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Estate planning in New York involves designating beneficiaries

Imagine buying an expensive gift for a favorite loved one, only to discover that a distant cousin has intercepted the gift instead. This is the type of scenario that could happen if a person in New York fails to participate in estate planning, where that person spells out who the beneficiaries of his or her valuable assets will be after death. Following a few valuable tips can help a person to ensure that his or her belongings end up in the right hands at that time.

After including in a will all of the people whom one wishes to get certain assets, listing them as beneficiaries on the appropriate accounts is also wise. Otherwise, children may try to get themselves designated as beneficiaries on these accounts and then acquire the assets that their parents had actually intended for their siblings, thus ultimately ignoring their parents' wishes. Accounts that can be left to heirs include retirement accounts or bank accounts, for instance.

Updating these beneficiary designations is essential after a person has gotten divorced or newly married. Rolling an old retirement plan into a new one at a new company further requires a person to make sure that his or her beneficiaries on the new account are appropriately chosen. Experts recommend reviewing these designations each year to make sure that they are current.

Estate planning plays an important role in helping a person to dictate what will happen to his or her property after that person dies. Without a will, a person's property will instead have to go through the time-consuming, costly and cumbersome process of probate. An individual's wishes regarding the proper distribution of assets can easily be upheld from a legal standpoint if they are clearly written in well-thought-out estate planning documents in New York.

Source: Forbes, The Big Estate-Planning Goof You May Be Making, No author, Dec. 16, 2013

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