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Trusts and other considerations for estate planning

New York residents who are preparing an estate plan may wonder what the best options are. Those who already have an estate plan might need to update it.

Some individuals may want to design an estate plan that avoids a potentially slow and expensive probate process. While some assets can be transferred through beneficiary designations, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, people may choose to set up a trust for other types of assets. A revocable grantor trust is one popular choice because it allows the owner to control it and make changes while still alive.

One significant change in tax laws is that if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse can add the unused portion of the decedent spouse's federal estate tax exemption to their own, current standing at $5.43 million per person. In the past, this was not the case, but since this portability feature was enacted, some couples are choosing to fund one trust rather than dividing their assets between two separate ones.

However, there might be drawbacks to doing this. People may also want to review whether their documents are still up to date. In some cases, the language required for certain provisions may have changed

.Estate plans should be reviewed periodically for reasons besides tax laws. Families change as well, and an estate plan that is several years old may not reflect the current family situation with regards to births, deaths, marriages and divorces. Furthermore, people who have put together documents such as a living will or a power of attorney may have changed their feelings about end-of-life care or who they wish to oversee their finances. People may wish to view estate planning as an ongoing concern and conversation with loved ones rather than a fixed set of documents to ensure that they remain as up to date as possible.

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