Planning for the wellbeing of your children may be at the forefront of your mind in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The decision you have been putting off may feel more urgent than ever. Namely, who would care for your minor children if you and a co-parent (if any) become unavailable? Now is a critical time to carefully consider your intentions and solidify them in writing with an estate planning attorney. But where should you start and what factors should you consider?
Consider naming separate individuals.
Legally, stand-ins for parents fall into two separate roles. A guardian of a minor is responsible for making any legal and medical decisions on behalf of the minor, and generally is the person who cares for and raises a child. A conservator is responsible for managing assets and financial affairs on behalf of a minor (or otherwise incapacitated person) Both are nominated in your Will (and a temporary guardian may be nominated in an Emergency Guardianship Proxy), and you may considering naming separate individuals for each of these roles.
It may prove easier to narrow down individuals who would be well-suited for each role separately based on their respective strengths and … Keep reading
We all love our in-laws, right? (wink, wink) Shielding your hard-earned assets from a child’s spouse in the event of divorce is a critical component of your estate plan. Perhaps you love your son-in-law, but would prefer to pass assets down within your own bloodline. Or, perhaps having been divorced yourself, you realize the possibility of your own child’s divorce, and you worry that your son’s inheritance could end up in the hands of his ex-spouse and their new family down the road. Whatever underlies your concerns, there are ways to prepare an estate plan around these contingencies.
But before meeting with your estate planning attorney, a first step might be having a conversation with your child about a prenuptial agreement. Admittedly, it can be difficult to discuss financial matters with your children, and even more uncomfortable to broach the subject of their potential divorce. Recognize that your child may feel offended and hurt if they sense that you disapprove of their partner or question their judgment (in personal or financial affairs). Keep in mind that you can’t force a prenup on your child, as doing so could invalidate it.
Whether or not a prenuptial agreement is on the … Keep reading
If you find yourself lucky in love after a divorce, you have myriad considerations when deciding whether to remarry. If you have children from your prior marriage that you would like to provide for, I recommend that updating your estate plan be top of mind. A carefully crafted estate plan can function to provide for both your children and new spouse in a way that meets your goals.
Trusts are perhaps the most common estate planning tool used to protect assets and benefit different people. For married couples in particular, a qualified terminable interest property (“QTIP”) trust allows a spouse to enjoy access to assets held in trust during his or her lifetime while limiting the spouse’s ability to control the disposition of those assets after his or her death. This is an effective tool for providing your spouse access to assets for the duration of his or her life while preserving the remainder for your children after his or her death. You may also utilize a QTIP trust in conjunction with other trusts or estate planning vehicles to divide your assets.
Additional advantages to QTIP trusts include qualification for the unlimited marital deduction from state and federal estate … Keep reading
It’s advisable to review and update your estate plan with any change in personal circumstances, financial circumstances, changes in the law, or just the passage of an extended time. But if you’re in the midst of a divorce, or contemplating one, this may be the furthest thing from your mind. Here are a few key reasons why you should make updating your estate plan a top priority:
Divorce can take a while. Divorce proceedings often take many months, and you wouldn’t want your soon-to-be-ex-spouse benefitting from or having any rights with respect to your estate if you were to die in the meantime. While beneficiary designations for certain assets cannot be changed once a divorce proceeding is filed, you may be able to update documents like a Will, Trust, Durable Power of Attorney, and Health Care Proxy at any time, whether or not your divorce is finalized.
Your estate plan may no longer reflect your wishes. In Massachusetts, a final divorce automatically revokes any beneficial provisions for and fiduciary appointment of your former spouse (or his/her family members) in documents like your Will and Trust, but leaves the rest of these documents in-tact. The “back-up” individuals named in your … Keep reading