Having a detailed estate plan is critical for New Yorkers of any age. While it can be unpleasant to think about death and passing on assets, not doing so could have dire circumstances. Without a plan, family members could see a deceased relative’s assets go to other parties, including the government.

An estate plan that involves setting up trusts and IRAs with dedicated beneficiaries as opposed to naming heirs in a will, may be fundamental in avoiding probate. However, probate avoidance should not be the only consideration during the estate planning process. It is crucial to consider tax implications as those who wish to leave their assets to loved ones may not want to share more than they have to with the IRS. Gifting loved ones while alive is another option; although, knowledge of the current tax codes is necessary as well to make an optimum determination.

It’s important to remember that the estate planning process evolves as the years pass. Therefore, estate owners of all ages should review their estate plans at least every two years or after a significant life transition, such as a change in a marital situation or the birth of a grandchild. Failure to do so could result in assets ending up in the hands of an ex-spouse as well as children or grandchildren not receiving their intended shares.

Estate planning is an extensive process that involves a myriad of factors. Many New Yorkers attempt to tackle the project on their own. However, qualified professionals could provide valuable guidance. An estate planning attorney can advise a client based on their unique circumstances and help them create a suitable plan.