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How estate planning can meet the needs of blended families

The approaching holidays mean social get-togethers for many readers with friends, family or loved ones. For some, such gatherings may include blended families, with children from a previous marriage.

If this type of blended family gathering makes for complicated holiday shopping, consider the ramifications in estate law. Married couples with children from previous relationships may want to ensure there is a safety net in place for all of their children, even if the children do not live in their new household. Perhaps a parent would like to create an inheritance for children from an earlier relationship using assets that he or she separately owned before remarrying. 

As readers might suspect, couples that have remarried might have different estate-planning goals arising from special family considerations. Fortunately, thoughtful estate planning can help ensure that children will be provided for, and that a designated trustee or guardian will make decisions for minor children if the natural parent becomes disabled or dies.

Perhaps an individual’s emphasis is on transferring the most money to heirs free of estate tax and then insulating that money from creditors. Other individuals may want to retain control over their finances and accounts during their lifetimes. A revocable trust may suit such individuals, offering the flexibility to move assets at will and accommodate changes in income and lifestyle factors. Perhaps a spendthrift trust document will specify a monthly distribution to beneficiaries, with additional authorizations in the case of an emergency. With the help of an attorney, remarried couples can survey options such as a comprehensive will, trust, powers of attorney and other legal solutions that will meet their respective concerns.

Source: The New York Times, “Focusing on the Human Element of Estate Planning,” Paul Sullivan, Nov. 7, 2014


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