There’s a myth out there that says estate planning is for only the very wealthy. The very word “estate” can conjure up imagery of sprawling property and a beautiful mansion. In reality, estate planning is something that everyone can benefit from, including local residents of Buffalo.
Everyone Can Benefit From Estate Planning
Estate planning involves bread-and-butter basics like a last will and testament and determining who will make medical decisions in the event of incapacitation. You don’t need to be in the highest tax bracket to want your affairs in order and your wishes for end-of-life care to be properly understood and legally enforceable. Below, we explore just a few of the many ways that everyone can benefit from estate planning.
How Spouses With Children Benefit From Estate Planning
Spouses with children want to make sure their kids are protected in the event that tragedy takes away both parents. Naming godparents is not enough in the eyes of the state. When parents don’t have a clearly outlined plan of guardianship in place, their children might end up in the custody of someone the parents would not have chosen.
Parents can also look at different options for how they want to pass on an inheritance, even after the children are grown and moved out. Trusts offer ways of protecting a variety of parental interests in how their assets are distributed after death–and they can offer tax advantages in the here and now.
How Single Parents Benefit From Estate Planning
Single parents benefit from all that’s discussed above. In fact, they may feel an increased need to protect their children through guardianship. In the event of a single parent’s death, they may not want the family of the absent or deceased parent to take over custody of the children. To be enforceable, those wishes would need to be codified in a legal document.
All parents, single or not, can have children with special needs. Children with mental and physical disabilities may be dependent well into adulthood. As such, it’s not uncommon for parents to worry about how the children will manage after they, the parent(s), are deceased. Estate planning offers creative ways to provide for special needs children without jeopardizing access to government benefits.
Just because you don’t have kids doesn’t mean you don’t have assets to leave behind. Couples without children often have close relationships with the kids of family and friends. If you want to leave those children something, it has to be spelled out in a will or through a trust. The state of New York’s intestacy laws, which are triggered in the absence of a will, may not allocate assets to the person the deceased would have preferred.
Furthermore, those who are married without children may have an even greater need for estate planning in regards to medical care and other power of attorney issues. Who will make decisions in the event of incapacitation? A doctor can’t default to kids. Many people might not want a sibling making the decisions. The way to make sure your wishes are protected and people you trust are placed in charge is to put those wishes in a binding legal document.
Life partners have all these same legal needs–to spell out who gets their assets and who makes their important medical decisions.
When two spouses bring children together to form one family, it can be a beautiful outcome for all involved. However, it can also require that legal issues be worked out. How will inheritances be handled? Is adoption of stepchildren possible? Estate planning is the arena where these matters are established and enforced.
Single & No Children
Single individuals without children might think an estate plan isn’t necessary. However, everyone has friends and family members they wish to protect or provide for after they’re gone. When they pass away, will their assets go the individuals they wished them to? When a person becomes incapacitated, is it legally understood who can access their bank account, manage their financial portfolio, and guide their healthcare? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the tools of estate planning not only can be used, they should be used.
Couples Going Through Divorce
DePrima Law works with couples dealing with a divorce on all the legal issues that this difficult period of life can bring. That includes property division, child custody, and child support. With so much up in the air, it can be easy for a couple to overlook the need to adjust an existing estate plan or establish a new one. The legal framework of their relationships is changing, and an estate plan ought to reflect that.
Wills and trusts. Power of attorney. Healthcare proxy. These are the core issues of estate planning. You don’t need to live in a mansion for these matters to be of paramount importance. They are needed by everyone, and DePrima Law is here for everyone.
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