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Brooklyn Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Why is January known as 'Divorce Month?'

If you're starting off 2020 by filing for divorce, you're certainly not alone. January has even been nicknamed "divorce month" by family law attorneys who see an increase in new clients when they return to the office after the holidays.

Part of this phenomenon has to do with New Year's resolutions to finally take action to get out of an unhappy or even abusive marriage. However, one attorney who has represented some well-known entertainers in their divorces notes that the holidays are a big factor.

Is a trust more beneficial than a will?

Many people who have recently started the estate planning process become overwhelmed by all of the options that are available to them. While they are aware that wills are the most traditional method of estate planning, they may have also been informed about the benefits of probate avoidance and how trusts can be used strategically to make better use of their estate.

If you are unsure about whether your estate plan would benefit from the initiation of a trust, you should first take the time to conduct thorough research. By understanding the potential benefits of trusts as an addition to an estate plan, you will be better equipped to decide whether to incorporate one.

Giulianis have reportedly settled their contentious divorce

The acrimonious and expensive divorce of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife Judith has been making headlines for more than a year. It seemed like the two would never be able to agree on how to divide their wealth. However, according to Mrs. Giuliani's attorney, they finally have done so.

The attorney released a statement recently stating, "The parties resolved their divorce...along with all issues concerning support, assets and any other claims. They wish each other the best of luck in the future."

Get your spouse a green card to come to the USA

You married your spouse while you both lived overseas, but you were the only person who was a U.S. citizen. Born in the United States, you've always been welcome here, so it's been difficult to deal with the fact that your spouse may not be granted those same rights.

Fortunately, the likelihood is that they will be approved to come to the United States if you are able to fill out the appropriate documents and help them with their visa application.

What's wrong with do-it-yourself estate planning?

As you spend time with family over the holidays, you may start to think about what you want your children, grandchildren and others to inherit after you're gone. Even though that time may be a long way off, you realize it's best to be prepared.

You may determine, for example, that one of your adult children is better equipped to handle the task of administering your estate than the others. Perhaps one of your kids has shown a particular interest in your Montauk beach house, and you want to make sure they get it without having to fight for it. Maybe you realize that leaving money outright to your grandchild who just dropped out of college and is sleeping on a friend's couch in Brooklyn isn't a good idea.

Take care of your mental health during divorce

Going through a divorce is an emotionally trying experience. Many people don't realize just how difficult the process is, and that makes it harder for them. One of the most important things for a person who is going through a divorce is to realize is that the range of emotions they feel is normal.

As you experience the emotions that come up, you should address them. Trying to suppress them can lead to them becoming more intense and harder to control. This can become destructive because you might find that it begins to impact every area of your life.

Why co-parents need to agree on expanding their kids' freedoms

As kids grow up, it's only natural that they want more freedom and responsibility. This can include the ability to stay home alone, go to and from school, the library or store on their own, have their own cellphone or use kitchen appliances like the oven without adult supervision. As kids get into their teen years, they'll continue to test their boundaries.

All of this can be frightening for parents. It's natural to be torn between wanting your kids to become more independent and fearing they'll suffer some kind of harm. Increasing your kids' freedoms can be even more challenging when they're being parented across two households.

What you should know about heirs-at-law and intestate succession

If a person dies without an estate plan (at least a will), state probate laws determine which relatives inherit their estate, what portion of it and under what circumstances. These people are called "heirs-at-law."

These are also the people who would have "standing" to contest a will if there is one. That doesn't mean that they automatically have a right to any part of the estate if the deceased didn't include them. The only exception would be a spouse. In New York and all states except Georgia, current spouses can't be disowned.

The difference between a living will and Health Care Proxy

For those hoping to create a comprehensive estate plan that protects them, their assets and their loved ones in the event of their death or incapacitation due to medical issues, addressing health concerns early on is a common tactic. However, it isn't necessarily as straightforward as you might imagine.

Residents of New York have more options than people in other states when it comes to authorizing others to make medical decisions on their behalf. Specifically, those planning their estate can use either a living will or Health Care Proxy form to outline their medical wishes and preferences.

Don't let your anger sabotage your child custody case

If you're in a custody battle with a co-parent who's seeking primary or sole custody of your children, you may not be thinking or acting rationally. You may be consumed by anger that your fitness as a parent is being challenged.

Your goal is to demonstrate to the court (and maybe your co-parent) that you deserve the custody rights you're seeking. To do that, you need to avoid some pitfalls that too often end up hurting parents in heated custody battles.

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