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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

Despite what we would all like to believe, it is not uncommon for one or both parents to be estranged from a child. As the saying goes, you cannot choose your family. Sometimes people simply don’t get along, and that can breed more problems that eat away at the family tree.

When it comes time to create or update an estate plan, some parents question just how to handle their estranged child in their documents. Here are some considerations.

Navigating estrangement and inheritance

  • Mediation. You have likely considered mediation or some form of family counseling, you may have even tried it in the past. Before making any decisions about inheritance, it is wise to work with a trained counselor.
  • Partial inheritance. Some parents decide that dividing an inheritance equally among beneficiaries is unfair. In those cases, an inheritance can be divided however you see fit. If one beneficiary will receive less, it is important to include the proper “no contest” language.
  • Total inheritance. Despite best efforts, reconciliation is not always possible. Still, some parents will choose to leave the estranged child in the will, in equal amounts to avoid creating problems for loved ones left behind.
  • Total disinheritance. A decision to disinherit a child over the age of eighteen is within your rights. However, it requires finesse. The ramifications of such a drastic decision can often be felt for generations. An attorney well-versed in estate planning can help you walk through the common obstacles and help you move on.

Estate planning is all about your protecting loved ones. Sometimes, the people you love need protecting from themselves. Sometimes the people that you love need protecting from your estranged child. Regardless of circumstances, the decision of who to include in your estate plan is up to you. Remember that there is always someone here to help.

Technically, people should not need an incentive to make their alimony payments and to make them on time. They’re legally obligated to do so by the court order. That’s all the incentive they need.

However, some experts are worried that recent changes to the law could make people less likely to pay.

One advantage of paying alimony, in previous years, was that you could write it off as a deduction on your taxes. So, while you didn’t get that money, you at least could reduce what you paid in taxes. It was something of a benefit, as your ex covered the cost when reporting that alimony as taxable income.

The law has now been flipped around. Your ex will not have to report it and pay taxes, and you cannot use it as a deduction. This means you pay everyone — first the government and then your ex. It all comes out of your pocket. That’s why one expert said:

“There is no incentive to pay alimony now. It’s really all just money out of the pocket for the payer … [it’s] harder to encourage that when you have no benefit to exchange.”

Again, while people do not need an incentive, they may now feel that alimony payments are very unfair and that the system is stacked against them. That could lead to some problems and an increase in legal disputes.

No matter which side of this equation you’re on, you need to know how these changes to the law are going to impact your rights and obligations after a divorce.

The idea of an inheritance is fairly universal, and most people you ask may say that they expect to get one someday. However, one survey showed that is not the case at all, as most of the people who responded had never gotten one.

In the survey, a mere 22.5 percent of people claimed they had been given an inheritance.

Now, there is one big thing to note here: Some of the people who responded may not have gotten an inheritance yet, but that does not mean they never did or never will. Perhaps they were simply young enough that their parents were still alive. While they technically did not have anything when the survey was given out, they could still get it in the future.

That’s important to note because, as you may expect, parents are the ones handing out inheritances in the vast majority of cases. Here are a few notable people who give inheritances, along with the percentage of cases they represent:

  • Parents: 75 percent
  • Grandparents: 15 percent
  • Aunts and uncles: 6 percent
  • Friends: 2 percent
  • Siblings: 1 percent

Even among these, not all inheritances are equal. For instance, the average amount of money that people get from their parents tends to be double what they get from their grandparents. This could, of course, be because the grandparents leave most of their money to their own children, which then gets passed on to the next generation at a later date.

No matter where you fit into this, if you are planning to leave an inheritance to your family, be sure you know what legal steps to take and how to draft an estate plan that accomplishes your main goals.

Some couples have a very hard time talking about getting a prenuptial agreement. They find it stressful and awkward. Maybe you do not even know how to get the conversation started.

One thing that helps is to understand exactly why you want it. When you can explain this to your spouse, it makes things far easier. It also breaks down the misconception that you already expect the marriage to fail.

For instance, perhaps you just do not know what your spouse wants in the future. Experts point out that talking about a prenup helps you talk about things like career goals and financial goals. This is a valuable conversation for a couple to have, and it can even make your marriage stronger.

Or, maybe your own parents split up when you were a teen. You saw how complicated and difficult it was for them. You do not want the prenup because you think your own marriage will fail; you just want it because, if something happens, you want the experience to be a lot smoother than it was for your parents.

Finally, you may just want to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to money. If you like to save and they like to spend, it can make your marriage difficult. Starting to talk about your financial preferences while creating a prenup opens the door to some valuable conversations.

It is important to remember that prenups are not always as negative as people assume. Make sure you know exactly what legal steps to take if you want to set one up.