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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Estate planning in New York and New Jersey has changed dramatically over the years as traditional estate planning doesn’t meet the needs of many of today’s modern, blended families.

For example, in the 1950s, when divorce rates were lower, the “standard” estate plan might have had each spouse leaving everything to the other and then the surviving spouse leaving everything to the couple’s children. But today, life is more complex and only “one-third of American households are ‘traditional’ (heterosexual, married, with children)”.

The two-thirds of today’s so-called nontraditional families bring unique challenges and considerations to estate planning. Some of the more modern estate planning considerations involve planning for LGBT singles and couples (as well as their children). In addition, assisted reproductive technologies and family-making treatments like in vitro fertilization may present individuals and couples with frozen embryos which may become relevant in their estate planning and/or divorces.

Further, the very common practice of couples marrying, having children, divorcing and re-marrying another with whom they then have additional children often presents other unique challenges to their estate planning. In such situations, living trusts are often a useful tool in addition to having a will.

When people have children with multiple partners, whether married or not, it can also complicate the estate administration if they die without leaving a trust or a will. That is because it can become more difficult to trace the decedent’s family tree to determine all those who may be entitled to a share of the estate under the state’s intestacy statutes.

It’s important to consult with an estate planning attorney whenever there’s been a change in your life’s circumstances through such events as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of children, deaths of certain relatives, business or financial changes, and more.

If you need assistance with an initial estate plan, or would like to modify an existing one, the trust and estate planning experts at Merlino & Gonzalez can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in Staten Island, New York and East Brunswick, New Jersey, we represent clients in both states in all aspects of estate planning and administration as well as real estate law.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.