New York residents who own property or other assets should ensure that they have an estate plan in place to transfer those assets on to their loved ones after they pass away. Though the process of creating an estate plan may seem daunting, estate planning is generally easier and more affordable than many realize, and it is easy for people to get started on their own by inventorying and cataloguing their assets.

Before consulting with an estate planning attorney, it is a good idea to make a list of both tangible assets, like a home, and intangible assets, like bank and retirement accounts. A list of valuables should also include things that may not have much monetary value but that carry some sentiment, like a family heirloom.

When making end-of-life preparations, it is also good to consider getting a life insurance policy for dependent family members. If a parent has minor children, it is imperative that the parent name a guardian to care for the children should the parent pass away. If this is not done, the court will appoint a guardian who many not be of the parent’s choosing.

When deciding what type of estate plan to create, people should anticipate whether they are going to want to make changes or additions to the plan at a later date. If more property or beneficiaries are expected to be added, a revocable trust may be best.

An estate planning attorney may help clients decide whether to create a will or a trust. Trust funds often offer benefits that wills do not: For instance, irrevocable trusts can confer tax benefits on either the trustor or the beneficiaries of the trust, depending on how it is structured. Estate planning attorneys may work with financial and tax advisors to ensure that clients are familiar with their various options.