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Parents and Spouses: Now Is the Time to Do or Revise Your Will, Trust, Estate Plan, and Other Advance Directives

Parents and Spouses: Now Is the Time to Do or Revise Your Will, Trust, Estate Plan, and Other Advance Directives

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten our health and financial security, as well as that of our children, it’s more important than ever to ensure that all life planning documents are in order. The time to make sure you and your family are protected is now.

You should have the following in place and up to date:

Will

Stipulate how your assets should be distributed after death, designate beneficiaries, and appoint an Executor to carry out your directions.

Estate Plan

Plan distribution of your assets in detail, minimize estate tax, and specify any other instructions to be carried out.

Trust

Manage, protect, and minimize taxation of your inheritance to minors or persons with disabilities.

Guardianship

Appoint persons you trust to be your children’s guardians in the event of your death, incapacity, or absence.

Power of Attorney

Designate a trusted agent to make legal, financial, and business decisions for you in the event that you can’t.

Health Care Proxy/Living Will

Designate a trusted agent to make medical decisions for you in the event that you can’t and provide your family with directions regarding extraordinary medical care and end-of-life decisions.

Other considerations for divorced or separated spouses and unmarried parents:

Will: Make sure your will is updated to reflect your wishes regarding your spouse. They can’t be completely disinherited because of elective share laws, but your inheritance and other matters should be properly addressed.

Trusts, Guardianship, and Custody: These and other matters regarding your children in the event of your death or incapacity should be planned and stipulated, and any related disagreements between you and your spouse resolved in writing.

Bank Account(s): Verify the status of joint bank accounts and other shared finances. For estate planning purposes, determine distribution of shared assets.

Retirement Plan: Verify the status of your spouse’s right, title and interest in your 401(k), pension, or deferred compensation plan. Change your beneficiary on the Plan Administrator’s form and if possible have your spouse waive all rights.

This list is by no means comprehensive, nor does everyone need all documents listed. The information is general and is not intended to be, and should not be considered, legal advice. For specific questions please contact Joseph Trotti at jtrotti@vmmlegal.com or 516.437.4385 x140.