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Brooklyn Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Getting married? A prenuptial agreement is worth considering.

Most people don't consider themselves particularly wealthy. And even if you do, you may be against the idea of signing a prenuptial agreement because of the bad reputation they have. But you should know that prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous, nor are they used simply to disenfranchise your spouse. In fact, prenups are supposed to protect both spouses and to make a divorce more predictable and less acrimonious.

Prenuptial agreements are growing in popularity among younger couples. Below, we discuss why the trend is changing and why you may want to consider one for your own marriage.

What are kids afraid to tell their divorced parents?

Most separated and divorced parents take great pains to protect their children's emotional well-being. Parents try to keep their kids' lives as normal as possible and constantly reassure them that they are loved -- and that both parents will always be there for them, even if they're no longer together.

Parents often don't realize that their children are also being especially careful not to hurt either of their parents or to make them sad or angry (at their other parent or at them). Even young children see, hear and understand a lot more than their moms and dads often realize. They pick up on how their parents react to things they say and do as they move between their homes.

What should you know about the Medicaid lookback period?

Long-term care planning isn't something that most people think about until they need to get some type of care assistance. The issue with this is that the individual might not qualify for Medicaid care because of their assets.

Medicaid is a program that is needs-based, so people who have significant assets won't qualify for the assistance. Some individuals think that they can just give things away or sell them so they qualify; however, even this isn't possible because of the lookback period.

What types of issues does a home seller need to disclose?

Home sellers are required by law to disclose information regarding the condition of the property and other issues that could negatively impact its value. This is typically done via a disclosure document. If a seller intentionally fails to fully and truthfully complete this document, they can face both criminal and civil penalties.

Precisely what types of issues must be disclosed vary by state as well as locality. Here in New York State, for example, sellers must disclose all fees and surcharges they have to pay on the property, environmental issues like lead plumbing and structural defects like whether there has ever been water damage. Sellers must disclose any material defects.

Trusts are helpful tools for protecting your assets

As someone who is working on estate planning, one thing you need to get to know is how a trust can help you. Trusts are fantastic for protecting your assets. They prevent your assets from being taken from you due to lawsuits or collections. They also help you distribute your assets upon death in the manner that you thought would be best.

Looking at the first reason to have a trust, to protect your assets against litigation, consider this. As you age, if you have debts, like medical expenses that you can't pay, then credit collectors may come calling. These debt collectors could even take you to court trying to get what they are owed.

The importance of a health care proxy and agent

A health care proxy is one of the most crucial documents you can have in your estate plan. It's one document that just about any adult, regardless of their age, is wise to have.

It details your wishes for your medical care – particularly things like under what circumstances you want life-sustaining measures to be continued or discontinued. A health care proxy (known in some states as an advance health care directive or medical directive) can allow you to "communicate" to the medical professionals caring for you if you're unable to speak for yourself.

Appeals court ruling gives boost to ICE detainees

If you have a loved one who has been detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and who may face deportation over an arrest, a sliver of good news may be on the horizon for them, thanks to a judge in California.

The ruling by the appellate judge at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will effectively force the government to either abide by a ruling requiring compliance with the Fourth Amendment provisions or appeal it to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Here's why.

Are you and your child victims of 'parental gatekeeping?'

The terms "parental gatekeeping" and "parental alienation" are often used interchangeably. However, parental alienation -- where one parent tries to turn a child against the other parent -- is an extreme form of parental gatekeeping.

Parental gatekeeping involves a parent restricting a child's contact with their other parent and/or trying to minimize the other parent's involvement in the child's life and development. The gatekeeper may or may not harbor resentment and anger toward their co-parent. They may simply believe that they know how to care for their child and their co-parent doesn't.

Can you seek to end your co-parent's visitation rights?

You were awarded sole custody of your child in your divorce, but your ex has visitation rights. You want to abide by the court order, and you know that it's important for your child to maintain a relationship with your co-parent. However, you're concerned about the safety and well-being of your child during those visits.

Perhaps your child is extremely anxious prior to the visits or tells you they don't want to go, but can't (or won't) explain why. Maybe you've seen or heard things that concern you. Your child may have told you that they see their other parent and their friends drinking during the visits. Maybe your child's clothes smell like cigarettes when they return home.

Have you done your estate planning yet?

Those who work in the field of estate planning frequently encounter folks who believe that once they have drawn up their will, their estate plan is complete. The reality is that could hardly be farther from the truth.

While your will is always a good estate planning jumping-off point, you shouldn't neglect the rest of the plans you will need at some future point.

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