Adults in New York need an estate plan for a number of reasons. Without an estate plan, they have no control over what happens to their assets. An estate plan can also protect minor children and help ensure that a health care and financial plan is in place if a person becomes incapacitated.

Estate plans should be reviewed and updated after major changes in a person’s family or assets. To create or update an estate plan, a person should start by making a list of assets and liabilities. They should also get any important documents and make sure that family members know where to find them. People should then consider their goals for the estate plan.

The estate plan may consist of a will, powers of attorney and beneficiary designations among other documents. The person may also want to use one or more trusts as part of the estate plan. Trusts can offer a number of advantages over other estate planning vehicles. They can ensure that assets pass directly to beneficiaries instead of having to go through the probate process. An attorney may be able to help an individual set up a trust, which could be revocable or irrevocable depending on a person’s aims. The former can be changed or canceled while the latter generally cannot be.

There are many different uses for a trust. For example, a trust can provide income for family members while also supporting a charity. Trusts can allow distributions to beneficiaries to be tied to certain milestones, such as reaching a certain age or getting married. If a beneficiary may be irresponsible with money, distributions could be made at the discretion of the trustee. If the trust is a complex one, the trustee might need to have a legal and financial background to manage it effectively.