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Brooklyn Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Possible questions during an immigration marriage interview

You're a U.S. citizen. Your spouse is not. They are in the United States legally at this time -- on a work visa or a school visa, for instance -- but that's going to run out. You want to use your marriage to get them a green card so that they can stay with you indefinitely.

The government has this program in place to keep families together. If you have a real, romantic marriage and a true relationship, they'll likely grant your spouse the status needed to stay married. However, they are aware that people try to cheat the system. They want to make sure it's not a sham marriage just to get that green card.

Recognizing the challenges of parental divorce for an only child

Divorcing parents who have multiple children may believe that they have to deal with more challenges than couples with just one child. After all, they have to help kids of different ages cope with all of the changes to their lives and work out a custody arrangement that considers all of their needs and schedules.

However, divorcing parents of an only child have their own unique challenges. Often, only children see their family as the "Three Musketeers." Now that tight little group is being torn apart. Only children may also be more likely to blame themselves for their parents' break-up. Finally, only children have no siblings to share the experience with.

Helping your kids adjust if you have to move after divorce

When couples with children divorce, the parent who gets primary custody often tries to remain in the family home so that their children don't have to leave their school, their neighborhood friends and so much else that's familiar to them. However, that's not always financially feasible.

If you and your kids are going to move -- whether it's across town to a smaller place or perhaps to another city or state to be closer to family, it's essential to prepare the kids for the move. Be aware that it will likely add to the anxiety and stress they're already feeling with the divorce. They're probably still adjusting to spending time with their other parent in their new residence, and now they'll have yet another new home where they'll be spending some or most of their time.

Answer these questions when preparing a will

There is nothing simple about preparing a will. In addition to the tedious nature of the process itself, it's sure to bring a bit of anxiety to your life. However, it's important to remember one thing: Once you have a will in place, you'll feel much better about the future.

There are a variety of questions to answer when preparing a will, all of which will move you toward making the right decisions. Here are five of the most important:

  • Am I required by law to prepare a will? There is no legal obligation to prepare a will, but neglecting to do so puts your assets at risk of ending up in the wrong person's hands.
  • Is it possible to create a will without an attorney? While there are many do-it-yourself tools online, estate planning isn't something to tackle on your own. Proceeding without professional assistance increases the likelihood of making a mistake.
  • Is it possible to alter a will in the future? Yes. You're under no obligation to keep your will the same for the rest of your life. In fact, there's a very good chance you'll need to alter it, such as in the event of marriage, divorce, childbirth or the death of your spouse.
  • Can I name a guardian for my minor children? A will allows you to name a guardian for any children under the age of 18. This person will have legal guardianship over your children, until they reach age 18, if you pass away.
  • Where should I store my will? Keep your will in a safe and secure area, such as a fire safe at your home or a safety deposit box at a local bank. Also, share the location with your executor, so they know where to find the will upon your death.

Guardianships vs. conservatorships: What's the difference?

Good estate planning is about more than designating what will happen after you're gone. A well-drafted estate plan can and should designate who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. This could happen suddenly -- perhaps through a catastrophic accident that leaves you in a coma. It could happen more gradually -- perhaps through dementia.

When contemplating to whom you want to entrust your well-being, you likely will hear the terms "guardianship" and "conservatorship." They're often used interchangeably. However, they are two different types of legal relationships. Let's take a look at both.

Add a financial power of attorney to your estate plan

When estate planning, it's easy to spend most your time on what will happen to your assets upon your death. While this is a big part of your estate plan, there are other things to take into consideration.

For example, a financial power of attorney is the best way to allow another person, such as a family member, to manage your finances if you're incapacitated.

How wealthy engaged couples can protect their assets

If you and your spouse-to-be have waited to tie the knot until you were established in your careers and perhaps even bought your own homes and have healthy savings and investment accounts, you're not alone. Many Americans don't even begin considering marriage until they're well into their 30s or older. Many more marry for a second time with far more assets and responsibilities than they had the first time around.

People who want to protect the assets they bring into a marriage -- whether it's a modest condo, a car and a respectable savings account or many millions of dollars and perhaps a business of their own -- can and should take some important steps to do that.

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.
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