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Why trusts are a wise step for New Yorkers' estate plans

A mistake that people in New York and across the country will often make is to believe that a lack of major wealth means that formulating an estate plan is not a priority. The reality is that everyone can use a comprehensive and well-designed estate plan specifically crafted to suit their needs. Since baby boomers have substantial assets and are growing older as a group, those assets - totaling an estimated $30 trillion - will be passed to their heirs soon. That requires a solid set of strategies to ensure those assets go where the testator wants. With that amount of wealth, a trust is often a wise step.

A trust can be useful for a multitude of purposes including stopping heirs from wasting assets. There are multiple ways in which trusts can be designed. With it, it is possible to have specific details as to how assets will go to beneficiaries. For example, the assets can be kept from the heirs until they reach a specific age. It is also possible to state how the money should be used such as for education and necessities.

With a trust, it is possible to avoid probate and keep estate taxes under control. Although the estate tax is being debated by lawmakers as to whether it will stay in place and only applies to estates for individuals that are worth $5.45 million and $10.49 million for couples, it is still something to weigh. With a trust, the heir can access the assets, but creditors cannot touch it. For those who are married and divorce, it will be shielded from being part of the marital pool.

While an estate plan might not be the first thought on the minds of many people, it is an integral part of ensuring that loved ones will be cared for and assets will go to those who the person chooses. A trust is a key part of that, but might not be the best solution for everyone. There are numerous options available and a legal professional who is experienced with wills, trusts and other aspects of estate planning can help.

Source: cnbc.com, "How to start thinking about an estate plan," Sharon Epperson, Jessica Dickler, Nov. 21, 2017

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