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Going beyond a will is typically wise for estate planning

Creating an estate plan is on many New York residents' to-do lists, but it is often near the bottom or constantly having other tasks placed above it. You may think that you have plenty of time to create your plan or may even think that you already have a plan because you created a will. However, an estate plan can -- and typically needs to -- go beyond just a will.

While a will can certainly cover important aspects of your estate and personal life, it is lacking in certain abilities. For instance, a will does not allow you to have control over assets after your passing. If you want to create a comprehensive estate plan, you may want to consider other planning tools.

What else can you use?

If the idea of managing your assets, and at least having a modicum of control over them even after your passing, interests you, you may want to consider using a trust. By placing assets into a trust, you can stipulate when and how beneficiaries can obtain and use the assets. Trustees manage trusts, which means that a beneficiary cannot simply ignore your wishes and do whatever he or she pleases with the assets. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to follow your instructions.

If your heirs have specific needs, you can certainly use a trust to distribute assets. However, you could also utilize other routes. For instance, if you have a loved one who may have a significant income need after your passing, you may wish to take out a life insurance policy as part of your estate plan. Typically, these policies are payable on death, which means you can name a beneficiary to receive the payout after your passing without it first having to go through probate.

Have you considered asset ownership?

You may also need to take the time to review your assets and their applicable titles or deeds. In some cases, errors with these documents could put ownership into question, and if you do not straighten out those problems before your passing, you could leave your loved ones with serious complications.

Though a will can certainly act as a vital part of your estate plan, going beyond that document is typically a smart move. If you are interested in creating a more comprehensive plan, discussing your available options with a knowledgeable attorney could give you the insight you need to determine what tools could help you fully express your wishes.

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