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Estate planning: taking account of values, deep attachments

Mentioning the phrase “estate planning” to many people likely conjures in their minds the creation of a will and attendant distribution of assets to family members.

Although that is certainly a common process that routinely plays out in New York and across the country, estate planning can be defined by much more than the parents’ will and the consignment of various assets to select family members.

In fact, planning is almost infinitely creative and varied across the country, with outcomes understandably being just as unique as the individuals and families fashioning them.

That sense of uniqueness in every case is a point that is centrally underscored in a recent New York Times article.

The bottom-line point that is conveyed by the author’s article is this: Planning is meaningful, and it can be driven throughout by so-called “legacy” concerns.

In many instances, that means that a will, carefully considered trusts and other documents are instruments that are painstakingly crafted and employed to reflect a person’s deepest values and ethical feelings about life. That can result in far more complex outcomes than simply leaving all the assets to the kids or other family members.

Indeed, many people don’t even have kids. Instead, they have deep and abiding attachments to particular social, educational, religious and other organizations that helped them during life. Understandably, they want to give back.

An experienced estate planning attorney knows intimately well that a meaningful and soundly executed estate plan necessarily has a philosophical component to it. A proven planning attorney will take all the time that is necessary to discuss what is important to a client and help ensure that legacy considerations are fully incorporated in relevant planning documents.

Source: The New York Times, "In estate planning, family isn't always first," Caitlin Kelly, May 2, 2014

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