Avoiding Undesirable Estate Planning Situations

TV shows often depict unpleasant estate planning situations that can arise including a deceased person leaving assets to a former spouse. While these situations often do not occur in the way depicted on TV or film including the recent Netflix film I Care A Lot, a former spouse could end up receiving assets from your assets or other undesirable situations can occur if you are not careful. 

For a large number of people in New York as well as the rest of the country, estate planning documents including wills and trusts are a person’s final communication with their loved ones as well as the rest of the world. 

Make Sure to Revise Your Estate Plan

One of the most common ways in which a former spouse ends up receiving assets from a person after they pass away is if that person fails to revise beneficiaries under an estate planning document or retirement account.

New York as well as other state laws often make it so that when a married couple divorces, the former spouse loses all property rights. Because pensions are subject to federal law referred to as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, state law does not often have much if any influence over pensions. 

If you fail to adequately revise beneficiary designation, your former spouse could still end up inheriting money. Pensions, however, are not the only estate planning account that people fail to update. Other accounts including beneficiary designations made in bank accounts can also be challenging to find and situations commonly change between a person establishes these terms and when they come into play. 

Consolidate the Number of Accounts You Own

It’s not unheard of for wealthy couples to have several bank accounts at several financial institutions. The best way to respond in these situations often involves reducing the number of accounts that the couple holds and simplifying beneficiary designations. 

Avoid Disinheriting Former Spouses

While it might be challenging to disinherit a former spouse or someone with which you no longer share a close relationship, it’s often best to avoid disinheriting someone. Disinheriting someone can create all sorts of challenges with your estate plan. For one, a chance always exists that you might reconcile and that it will be too late at this point to revise your estate planning documents. As a result, it might be a better idea to leave less to this person and remain hopeful that you will eventually reconcile. 

As the concept of families in the United States evolves, some individuals decide to include close friends in their estate plans. Referred to as unnatural bequests, these acts do not include conventional beneficiaries like children and spouses and should feature specific language stating that this transfer was not an accident. 

Speak with a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney Today

Various questions can arise during the estate planning process. If you or your loved one has questions about the estate planning process, one of the best things that you can do is contact a knowledgeable attorney. Do not hesitate to schedule a free case evaluation with Ettinger Law Firm today.

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