Results tagged “NY estate pan” from New York Estate Planning Lawyer Blog

Estate Planning with the Blended Family in Mind

February 4, 2013,

The birth of a child, a soldier's welcome home, a wedding, a graduation, holiday festivities, or even a birthday party are all examples of gatherings where, more often than not, a blended family is present, taking part and celebrating. In the U.S., first marriages, second marriages and remarriages regularly welcome new family members. Plus, people are generally living longer, often outliving spouses and marrying again. Step children, step parents, children from previous marriages ­ are all members of the different types of blended families that now outnumber "traditional" families in the United States. And if you are a member of a blended family, as it grows and changes, new estate planning considerations arise regarding your own children and family members, as well as members of your blended family.

Avoiding Possible Problems
Often, in many family situations, one of the best ways to avoid potential problems is to talk with family members about your concerns. As a recent USA Today article discusses, communication is critical in estate planning, particularly when a blended family is involved. Frequently when a family member passes, the remaining family members aren't just concerned with the transfer of money, they are also concerned with the transfer of special heirlooms and other unique items. Talking about, and planning for the future transfer of not just monetary assets but personal assets as well will hopefully avoid potential problems and disagreements.

For example, one possible blended family pitfall is leaving an ex-spouse in your estate planning documents. If your marriage status changes, and you already have an estate plan in place, there are several things that you need to consider changing in your plan to avoid possible problems later. It may be wise, if you no longer wish for your former spouse to have a share in your inheritance, to change your estate plan. You may want to revise your plans, including but not limited to your will, your life insurance policies and your retirement plans, so that your former spouse no longer has any share in your assets or wealth. You may also want to rethink your beneficiary designations on different policies, to accommodate your changing family dynamic.

Another option to think about is designating different assets in different kinds of trusts. By putting assets into certain kinds of trusts, a grantor can detail exactly how the assets are transferred. Often, using a trust in estate planning can be a useful way to avoid potential problems by specifically indicating how certain assets will be shared and how assets will be controlled.

As you can imagine, blended families often add much joy to an extended family. But, in many cases, a blended family can also provide challenges for estate planning. With careful considerations, planning, and communication to family members regarding your intentions, the circumstances of any blended family can be managed in any estate plan.

The Importance of Having a Will Even if You are Young, Especially with Children

November 5, 2012,

Do you really need to conduct estate planning if you are only in your 30s, don't have many assets, and don't have a lot of money to spend on legal and planning services? Absolutely.

The specific costs of these planning efforts can always be arranged to meet your resources. And it is critical not to forget that the planning includes components that apply to all parites, regardless of how old they might be or how wealthy. For one thing, an elder law estate plan in New York includes preparations related to long-term health and extreme medical care wishes. Serious accidents affect community members of all ages, and it is critical to have legal documentation in place to explain how you'd like things handled in the event you are seriously incapacitated or disabled.

The need for these documents is even more paramount if children are involved. It goes without saying that parents usually devote their lives to ensuring their children are cared for, protected, and secure in their future. Yet far too many young mothers and fathers forget to take a simple step to prolonged that security indefinitely--use legal documents to identify child care issues in the event of their passing. There is no way to completely prepare for the death of young parents on a child. Yet, dealing with the tragedy is always made a bit easier when the parent or parents had taken some time to identify clear successor guardian wishes in the event of their own death or disability. It is critical that all parents--no matter how old--have very clear plans in place for alternative caregiving.

Informal plans, however, are often of little use. Telling a relative or a friend that you'd lke them to take care of your child in the event of a tragedy is nowhere near enough. There has to be actual legal effect to one's wishes, otherwise, the long-term care of your child may be left to decisions made by the court and agents of the court who have no personal connection to you or your family. It is critical for guardian identification's to be made in a legal document, like a last will and testament, that will affect how the court handles these matters.

Many young parents assume that there is no need for this legal planning because there is an obvious choice for alternative guardian and the court will clearly see things that way. However, one of the most important lessons shared by estate planning attorneys is the fact that relationships are often frayed in the aftermath of a death. While it may not seem like a possibility now, in the aftermath of your death different family members may begin feuding over the guardianship of your child. This fighting will obviously leave real scars on family relationships and will have serious impacts on the child's long-term living. Taking away this uncertainty and doubt should be a high priority for all parents, and it is only fully accomplished as part of an estate plan that puts legal effects to your wishes no matter what the future holds.

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