What you might want to include in an estate plan

While a will is an essential part of an estate plan, it is not the only tool that you may use to exercise greater control over your assets. For instance, you can create a trust to keep assets from being seized by creditors, use beneficiary designations to transfer assets without the need for probate or give someone power of attorney. An attorney may help ensure that these documents are crafted in accordance with New York law.

How to use a trust to protect your assets

Any assets that are held inside of a trust are considered to be outside of your estate. Therefore, they generally cannot be divided in a divorce or taken by creditors to satisfy an outstanding debt. An irrevocable trust may be an ideal tool to use if you plan on making gifts to beneficiaries during your lifetime.

How beneficiary designations make it easier to transfer assets

Beneficiary designations are typically attached to bank, brokerage and other types of financial accounts. They may also be attached to homes, cars or anything else that might need to be titled in a person’s name. It’s important to note that these designations override the language in your will. Therefore, it’s a good idea to review a beneficiary form on a regular basis to ensure that the designation still reflects your true intentions.

Why would you want to designate a financial agent?

A financial agent has the ability to pay your bills, sell assets and take other steps to manage your money while you’re incapacitated. If you want, you can authorize your agent to oversee your affairs at any point after a power of attorney form goes into effect. An estate planning attorney may be able to help you draft such a document.

If you need help putting your estate plan together, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney. A legal adviser may also be able to review existing documents to determine if they would likely withstand a legal challenge.