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Brooklyn Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Worried about dementia? Get a health care directive now.

Death and medical conditions are things that most people don't want to deal with. Ignoring them will not prevent them from happening, but it can lead to problems when determining how your loved ones will have to handle the issues. One area that many people fail to address, is completing an advance directive for medical care.


What should you include in your prenuptial agreement?

Once you and your soon-to-be spouse decide in favor of creating a prenuptial agreement, it's time to turn your attention to the details you'll include.

It may take some discussion, negotiation and compromise, so don't rush through this part of the process. It's imperative for both individuals to be completely satisfied with the agreement before signing on the dotted line.

Advice for discussing estate planning with your parents

As your parents age, it's more important than ever to keep an open line of communication regarding estate planning. While you don't want to become a nuisance, it's good to let your parents know that you're willing to help.

The most difficult part of discussing estate planning with your parents is starting the conversation. It's never easy to get this out in the open, but these tips can help:

  • Pick the right time and place: As one of the most important conversations you'll ever have, you must pick a time and place that makes everyone comfortable. For example, don't discuss estate planning at a birthday dinner. Also, don't wait until a time of crisis, such as the death of a loved one, to have this discussion.
  • Make your intentions clear: Before the conversation begins, make it clear as to what you want to accomplish. You don't want to give the impression that you're concerned about your inheritance or looking to better your situation. When you're sincere about your intentions, it will help ease the tension.
  • Don't rush the conversation: Many people make the mistake of trying to cram too much information into one conversation. It's okay to bring the basics to light, and then step away for the time being. This gives everyone a chance to digest what's happening and better plan for the next discussion.
  • Involve everyone: For example, you shouldn't talk to one parent about estate planning but not the other. Just the same, if you have siblings, don't shy away from asking them to partake. Again, this helps avoid a situation in which it appears that you're trying to hide something.

Does a postnuptial agreement make sense for you and your spouse?

If you didn't get around to creating a prenuptial agreement, regardless of the reason, you may want to consider a postnuptial agreement -- widely known as a postnup.

Prenups and postnups serve the same purpose. The primary difference is when the document is created. As the name suggests, a postnup is created after you tie the knot.

Can you make your divorce go smoother?

Facing an upcoming divorce can be intimidating. It is a difficult and emotional experience. You may be worried about what the process will be like and how you are going to figure out.

While there is no way to completely mitigate the negative aspects of divorce, there are a few ways you can ease some of the stress. Here are three tips for navigating divorce and smoothing out the process.

What does it mean to financially prepare for divorce?

If you've decided to divorce, your immediate attention will turn to matters regarding child custody, child support, spousal support and property and debt division.

While all of these things are important, don't wait too long to financially prepare for the divorce process. Here are some of the many things you can do:

  • Create a budget: Knowing what your budget will look like after divorce gives you a better idea of the steps to take. For example, if you can't pay all your bills with your current income, seek out ways to save money in the future.
  • Gather documentation: Your financial records will provide you with guidance. These may also be required during your divorce. Gather bank statements, retirement account statements, credit card statements, pay stubs and tax returns to start.
  • Make a list of separate and joint assets: Any assets you brought into your marriage may be protected from division. Listing these out will help you keep these items safe.
  • Cancel joint accounts: Leaving a joint credit card account open, for example, could result in trouble. Your soon to be ex-spouse could run up a high balance, thus sticking you with half in the divorce.

Are you creating a health care proxy? How to select an agent

A health care proxy is a legal document that gives another person, known as an agent, the power to make health care decisions on your behalf. For example, this may be necessary if you suffer a serious injury that leaves you incapacitated.

The most important part of creating a health care proxy is selecting an agent. This is the person you trust to make difficult decisions on your behalf.

Estate planning and a second marriage: Points of consideration

If you decide to divorce your spouse, it'll change your life in many ways. It's critical to alter your estate plan as soon as possible, as there's a good chance you want to remove your ex-spouse entirely.

In the future, you may decide to remarry. This will lead you to once again review your estate plan. When doing so, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Children from a previous marriage: If you have children from your previous marriage, you may want to include them in your future estate plan. This holds true even if you have additional children with your new spouse.
  • The assets you brought into the marriage: If you have significant assets, such as stocks and real estate holdings, you may choose to keep these separate as to protect them in the event of another divorce. This will help you pass the assets down to the person of your choosing.
  • The debt brought into the marriage: For example, if your partner is bringing a lot of debt into the marriage, you can create a prenuptial agreement to protect against being responsible for some of it in a divorce.

Follow these tips to ease tension when asking for a divorce

Asking for a divorce can be one of the tensest situations you ever face. This is particularly true if your spouse doesn't know how you feel.

As difficult as it may be, you don't want to hold back from having this conversation. Here are several tips you can follow to ease tension and push the conversation forward in the appropriate manner:

  • Prepare yourself: From what you want to say to how you'll answer particular questions, prepare yourself to the best of your ability. This will ensure that you're not surprised by anything that comes your way.
  • Choose the right time and place: This important conversation deserves the full and undivided attention of both individuals. Choose an appropriate time and place, as this allows you to focus solely on the conversation.
  • Don't change your mind: It's safe to assume you've spent a lot of time thinking about asking for a divorce. Your spouse may attempt to change your mind, but you should remain firm.
  • Protect yourself: It's best to have this conversation face-to-face, but don't do so if you have concerns about your safety. In this case, it's best to ask for a divorce in a public place or over the phone.

The many reasons to review and update your estate plan

When you create an estate plan, you do so with the idea that it'll provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind. While this is sure to happen, don't overlook the fact that you may need to review and update your estate plan every so often.

There are many specific reasons to review your estate plan, including the following:

  • The death of an important person in your life: For example, if your beneficiary has passed away, you'll need to alter your estate plan to reflect this.
  • Divorce or marriage: Either way, your estate plan is sure to change. Don't wait a single day to review your plan and adjust it accordingly.
  • Birth or adoption: If you bring a new child into your life, you'll want to make the necessary changes to your estate plan.
  • Change in guardian or personal representative: There are many reasons to make this change, such as if the person you first named has passed on.
  • The acquisition of a valuable asset: This could alter your estate plan in many ways, such as who is in line to receive the asset upon your death.
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