With a thorough estate plan, one can be sure that their assets will be handled properly after death. However, according to the American Association of Retired Persons, more than three-fourths of millennials and around half of all Americans do not have an estate plan. New York residents who are just getting started in the estate planning process have several documents to think about.

With a living will, one can clarify their plans for end-of-life care. Powers of attorney can appoint an agent to handle medical, legal and financial issues if the creator is incapacitated. This could be the most important function of an estate plan for people who have few assets.

Most people think of a will as a document for passing down wealth. However, a will can also name a guardian for minor children as well as direct the distribution of assets with sentimental value. Some people may want to use trusts as well. Along with limited liability entities, tax-free gifting and other vehicles, trusts can offer ways for wealthy people to reduce taxes and better plan the transfer of wealth. Trusts are also one way of making philanthropic gifts.

Another important element of estate planning is talking to family members. An ongoing conversation can help prepare family members to inherit and manage wealth by better understanding the family finances.

People may want to work with an attorney to create an estate plan. Legal counsel could suggest solutions and help ensure the plan is less vulnerable to any challenges from family members. Those who have an estate plan may want to review the plan with the assistance of an attorney every few years. Changes in assets or major family events, such as marriages and births, may all be reasons for an estate plan to be updated.