Planning for Life

Why Estate Planning is More Interesting Than Ever

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 28, 2011

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By Harry S. Margolis

An article in The New York Times exemplifies the changes in families that has made estate planning both more complicated and more interesting than ever before. While the traditional Ozzie and Harriet family may have been less prevalent than portrayed in the 50s and 60s. the model no longer applies to most families today.  The Times article describes a single mom of an 18-month-old boy whose sperm donor is a close, gay friend in a long-term relationship with another man.

While the father had never intended to be a "dad" and didn't expect to do more than contribute his sperm, he has become inexorably drawn in to his son's life, spending time with him and sleeping over one night a week so the mom can have some time to herself.  Now he's spending four nights a week with his son.

It has become an unusual family that is still evolving.  Read the whole story by clicking here.

What the article doesn't talk about is some of the estate planning challenges that these parents must now confront, including the following:

  • As a single mom, Carol, must plan for her child's future even more than most, since she is not sharing parenting with a spouse or significant other.  This means a will nominating a guardian, a trust for the child, and probably life insurance to fund the trust.  By the way, she's an older mom as well.
  • The dad must plan for his son as well as his partner.
  • The dad's partner may want to consider planning for the little boy as well.
  • All of these plans become more complicated since none involves the standard configuration of spouses and parents, and all are more likely to change over time.
  • And none of these plans can be produced with off-the-shelf forms from LegalZoom or another source.

Topics: Estate Planning, guardianship

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