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Estate planning around a recalcitrant spouse

Crafting an estate plan in New York can be difficult if one is married and the spouse does not want to participate in the planning process. However, steps can still be taken to protect beneficiaries. Beyond convincing the partner with numbers and outcomes of insufficient planning, heirs can still benefit from an accurate accounting of assets and a more limited plan governing personal property.

One of the central issues with modern families and wills is that families can change dramatically. Divorces, remarriages and stepchildren add new dimensions of complexity to the need to provide for all heirs and reduce the risk of litigation. Optimally, both spouses will work to address these issues and update wills as necessary. In the absence of this, one spouse can still draft estate planning documents on their own behalf. These might include a health and financial power of attorney document. An estate holder can also designate heirs for a limited set of property labeled personal.

The estate plan serves the goal of documenting property and naming beneficiaries in a way that reduces tax burdens and the risks of litigation after death. This goal can still be partly served by one spouse creating an inventory of separate and jointly held assets.

Following the loss of a loved one, heirs can experience grief and a range of other emotions. Besides making it difficult to focus on finances, the emotional upheaval can lead to angry infighting and unscrupulous people taking advantage of one's family. An experienced attorney can help tailor the estate planning process to the needs of the individual and their current situation with consideration of heirs of a previous marriage, tax burdens on transfer of assets, guardianship of minors and many other potential needs.

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