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Why timing is everything when it comes to estate planning

Few people are enthusiastic about matters related to estate planning. It's an inescapable reality, however, that each of us will one day pass on. The steps we take to prepare for that inevitability, can both positively and negatively impact the lives of those we leave behind.

People often assume they will live well into their golden years and that they therefore have plenty of time to worry about and make plans with regard to estate planning matters. In reality, however, terrible accidents and tragedies do occur and often impact individuals who are in their 20s, 30s or 40s. If a 35-year-old young father is hit by a car while biking to work and doesn't have a will or medical directive, loved ones are often forced to sit by as important decisions about their loved one's health and assets are decided.

In addition to having a will and other crucial estate planning documents, individuals would be wise to ensure they've taken the necessary steps to ensure wealth passes on to loved ones in the easiest and most beneficial way. For example, in our last blog post we discussed estate planning and taxes. It's important to know how certain accounts and assets are taxed and take action to ensure loved ones aren't stuck with a big tax bill.

It's also smart to ensure assets are passed in a way that will provide for the maximum benefit of loved ones and beneficiaries. For example, it may not make sense to hand an 18-year-old a large lump sum inheritance. A trust is an effective estate planning tool to provide for a loved one's long-term financial wellbeing.

As with many things in life, being prepared early is often best. When it comes to estate planning, however, individuals need to frequently revisit and revise important documents to account for life changes. The key is to start today. New York residents who have questions about setting up a comprehensive estate plan would be wise to seek the advice and assistance of an estate planning attorney.

Source: Business Insider, "5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes To Avoid," Mandi Woodruff, Oct. 21, 2013

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