What are the six basic steps of the estate planning process?

six basic steps of the estate planning

Share This Post:

Understanding the Estate Planning Process in New York City

Estate planning is critical to ensuring your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes after your passing. In New York City, the estate planning process involves several essential steps that individuals and families should know. Additionally, understanding who decides if probate is needed is a key part of the process.

The Six Basic Steps of Estate Planning

Estate planning in New York City typically involves the following six steps:

1. Assessing Your Assets and Liabilities

The first step is to take stock of all your assets, including real estate, investments, bank accounts, and personal property. Simultaneously, it would be best if you also considered your debts and outstanding liabilities.

2. Setting Your Objectives

You can define your estate planning objectives once you have a clear financial situation. This may include specifying how you want your assets distributed, providing for loved ones, and minimizing estate taxes.

3. Creating a Will or Trust

Depending on your objectives and the complexity of your estate, you may need to create a will, a living trust, or both. These legal documents outline how your assets will be distributed and who will manage the process.

4. Designating Beneficiaries

You’ll need to specify beneficiaries for your assets, such as family members, friends, or charitable organizations. Clear beneficiary designations help avoid disputes and ensure your wishes are honored.

5. Appointing an Executor or Trustee

An executor (in the case of a will) or a trustee (in the case of a trust) is responsible for managing your estate after your passing. Choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes and fulfill their legal obligations.

6. Reviewing and Updating Your Plan

Estate planning is not a one-time event. It’s essential to review and update your plan periodically, especially when significant life events occur, such as marriages, divorces, births, or financial changes.

Who Decides if Probate is Needed?

Probate is the legal process of validating a will and administering the estate of a deceased person. In New York City, whether probate is required or not depends on various factors, including the type of assets, their value, and how they are held.

Assets held in a trust typically do not go through probate, as they are managed according to the trust’s terms. However, assets held solely in the deceased person’s name without a beneficiary designation may require probate.

The decision on whether probate is needed is typically made by the executor named in the will or the person applying to be the administrator if there is no will (intestate). The Surrogate’s Court oversees the probate process and ensures that it is conducted correctly.


Estate planning in New York City involves a structured process to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are honored. Understanding the steps and who decides if probate is needed is essential for a successful estate plan. Consult with experts at Morgan Legal Group to navigate these complexities effectively and secure your family’s future.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

Got a Problem? Consult With Us

For Assistance, Please Give us a call or schedule a virtual appointment.