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Do you need an estate plan?

If you have finally decided that it is time to think about your future, you may have more questions than answers. After all, you may not even know the options available or understand how the laws in New York protect you and your estate.

Your wishes to provide well for your loved ones at the end of your life may be difficult to carry out if you fail to use the appropriate tools for the job. For example, do you know what you should include in your will? Do you know if a will is even adequate for your circumstances?

Should I have more than a will?

Your will can do more than just assign your belongings to your heirs. Through your will, you can name a guardian for your minor children and designate an executor to handle the complicated process of probate after you pass away. However, a will may be adequate only if you have the simplest estate with minimal heirs. You may require a more complex estate plan if you have any of the following factors in your life:

  • You have children who are not old enough to manage an inheritance.
  • Your estate is large or complex, for example if you own a business or properties in multiple states.
  • Your beneficiaries will need to make your retirement account stretch for a number of years.
  • You have reason to protect the privacy of your heirs after your passing.
  • You want to provide an income to a charity of your preference.
  • You have stepchildren or children from a previous relationship for whom you wish to leave different inheritances.

You may also have dependents who cannot handle an inheritance, such as someone with an addiction or a child with special needs who depends on government benefits. By establishing a trust, you can safely provide for your special needs child without jeopardizing his or her benefits. A trust can also protect a loved one's inheritance if he or she suffers from an addiction, a gambling problem or other issues that may make it dangerous to obtain the full amount at once.

There may be other factors that make your situation unique, and you certainly want reliable information to help you make wise decisions. In order to find the answers to your questions, you would be wise to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney who will listen to your goals and offer quality guidance to help you meet those goals.

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