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Uncomplicating your estate plan

While many New Yorkers understand the importance of having an estate plan in place long before it is needed, the process can be intimidating. This often encourages people to delay until a major event such as a health condition or serious injury causes them to become focused on the future. Trying to work out an effective estate plan at the wrong time can make things overly complicated, and this may cause problems down the road.

While all estate plans need to be thorough and protect all the assets of an estate without leaving any holes, an overly complicated estate plan can create more headaches than necessary. This can be especially true if trusts are used extensively or without a good deal of thought about all future possibilities. For example, many people get stuck moving into expensive long-term care before the end. Their estate plan may actually complicate the finances of that situation if it isn't set up correctly. An irrevocable trust may seem fine at first, but its lack of flexibility can be troublesome if expenses accrue before death.

One important goal of most estate plans is to clearly define inheritance so there is little to no competition or disagreement among heirs. Overly complicated trusts may cause more problems among heirs than they fix. Attempts to make everyone happy all at once can tie heirs together in ways they'd rather not be.

Starting the estate planning process earlier can help avoid many of the problems associated with rushing this important process. Even if a person has already created an estate plan, it may be helpful to revisit the plan with an attorney and make sure that everything is still set up for the best possible outcomes.

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