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Key issues when making an estate plan

When New York residents think about estate planning, they may want to consider the future of their assets for generations to come. Proper estate planning can ensure that wealth passes on over generations in a way that reflects the testator's wishes for the future. In addition, many people want to make sure that the vast majority of their assets reach their beneficiaries rather than being lost to taxes and fees. There are some major issues that estate owners may consider during the planning process to help them achieve their goals.

The 2017 changes to estate tax law raised the individual exemption from estate taxes to $11.4 million, leading many to decide that they no longer needed to make tax planning a priority for their estates. However, this raised exemption will sunset in 2025 without further action by Congress, so many people planning far into the future may wish to give more attention to tax issues. Also, when estate owners pass on their retirement funds, their beneficiaries may see double taxation. Therefore, they may want to think about trusts and other structures that could help to mitigate those costs.

Trusts are an important part of an estate plan for many reasons. They allow greater privacy and control over the distribution of assets and can be important to preserving generational wealth. However, estate owners must also be careful to fund their trusts once created. This also means making sure that life insurance policies and other assets have the correct trusts listed as their beneficiaries.

There are several complex issues to consider when planning for one's financial future. However, an estate planning attorney can help a client develop a comprehensive plan and work to draft key documents such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney.

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