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5 key parts of estate planning

If you think that estate planning in New York sounds too comprehensive and complex, making it rather intimidating, it can be easier to break it down into separate parts. Below are five key areas that you need to consider:

1. Probate.

This is the legal term for the overall process of distributing the assets that you leave behind when you pass away.

2. A Will.

Probate still happens, even if you have a will, but it gives instructions for the process and makes it easier. Without a will, the court has to decide what to do with your assets. With a will, you get to express your own desires.

3. Beneficiaries.

A beneficiary is a person who may automatically get something of yours, and this can be done outside of the will. For example, if you have a life insurance policy with a family member named as a beneficiary, that person gets the payout from the policy when you pass away. This is predetermined.

4. Trusts.

A trust is just another way to transfer assets. For example, you may want to consider an educational trust that sets aside money to be given to children for college. You can also use trusts to control when property is given to your heirs, which can be useful if they are still children.

5. Power of attorney.

The power of attorney essentially means that someone else can legally make choices for you. This can be done for medical reasons, for example, or to allow a child to help divide your estate.

As you work your way through the process, be sure you know about all legal steps to take.

Source: Simple, "Estate Planning Basics: Five Important Things to Know," Tim Brugger, accessed March 15, 2016

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