Our New York elder law estate planning lawyers understand that handling long-term planning issues can be particularly delicate when there are second marriages involved. However, it is in these situations, with blended families, when this sort of planning is absolutely critical. Many adult children have natural concern when their parent remarries. Obviously there are inheritance planning issues, and it is vital that seniors who remarry make their wishes very clear about who they’d like to receive what. Failure to do so opens the door to strong disagreement and infighting between those involved. The family glue can come undone even among blood relatives, and there are often even less ties keeping fights in check when blended families are involved.
Beyond inheritance issues, local families should also take note of the New York elder law concerns which are implicated by second marriages and blended families. Decisions about naming a Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney in the event of disability can present some disagreement when seniors remarry.
An article this weekend in the Laurel Leader-Call referred to another issue regarding the long-term care planning problem in the context of second marriages. The story discussed two seniors who met at an assisted living facility, fell in love, and married. Eventually one of the partners began a physical and mental decline and needed to be moved to a nursing home. The couple did not realize that Medicaid could have been applied for to help support those nursing home costs. If the partner whose health deteriorated passes away, their life savings may be entirely exhausted in providing for the long-term care. As a result, the surviving spouse is often left in dire straits when his or her own health deteriorates and they have a need for skilled nursing care. What often happens is that adult children are forced to scramble in crisis mode to figure out how to pay for the care the elder needs. A range of issues are present when those adult children are step-children who may not have as close a connection with the senior.
Blended families and second marriages raise a variety of concerns that should be accounted for by prudent families. Both estate planning and elder law issues are raised. The issues are often complex, and so professional help is always advisable. It is particularly important to ensure that the professional which is sought out has experience in both areas: elder law and estate planning. Failure to account for disability and long-term care issues may make inheritance and tax planning ineffective (and vice versa). All parts of the planning must work together to ensure that they are effective at the moment when they are needed.
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