Blended families bring unique challenges to wealth, retirement, financial and estate planning. Divorce decrees, second families, new in-laws, stepchildren and a whole new clan are some of the issues to address. Using experienced counsel can ensure your wishes are honored and family disputes after your death are minimized. Some of the planning tools available for blended family planning include:
- Will. The ultimate planning document and the final backstop to ensure your wishes are honored. While there are formalities, it can be changed by codicil or replaced when your wishes or situation change.
- Living Trusts. They hold your assets during life and direct their transfer on death. You or a successor trustee control them and they are easily amended by you.
- Transfers on Death/Designated Beneficiaries. Many assets and accounts can or have a designated transferee or beneficiary on death, including TOD deeds you can amend.
- Joint Ownership with Survivorship. These accounts and assets will pass automatically to the surviving joint owner(s) on your death.
- Pre-Nuptial Agreements. They protect, separate, and direct the transfer of and rights to the spouses’ assets during and after a marriage.
- Powers of Attorney. They designate a person to act on your behalf or with you for healthcare, property, or other decisions.
- Living Will. This directs your agent on your end of life wishes.
- Retirement Plan and IRA. These usually have easily amended beneficiary or transferee designations on death.
- Q-Tip Trust. A qualified terminable income trust usually entitles the surviving spouse to the trust income during life with the principal to pass on death to the beneficiaries.
- Life Insurance. Not only provides a benefit to the beneficiary, but it may be used to provide liquidly for taxes and debts, sparing liquidation of other estate assets.
While probate is the legal process by which a court supervises the collection and distribution of a decedent’s estate, proper planning may allow the faster, less expensive and more private resolution of a decedent’s estate using these and other planning tools.
Please contact us with any questions or issues.