Many families in New York, as well as the rest of the country, are considered “blended”, which means that many families bring children from previous relationships into new relationships or marriages. Whether or not a family is blended can end up influencing how families should structure estate plans to achieve various goals.
Under New York law, an adopted child is treated identically to how biological children of the adopting parent are. There are, however, unique issues to consider when it comes to adoption and estate planning. Some of these key concepts are discussed in this article.
# 1 – Establishing a Trust
If you have an adopted child, establishing a trust can be a powerful estate planning tool. Holding assets in a trust for a child can help to make sure that the child’s future is protected and that assets passed on to the child are used directly for the child’s benefit.
Holding assets in a trust is also an excellent way to make sure that these assets remain protected until your child is of an age where he or she is mature enough to utilize assets from the trust.
Additionally, if an adopted child has special needs, you should consider creating a special needs trust. The advantage of special needs trusts is that they allow a person to place money aside for the child’s care without placing the recipient’s ability to receive government benefits at risk. Otherwise, a special needs child might be prevented from receiving Medicaid or Medicare after directly receiving assets.
# 2 – Guardianship
If the child is below the age of eighteen, it is important that a guardian is appointed and that the guardian understands the family’s situation. This means that a guardian should know about the adoption and be willing to maintain the lifestyle that has been created for the adopted child.
You should make sure that the guardian is comfortable with the terms of the adoption and understands the sensitivities in regards to the child’s family structure. The guardian should also be able to maintain a relationship with the child’s biological parents if possible.
# 3 – Recognize the Difference between Adopted and Foster Kids
Parents should remember that while similar, foster children are different from biological ones. Foster children are different from adopted children. Foster children are children who are not legally adopted and do not have a right to share an estate. As a result, foster children are not viewed in the eyes of the law as an issue of a person. As a result, if you plan on passing assets to a foster child, you should make sure to delineate your intent to do so in the terms of your estate plan.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
As far as blended families are concerned, one of the best ways to make sure that your intentions are reflected in your estate planning documents is to obtain the assistance of a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer. Contact Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.