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Approaching estate planning the right way

As is the custom each New Year's Day, individuals around New York will take some time to reflect upon the resolutions they have made for 2018. Estate planning happens to be one of those life situations that are seldom considered as New Year's resolutions, and this can often result in costly mistakes that can be avoided with adequate legal strategies.

The right way to start working on an estate plan is to do it early and with proper legal counsel. Depending on the individual financial situation, drafting an estate plan may involve the creation of a trust as well as a living will with health proxy provisions. The wrong approach to estate planning is to keep leaving it for another day. Procrastination brings consequences that tend to be unpleasant.

One major purpose of drafting estate planning documents in New York is to avoid Surrogate's Court, which is the legal venue where poorly drafted wills often end up being litigated by bickering relatives, frivolous plaintiffs, creditors and other parties that may seek tap into the estate. Surrogate's Court is also a gathering point for gossip and tabloid journalists. Bitterly contested wills of high-profile families are often reported in Page Six of the New York Post.

Estate planning also prevents the mistake of allowing intestacy laws to determine the distribution of one's assets upon his or her death. This situation cannot be recommended to individuals who are interested in preserving wealth by keeping in the family. The loss of a loved one is always difficult, but proper estate planning as a New Year's resolution can help to avoid Surrogate's Court, reduce tax implications and alleviate the financial concerns of survivors.

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