Young Family Estate Planning
Parents of young children often overlook the need to plan for death or disability. Many believe they don't have enough assets yet or that anything they have will automatically go to their spouse. However, every young parent needs basic documents – a Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy – what we term a“Young Family Estate Plan” (YFEP), that formalize your wishes in a variety of unexpected circumstances.
A YFEP ensures that should anything happen to you, your family will continue to thrive and reach their full potential. Here's why.
What Happens Without a YFEP
- If one spouse dies, any assets that were in the husband's or wife's name alone will be subject to a court proceeding to name an “administrator” of the estate and New York law decides who gets which assets. The first $50,000 goes to the surviving spouse and the rest is divided 50% to the spouse and 50% to the children. If the children are minors, the court will appoint a second lawyer to represent the interests of the children.
- If both parents die in a common disaster without a Will, the courts will decide on a legal guardian for the children, where they will live and who will manage the money for them.Ready or not, any remaining funds would be turned over to the children by law at age 18.
- If your spouse becomes disabled, and you don't have a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy for them, here's what happens –you must petition the court to be appointed as your spouse's legal guardian to handle their legal and financial affairs (such as selling or refinancing the house or drawing funds from their accounts) or to make health care decisions on their behalf, including terminating life support should the need arise. Worse, the court may decide against you as legal guardian and appoint someone else.
Benefits of Having a YFEP
- Ensures that all of your spouse's assets go to you and not half to your children if your spouse dies unexpectedly.
- Allows you to choose the legal guardian for your children, specify how your assets will be used for them, and at what age they will receive the remaining assets.
- Avoids guardianship proceedings should your spouse have a disabling accident or illness and provides the legal documents you will need to handle your spouse's legal, financial and medical affairs.
A YFEP includes life and disability insurance reviews and recommendations, to help put in place the financial resources that your family may need to go forward confidently into the future.
"Special Needs" and other Situations
A YFEP is especially important for families with children who have special needs, single and divorced parents, same sex couples and blended families.
Now in our 26th year exclusively practicing estate planning and elder law, Ettinger Law Firm offers you a free initial consultation to discuss your YFEP at any one of our fifteen offices throughout New York State.
Please call Pattie Brown, Firm Manager, at 800-500-2525, ext. 117 to arrange your free initial consultation.