Possible alternatives to disinheriting a child

If you live in New York and have an estate plan in place, a time may come when you need to modify it or remove one of your beneficiaries. Circumstances can change over time, and at some point, you may second-guess your decision to leave some of your estate to a child because of drug use, irresponsibility or another reason entirely. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we understand that your needs with regard to your will may change as the years pass, and we have helped many clients who wish to modify their estate plans to reflect these changing needs.

Disinheriting one of your own children is a major decision that can impact you and your family emotionally, as well as financially. Before making such a weighted decision, understand that there are some possible alternatives that may fit your needs. For example, The Balance suggests that, rather than disinherit your child  entirely, you consider creating a trust with specific stipulations.

If, say, you worry your child will blow his or her inheritance on drugs, you can instruct your trustee to not release any money until your child remains drug-free for a predetermined period. You could also, depending on your specific concerns, require that your child work full-time or complete college before accessing the inheritance.

Another option is to give someone you do trust, such as a spouse or another reliable relative, power of appointment  to add the disinherited child back into your will if circumstances improve. For example, maybe you trust your spouse to determine whether your son or daughter has changed and modified his or her life enough to receive part of your estate and not squander it in your absence. Disinheriting a child has considerable repercussions, but these possible alternatives may help you avoid having to do so while still easing your concerns and fulfilling your needs. More about estate planning is available on our web page.


Named as an executor? There are online resources that can help

Have you recently found yourself in the position of executor after a loved one passed? If so, you may be wondering what exactly it is you are supposed to do. Many people find themselves in such a position. Often, they do not know what they need to do with respect to moving the decedent’s will through probate. Typically, they are also dealing with the emotional turmoil that comes with losing a loved one.

Fortunately, some of the answers and tools you need may be only a mouse click away. While a probate attorney can help you with the legal aspects of settling a will in New York, the internet offers plenty of tools to help you keep things organized while administering an estate .

By utilizing some online tools , you may be able to simplify an arduous and time-consuming process. Combining this with the advice of an attorney will help you to navigate the probate process in a more efficient manner.

Shared access

Some of the online options available to help you stay organized offer shared access with other family members, beneficiaries and your probate attorney. This will help keep the process transparent for the family so that you can avoid the mistrust that beneficiaries might direct toward you if they are not kept in the loop at all times.

Pre-determined checklist

Another feature of some of these online tools is that they provide an estimated timeline and a checklist of tasks you must complete. Usually these lists include items you need to do such as making funeral arrangements, locating the will, obtaining copies of the death certificate, filing the estate tax return and various other duties.

Tips and advice

You can also find tips and advice for some of the duties you must fulfill. For example, you may be able to find tips on how to obtain official copies of the death certificate or how best to keep track of the estate’s assets during the probate process.

The duties of an executor can often take more time than you originally expected. In addition, some of the tasks can often seem overly complicated or confusing. In order to reduce stress, save time and stay organized, you should utilize every tool available. This includes your probate attorney and perhaps an online tool that offers some of the above features.

Naming minors as beneficiaries

When it comes to estate planning, many different types of considerations could arise. For example, if you have a children or grandchildren who are minors, you may want to ensure that they are taken care of after you pass away and there may be unique issues to go over when setting up your estate plan. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we are of the importance of creating an estate plan that comprehensively covers all important matters, such as ensuring that minor children who are named beneficiaries have the resources they need.

Depending on the details of your circumstances, it could be wise to name a guardian who can help make sure that assets are distributed appropriately to minor children. For example, you may wish for some of the inheritance to become available once the child reaches a certain age, such as the age of 18 or 25. Moreover, you may want to factor in some of the child’s current and future needs, such as the cost of receiving a college education.

When setting up an estate plan, it is crucial to carefully go over any relevant details. It can be tricky deciding how your assets should be split up once you pass away, but this is an important part of the estate planning process that should be approached with care.

Feel free to visit the section of our site that concentrates on estate administration, where you can look over material that is related to naming beneficiaries  and other topics concerning this facet of law.

How power of attorney differs from guardianship & conservatorship

There are several different titles that can make you a fiduciary, or someone who has decision-making power over a New York loved one, and they all indicate a legal or ethical relationship between you and the other person. Whether you need to pursue a power of attorney or a conservatorship or guardianship depends on your specific situation and the needs of your elder, so it is important to understand the key differences between them. Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., has considerable knowledge of fiduciary duties and how they differ from another, and he has helped numerous clients navigate the complexities related to them.

If you wish to make financial decisions on your loved one or elder’s behalf, Caring.com reports that you may be able to do with a power of attorney for financial matters, or through obtaining a conservatorship or guardianship . The primary difference between them is that the elder names the person they wish to give power of attorney, while a court must name a conservator or guardian.

Another key difference lies in the fact that a power of attorney handles matters that are financial in nature (keep in mind that this differs from a durable power of attorney for health care), while a conservator or guardian may have responsibilities that extend beyond that. For example, in addition to handling financial matters, a conservator or adult guardian may also make decisions regarding health care and related considerations.

Power of attorney also differs from a conservatorship or guardianship in that conservators or guardians may have more responsibilities as far as having to appear regularly in court. If you are a conservator or guardian, you can expect to have to show up in court at set times to detail how money is spent. The court also generally has power over you, meaning you may see your duties or responsibilities change outside of your control. When you have power of attorney , you generally do not have to appear regularly in court. More about estate planning and fiduciary duties is available on our web page.

How much is the fee to file for probate?

If you are the executor of an estate, all sorts of questions may be on your mind. For example, you may have uncertainties related to your fiduciary duties or you could be unsure of how to approach the probate process. In Jamaica, and all across the state of New York, it is vital to make sure that you are aware of your responsibilities and prepare yourself for some of the responsibilities that lie ahead. For example, if you file for probate, you may be unsure of what the filing fee is.

According to the New York State Unified Court System, the probate filing fee is dependant upon an estate’s size. A large estate, such as one with assets exceeding $500,000, will have a variable fee of $1,250 to file for probate . On the other hand, a more modest estate, such as an estate with under $10,000, the fee is only $45. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that there are other fees associated with the probate process.

Executors have many responsibilities and there are times when it can be tough to manage an estate after someone who was close passes away. However, executors must be ready to stand up for their rights and defend themselves in the event that false allegations arise, such as claims that they breached their fiduciary duties. Throughout all phases of the probate process, it is essential to do what you can to reduce conflict and achieve an outcome that is favorable for those involved, if you can. Please remember, this is no substitute for legal assistance.