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The necessary elements of an estate plan

Getting an estate plan together may be a New Year's resolution for some people in New York. To start, an estate planner will need a last will and testament. This directs assets to beneficiaries. Before creating a will, however, one should review their assets and address any issues related to property ownership or other unfinished business.

An estate planner should also consider setting up a power of attorney. This person would step in and manage their financial matters if they are unable to do so. A health care proxy allows someone else to make health care decisions if a person cannot. It is important to discuss wishes for medical care, including end-of-life care, with the person who has this responsibility.

An agent can help an estate planner choose the right life insurance policy based on their budget and family situation. This policy can be important in supporting a family. Long-term care and disability insurance can be helpful if a person is permanently disabled or needs round-the-clock care. People may also want to consider burial instructions. Reviewing beneficiary designations, consulting a financial advisor and ensuring that parents also have an effective estate plan in place can also be helpful.

An attorney might be able to help a client create an estate plan. Legal counsel could explain the advantages and disadvantages of wills and trusts and help a person decide which might be best. While a will may be sufficient for a fairly simple estate, someone who has a blended family, is concerned about taxes or wants some control over how distributions are made to beneficiaries might prefer a trust. A trust is also more private and does not have to go through probate.

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