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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Family Play

The unique nature of a blended family – that is, a family where one or both spouses have children from a previous marriage – necessitates careful estate planning. With a number of potentially difficult dynamics at play, the trustors (the creators of the trust) must carefully address issues such as difficult interpersonal relationships and planning for the entire family at death.  Even when relationships are harmonious amongst the spouses and the children – mutual children and children from prior marriages – estate planning is still vital. Many questions remain for the trustors, including:

  • At the passing of the first spouse, will all the assets be left to the new spouse? Or will only a portion be left to the spouse?
  • Will some of the assets be left to the prior children at the death of their parent, with the remainder to the surviving spouse?
  • Will children of the prior marriage be treated the same as children from the current marriage in the trust?
  • How will the distributions be left to the children? Outright or discretionary?
  • Can life insurance be purchased to provide for children of the prior marriage at the death of the parent?

Needless to say, these questions don’t even scratch the surface of issues that may exist if relationships are strained between the spouses and the children, or if there is a large disparity between ages of the children in the marriage. Further, planning can become even more complex if there is separate property brought into the marriage by both spouses. But, there is good news – there are many different planning options that exist to provide for the children and spouses in blended families. Estate planning for blended families can take many different shapes and sizes depending on the individual factors of the married couple and the children involved, so if you are considering estate planning after becoming remarried, we highly suggest that you meet with our team of lawyers to determine which options may best suit your family’s specific needs.

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