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Proper planning and tools can reduce estate litigations

No one relishes the idea of contemplating one's own demise. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding this eventuality, and heirs may have one less worry with careful planning that can reduce the risk of estate litigation. New York has laws that apply to estate planning that can aid one in creating plans that will best fit each unique family's needs.

One of the first steps to take in determining which plans will work for a particular situation is to actually take the time to draft them. Not having a will or trusts in place will mean that the state will make these decisions, which may not reflect one's wishes. Along with making these plans, it is important to ensure that all assets are listed correctly and that selected beneficiaries are kept current. If life insurance or retirement accounts are a part of the estate, the individuals named on these accounts supersede any listed on other documents.

Another step in making these plans is ensuring that they are kept up-to-date in the event that there are substantial changes in one's life circumstances. If a trust is a tool that best meets an estate's needs, then it is vital to ensure that the trust is funded appropriately. Not having the assets in place would make plans invalid regardless of one's intentions. It may also be helpful to set limits on how disbursements from a trust will be made, in an effort to ensure that the needs of heirs are met in the manner desired.

Another tip that may be useful is making sure that treasured possessions are included in plans in some manner. In addition, since so many activities are performed online, having a master list with important passwords and a list of all online accounts included may allow loved ones to access these accounts and close them out when appropriate. Lastly, one should ensure that at least one trusted individual is aware of the location of all pertinent estate planning documents. New York residents who are unsure of how to complete these plans in order to lessen the possibility of estate litigation may seek the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

Source: wmur.com, "Money Matters: Estate planning mistakes", Marc Hebert, Dec. 28, 2017

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