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Components of an estate plan

Many New York residents understand the importance of having a will. A will allows individuals to dictate how their estate will be distributed after death, and documents the testator's wishes regarding burial plans, care of minor children and other end-of-life issues. Unfortunately, some individuals think that a will is the only type of estate planning they need to worry about. This is often not the case.

Many legal observers point out that people live much longer than they used to. This doesn't mean, however, that these individuals are necessarily healthy into their old age. Medical advances keep people alive decades longer, but chronic diseases can severely impact quality of life. This means that estate planning should also include a strong retirement plan that ensures that people have enough funds to live on in their declining years.

In addition, individuals should specify how they wish to be cared for in their old age. This may require indicating a preference regarding nursing home care versus remaining in the family home.

Another consideration in estate planning includes family dynamics that are not easily addressed in "boilerplate" wills. For example, family members who suffer from mental illness, drug addiction or who are developmentally disabled may not be able to manage an estate. A good plan might include setting up a trust for those beneficiaries with a trustee who can responsibly manage funds that can provide for these loved ones over a long period of time.

Individuals who are interested in learning more about these and other types of estate planning documents may benefit from speaking with an experienced attorney. Another vehicle that many attorneys recommend is a power of attorney that will give a trusted person the ability to make financial or health care decisions if the principal becomes incapacitated and is unable to do so.

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