Expecting and new parents have a lot on their minds and estate planning should be among them. From the anticipation of the arrival of their baby to the sleepless nights with a newborn, becoming a new parent carries new responsibilities. A Last Will and Testament is the only legal way to designate a guardian for your minor child(ren). If you do not have a Will that designates the person whom you desire to be your child’s guardian in the event that something happens to you and your spouse, the court will appoint a guardian. You run the risk that grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and/or friends may be fighting over this appointment and creating ill feelings among the very people that your little one will need to rely on. Worse yet, the Court may appoint an independent guardian who doesn’t even know your child.
New York law prohibits a child under the age of 18 years from directly inheriting and controlling money and/or property. The guardian will manage the money and/or property until the child attains the age of 18, when he/she becomes a legal “adult.” Without meaning to disparage your favorite 18-year old, “adult” is not usually the first word that we think of to describe them! Moreover, once your minor beneficiary reaches the age of 18, he/she attains complete control over their inherited assets. Even the most responsible 18-year old would be devastated by the impact of losing one or both parents and may suffer emotional setbacks and even regress to the point of fiscal irresponsibility. It is usually preferable to delay control over the assets for some time, which can be accomplished by the terms of a well- crafted Will, so that your minor beneficiary does not receive their inheritance in a lump sum at the age of 18.
These are just some of the reasons Berwitz & DiTata LLP has developed a special program for new parents whereby we offer services at a discounted rate. We strongly encourage all families to implement Last Wills and Testaments when they have a minor child.