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Creating an estate plan

New York residents who do not have an estate plan may want to create one because it can take some of the burden off their loved ones. One of the main elements of an estate plan is a will. With a will, testators can name who they want their assets distributed to as well as a guardian for their minor children. A trust is another tool that can be used to distribute assets.

Business owners may want to create succession plans. Beneficiary designations are used for life insurance policies and bank and brokerage accounts. These and other documents should be put away somewhere secure, and the executor of the estate should be told where they are.

People may also want to leave instructions regarding any social media accounts. They may want to plan their funeral and create a document that outlines their wishes for end-of-life care. A health care proxy selects someone to make medical decisions if the principal is unable to do so. The estate plan should be updated following any major life changes or changes within the family.

The person who is creating the estate plan may want to discuss it with both an attorney and with family members. An attorney may be able to offer suggestions about the tools that would be most helpful for a person's estate plan depending on their needs. An attorney may also be able to caution a person about potential pitfalls. For example, a person might not realize that a beneficiary designation overrides a will. This means that if a person gets a divorce and forgets to update the beneficiary designation for a retirement account, theex-spouse might receive that asset rather than current family members.

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