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Living Trusts for Blended Families

November 21, 2018

Consider this scenario: Shortly after graduating from college, Ross and Carol get married. After having one son together, they divorce. Years later, Ross remarries and he and his new wife Rachel have a baby girl. Ross then passes away, leaving his entire estate to Rachel. When Rachel passes, Ross and Rachel’s daughter will inherit everything. But what about Ross and Carol’s son? What will he get?

The scenario above is one of the many complicated situations blended families face. Chances are, you or someone you know (or someone you watch on TV) is a part of a blended family – that is, a family where one or both spouses have children from a prior relationship. While once uncommon, the U.S. Census Bureau now estimates that blended families now outnumber traditional families.

For the 95.5 million divorced, widowed, and remarried Americans out there, blended families present many special challenges. What if you want to leave your grandmother’s wedding ring to your biological child, rather than your stepchild? What if you pass away and your spouse later leaves your assets to his or her children, rather than yours?

The simplest way to avoid these potential pitfalls is by creating an estate plan that specifically describes your wishes. This makes certain that your children are provided for in the manner that you choose while maintaining the peace in your family. Put aside some time to speak to your spouse about your estate planning goals, e.g., what you would like to happen to your assets (home, savings, car, jewelry, investments, family heirlooms, etc.).

Once you and your spouse have decided on an arrangement, formalize your plan with an attorney. Planning ahead not only provides peace of mind about what will happen to your assets once you’re gone, but also ensures that your loved ones are properly taken care of.