New York Estate Planning Pitfalls to Avoid for Widows

No matter what stage in life, all local residents have much to gain from conducting New York estate planning. However, proper financial preparation is particularly vital for those who have assets built up over a lifetime or who are nearing the age when long-term care planning is becoming more of a concern. One group which often faces unique planning needs are the recently widowed. As a New York Times article this weekend shared, these widows continue to be predominantly women and are often unfamiliar with issues like investing, taxes, insurance, and healthcare planning.

The article explains how one common problem faced by new widows is the myriad of individuals who may wish to take advantage of the situation. Many recently widowed have fallen victim to salespeople who make disingenuous promises while trying to sell investments, like annuities. Besides unscrupulous salespeople, some community members are also forced to deal with adult children who make requests that might not be in the individual’s best interest. For example, one advocate noted how some relatives may seek an advance on an inheritance by using arguments like, “How can you deny me this when we’re going through so much emotional pain already,” or “Dad would have given me the down payment money if he was still around.”

Dealing with these and similar demands can be particularly distressing for those already going through an incredibly difficult situation following the passing of a loved one. One advocate who now works as a counselor for the newly widowed explained that it is often best to let trusted financial assistants, like an estate planning attorney, help in those situations. She urges widows to “let that professional be the stingy one.” One of the main benefits of having professional guidance with these financial affairs is the aid that can be provided with complex inheritance issues and dealing with those who make demands on funds.

Most family members will not seek to take advantage of a widow following the death of a spouse. However, these situations frequently create vulnerabilities that should always be guarded against. In addition, it is important to ensure that estate plans remain updated to account for all major life changes–like the passing of a life partner. Our New York estate plan lawyers work with many local residents who are seeking planning assistance after losing a spouse. The need for systematic reviewing of these plans is why we offer a Lifetime Elder Law Estate Planning Process that provides free monitoring to help residents keep their plan updated after changes to their family situation.

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