New York Elder Law Estate Planning Without Children or Spouse

Taking the burden of long-term care issues off of family members and eliminating the risk of family inheritance disputes are often a crucial component of elder law estate planning. Yet, that should not be mistaken for the notion that those who do not have children and/or a partner have less need for this planning. On the contrary, in certain ways, those without dependents or a spouse have even more need to ensure outside plans are in place to handle these iend-f-life and inheritance issues.

For one thing, depending on what the future holds, those in this position may have less immediate outside support to provide long-term care or ensure basic life needs are met. Historically, children often help aging parents; seniors without children need to have alternatives in place to ensure their quality of life does not suffer down the road. Many senior members of the LGBT community, for example, are less likely to have children and are well-served by taking care of these matters ahead of time. Long-term care insurance may be particularly valuable when there are fewer relatives or others to provide needed support. Along the same lines, even if long-term care insurance is not financially feasible, individuals should ensure that they are positioned to receive New York Medicaid support, if necessary, down the road.

What about inheritances?

Those without children or a spouse may actually have an increased need to put special inheritance plans into place. Our New York estate planning lawyers advise all families to avoid the probate process or the “default” intestacy rules. For those without children or a legal spouse, this might mean that an inheritance goes to a distant relative or even given to the government.

In these cases it is absolutely essential to conduct alternative arrangements to ensure favored causes, friends, or others reap the benefit of your estate. For example, one may wish to support a charity or private foundation while alive or after they pass. At the very least this designation must be made in a will. Beyond that, however, legal tools, like charitable trusts, exist to better funnel resources to the causes while saving on taxes. This is often particularly useful for one who has significant non-cash assets. These trusts provide an income tax benefit to the donor while still providing a stream of income. In addition, the trust can be earmarked for unique purposes, depending on the donors wishes.

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