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Long-term married couples and estate plans

Situations in which long-term married couples die with a short time period of one another bring up a number of estate planning issues. Couples in New York who have been married for a long time should be aware that it can make the administration of their estate more difficult for surviving loved ones. The way the estate has to be handled will depend on the time in between the deaths of the spouses and their specific estate plan details.

In many cases, the wills and trusts in estate plans will include survivorship provisions that require the surviving spouse to remain alive a certain amount of time. If a spouse passes with within a certain period, like within three weeks, the death may be considered as predeceasing the other spouse, which can have certain consequences according the estate planning documents. In lieu of processing the two estates one after the other, the estate administration process can be more simplified.

In situations in which there is a larger time gap, such as several months , between the deaths of longtime spouses, having a strong estate plan in place can be very helpful. Moving quickly may be key to taking advantage of having the estate being handled a certain way.

An estate planning attorney may advise clients about what legal documents should be included in their estate plans to ensure that their assets are handled according to their wishes after they die. The attorney may assist married couples with developing an estate plan that protects the welfare of a surviving spouse and preserve certain assets. Assistance may be provided with drafting wills and provisions of trusts. Legal counsel may be offered regarding which types of trust, such as irrevocable, living or special needs trusts, may be most appropriate for the financial goals of clients.

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