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Estate planning errors to avoid

Individuals in New York who are estate planning should keep in mind that there are a number of common errors that people make with their wills, trusts and other documents and accounts. One of these errors is making an estate plan and failing to return to it for revisions. Such changes as children, marriages, deaths and divorces may result in a needed update, so estate plans should be periodically reviewed.

Individuals may also need to consider how they disburse funds among their children. Trusts can be set up to attach conditions to funds disbursed to special needs children, or individuals may find that they want their children to be of a certain age before they are able to access their trust fund. Individuals should also be careful about whom they have chosen to be trustee. Hiring someone may be better than appointing a family member who may be put in an uncomfortable position.

A will has to go through a potentially expensive and time-consuming probate process, so individuals may find that they are better off establishing a revocable trust. However, a revocable trust must be funded once it is established.

While focusing on wills and trusts, it is important to keep in mind that life insurance policies and other accounts that have beneficiaries are separate from the wills and trusts. These need to be kept current as well. Finally, individuals should avoid DIY estate planning due to the complexity of the process.

An attorney may be helpful in estate planning and ensure that documents requiring precise legal language are accurate and up-to-date. Furthermore, an attorney may also be able to assist an individual in making the right decisions regarding the use of trusts, wills and other aspects of estate planning.

Source: CNBC, "Trust bust: Steer clear of the 8 biggest estate-planning mistakes", Barry Glassman, January 03, 2015

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