting wills and sitting back. The dynamics of each family who is involved in an agricultural business are unique, and looking at succession goals without emotion might be challenging.

Even if they appear legal, wills might be unenforceable

Many New York residents have carefully planned estate plans that might not be as legal as they appear. The language used in wills might render them legally unenforceable. Advisers say there are specific practicalities and rules to follow to avoid carefully crafted documents declared invalid, and those rules mainly cover things not to include in wills.

Even some celebrities neglect to prepare wills or trusts

A survey by a senior care resources company recently indicated that more than half of the adults nationwide, including in New York, have not done estate planning. This means that many people die without wills, one of which was the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Despite knowing that she had a severe illness, she failed to make sure that her affairs were in order before her death. For many people, acknowledging their mortality is too emotional.

Wills: How to avoid heirs challenging your last wishes

When it comes to the last wishes of New York residents, those wishes might not always be honored, or they may be challenged. Advisers suggest people take steps to draft bulletproof wills. They say because people live longer and second or third marriages are prevalent, many branches get added to the family tree -- some of which might expect to feature in a will. There might even be some of those who are prepared to fight for a piece of the estate.

Succession planning might be as important as drafting wills

According to statistics, 80 to 90 percent of businesses nationwide, including in New York, are owned by families. However, a significant percentage of those businesses are lost before making it to the third generation. This is said to happen because succession planning is often neglected when drafting wills and other estate planning documents.

What are the reasons for drafting wills?

Regardless of the size of their estates, New Yorkers of just about any age are encouraged to do estate planning. For various reasons, financial advisers suggest that individuals should start with establishing wills and consider additional options that can reduce probate fees. Depending on the value of the assets, state and federal estate taxes might apply, along with probate fees.

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