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Key Points to Consider that May Help Reduce Estate Litigation

Sept. 27, 2017

Even though it may be an unpleasant task, contemplating one’s demise is a human tendency. However, making plans for what happens to one’s estate after he or she is gone could ease some anxieties while also possibly forestalling estate litigation by disgruntled family members or other interested parties. New York residents may benefit from reviewing their current plans or taking steps to ensure their wishes are met if they have not done so already.

There are certain steps that would be beneficial when deciding to draft one’s final plans. The first consideration is to carefully review the demographics of one’s family. One may wonder if there certain loved ones who deserve to benefit more from an inheritance or if a family member needs to be removed from consideration. Determining how assets will be disbursed and by what means are other points to incorporate into these plans. Secondly, a thorough accounting of all assets can provide a more concise picture of what needs to be distributed upon one’s death, and careful examination of any existing plans can reveal whether all assets and the needs of heirs will be met as intended.

Third, carefully considering who can make health care and financial decisions in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury can ensure that one’s desires are fulfilled. Having more than one individual can also help in the event the selected person is unable to fulfill his or her duties when the time comes. It may also be helpful to set up certain trusts to protect assets in the event a nursing home becomes necessary and one does not have long-term care insurance in place.

Once plans are in place, revisiting them on a regular basis can reveal areas that may need to be updated to reflect changes in one’s life. There is no one plan or planning tool that can meet every individual’s specific needs. However, the peace of mind that comes from having concrete plans that may also avoid estate litigation may be worth the time and effort. New York residents can seek the guidance of an attorney who can provide guidance as to what tools and plans will best meet one’s needs.

Source:, “Bonnie Kraham: Guiding principles of an elder-law estate plan“, Bonnie Kraham, Sept. 25, 2017