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The main building blocks of a strong estate plan

Planning for the future can seem like an overwhelming task. It is difficult to think about the future and decide what will happen to personal assets and property after passing away. This is an emotional and complicated process, and an adult may put it off because he or she is intimidated and unsure of where to begin. Others may not think they need an estate plan because they are young, healthy or not exceptionally wealthy.

Making these plans is not something only reserved or necessary for the rich and famous. There are significant benefits for people of all ages and income levels to have an estate plan in place. While it is impossible to predict the future, it is possible to have a measure of control over things that could happen down the road. For those who do not have existing plans, there are four basic documents that will provide important protection for you and your loved ones.

Laying the foundation

Estate plans can be as complex or as simple as they need to be. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for estate planning, and you can custom tailor yours to suit your unique needs and objectives. The four documents you may need to consider as part of your plan include:

  • A will is the foundation of any good estate plan. It allows a person to decide what will happen to his or her assets after passing, and it can also appoint a guardian for any minor children.
  • A durable power of attorney appoints someone to make important financial decisions on behalf of someone who may be incapacitated due to injury or illness.
  • A trust allows someone to set aside and protect assets for a specific use, such as charitable giving, the care of a special needs loved one and more. Assets left in a trust do not have to go through probate.
  • An advanced medical directive allows someone to outline the type of medical care he or she may want in case of an emergency. There are different types, such as a living will, which explains any lifesaving measures a person wishes to undergo.

With these four building blocks, you can craft a plan that gives you a sense of security and stability for the future. What you need for protection depends on your needs, goals and objectives for your beneficiaries. Whether you are creating an estate plan from the very first steps or you need to update and change plans, you may find it helpful to discuss your needs with an experienced New York attorney.

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