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Estate planning is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that evolves as your life circumstances change. Whether getting married, going through a divorce, or purchasing a home with a partner, updating your estate plan to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are honored is crucial. While it’s not always easy to think about, learning how these life events impact your estate plan is vital. With appropriate planning, you will be assured that your estate plan accurately reflects your goals.

Estate Planning & Marriage

Marriage is more than just an emotional journey. It also brings about significant life changes, including with your estate plan. Update your documents to reflect your marital status and ensure that your spouse has the authority he or she needs to make financial and medical decisions for you should the need arise. It’s not just about assigning your spouse as your power of attorney and health care proxy but also about securing their future by naming them as the beneficiary of your estate, including any retirement savings and life insurance policies.

It is also of utmost importance that couples with prenuptial or postnuptial agreements revisit these documents to ensure that they reflect the evolving dynamics of the relationship. Some agreements allow for modification upon agreement of both parties. However, adhering strictly to the instructions prescribed within the agreement is crucial to maintaining its validity.

Estate Planning & Divorce

Divorce marks a huge transition and necessitates critical changes to your estate plan. Revising your estate plan during separation and divorce is crucial so that you can direct who will inherit your estate as well as to manage your finances and health care during your life. Documents such as your power of attorney and healthcare proxy, Will, and Trust should be updated. Also,  updating your beneficiary designations is equally essential, especially considering that certain plans such as those that follow federal ERISA laws, are not impacted by state law.

Furthermore, if you do not name beneficiaries, your Will controls the disposition of your assets. If you die without leaving a Will, state laws will dictate who inherits your assets, which may not be your desired outcome.

For example, you pass away, single with minor children, owning a house, a retirement account and investments, no beneficiary designation and no estate plan. In this case, a guardian would have to be appointed for the property of your minor children, and their inheritance would have to be placed in trust until they reach the age of majority, which is 18 years. Any distributions would have to be approved by the court which would cost time and money. With a proper plan, you choose who would manage your children’s inheritance, how the money could be used, and when they would receive the money outright and free of trust.

It’s also important to revisit your estate plan in the event of a second marriage, after-born children, and blended families.

Estate Planning & Homeownership

Are you embarking on the journey of homeownership? It’s vital to ensure your estate plan considers this substantial asset. With a proper estate plan, you can avoid negative consequences. For instance, failing to designate who will inherit your home could mean that your biggest assets transfers to a parent or sibling, potentially contradicting your true intentions. This can be particularly troublesome if your parent or sibling is receiving resource-based governmental benefits, or is incapacitated.

Additionally, if you have minor children, it’s a good idea for you to dictate what happens to the family home if you pass unexpectedly. Having a minor as an owner of real estate is problematic.

For unmarried couples, the prospect of purchasing a home together can be as exciting as it is daunting. In many ways it’s getting married at the closing table—you’re intertwining your lives in a significant and financially impactful way. Unlike marriage, if your relationship ends, there are no clear cut laws on how to divide this asset. Because of this, we encourage our unmarried clients to have a well-thought-out written agreement in place which addresses the disposition of real property in the event the relationship terminates, before you reach that closing table.  As with most things, it’s easier to come to an agreement while you’re getting along, rather than when a relationship is ending.

The terms of the agreement helps to delineate ownership percentages and financial contributions, which aids in preventing disputes should the relationship end. It also outlines the terms for selling the property or buying out the other party’s share, a provision particularly critical if the contributions made were unequal. So, consider it a prenuptial agreement for your home – a safeguard ensuring both parties’ interests are protected as you take this significant step.

Estate Planning & Pets

We love our pets and want to make sure that they are properly cared for upon our passing. If you’re a pet parent, include them in your estate plan. Wills can include pet trusts that will assure the well-being of your furry friends. You can also appoint a person to care for your pet after your death to ensure that your pets receive the care they deserve even if you’re not around.

Estate Planning = Peace Of Mind

Estate planning is a dynamic process that should evolve with you. Whether you get married, divorced, have children, or purchase a home, updating your estate plan ensures your loved ones are protected and your wishes are honored. By proactively addressing these changes, you can avoid unintended negative consequences and provide for your family’s future. This proactive approach empowers you to take control of your financial and personal affairs, giving you peace of mind and confidence in the future.

The best way to ensure your documents reflect your current circumstances and future wishes is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. They can guide you through the process and help you make the best decisions for your situation.


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10 Utica Ave, Latham, NY 12110
Website: https://themeierlawfirm.com/
Phone: 518-313-7809

COUNSEL WITHOUT JUDGEMENT

At Meier Law you can count on us to provide counsel without judgment in all areas of estate planning and administration. They strive to make their clients to feel comfortable and secure while developing their estate plans by being skilled, direct, and honest with every individual they serve. Meier Law understands the gravity of each situation and strives to earn your trust so we can advise you in the best way possible. If you have any questions or concerns about creating an estate plan, don’t hesitate to call and schedule a consultation!

Meier Law Firm is committed to playing an active role on the team of professionals that help you and your loved ones maintain the best quality of life. To learn more about their Long-term Care Planning Services, visit TheMeierLawFirm.com


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