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Tips for trust planning in nontraditional families

Blended families, unmarried couples and other nontraditional family arrangements can cause additional complications when it comes to estate planning. Florida families who do not follow the traditional structure of a mother, a father and their children may want to consider a trust as well as some additional provisions to address these complexities.

First, they may want to decide how involved they want the family to be in the estate planning process and what that involvement might look like. For some families, this could be having small meetings. Other families may want to consider bringing in a psychologist.

Some people may be given what is known as powers of appointment. This is the ability to decide where the trust principle goes, but these powers need to be carefully created and limited as necessary. A trust protector could be appointed to oversee and even remove a trustee if necessary. In some families, a flexible distribution option may work better than a traditional one. Traditionally, one person would receive distributions until death, when the remainder would then be distributed. Instead, an institutional trustee could be given the discretion to make distributions. Decanting provisions may also give needed flexibility to alter a trust as needed. Another possibility is allowing one person to add beneficiaries.

Sometimes, particularly with complex estate plans, a person has one intention in mind, but the estate planning documents can be interpreted in more than one way. However, in other cases, people may be concerned about allowing family members this degree of flexibility. Some types of trusts allow the creator to be very specific about how and when a beneficiary will receive distributions. For example, if a beneficiary is irresponsible with money because of an addiction or for some other reason, conditions could be attached to distributions, or distributions could be at the discretion of a trustee.

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