Critical Estate Planning for Modern Families

The rise in the number of divorcees in New York as well as the rest of the country has led to a larger amount of blended families. While similar in many ways to traditional families, blended families face some unique estate planning challenges. This article reviews some of the most important issues that blended families should consider when tackling estate planning


# 1 – Divorce Agreements


Your estate plan should reflect any applicable terms of your divorce agreement. This might mean including statements to provide for your former spouse or making sure that your children are sufficiently provided for following your death. 


# 2 – Estate Plans


It’s critical to create estate planning documents. If you pass away without a Last Will and Testament, New York probate law will determine how your assets are distributed. If you already have children before entering into a blended family, any former spouses, as well as children, will likely inherit part of what you own.


# 3 – Family Dynamics


Family relationships are often unpredictable and can be hard to navigate. You might discover that your children have a good relationship with their stepparent, but such a relationship can erode over time. You must make sure to consider family dynamics when creating or revising an estate plan to make sure that your interests are achieved. 


# 4 – Independent Fiduciaries


Family dynamics can be challenging to navigate. This extends past the disposition of assets and also applies to the appointment of fiduciaries. To reduce potential conflict between a surviving spouse and biological children, it might be wise to name your spouse and child as personal representatives of your estate and trustees if you have a trust. Otherwise, you might decide to name an independent person to act as your personal representative and trustee. An independent fiduciary can help to minimize potential conflict by approaching situations in an unbiased manner. 


# 5 – Revising Estate Plans


Wills as well as revocable trusts are often used in estate planning and can be revised provided the creator is still alive. You and your spouse might decide following a surviving spouse’s death that you want to treat your children equally. After the first spouse passes away, nothing blocks the surviving spouse from modifying their estate plan.  Fortunately, it’s possible to create an estate plan that guards your children’s interest in case you pass away before your spouse does.  


# 6 – Prenuptial Agreements


Prenuptial agreements are entered into before marriage and address how assets are handled in case you later divorce. Similar to prenuptial agreements are postnuptial agreements, which are similar documents only executed after you’ve entered into a marriage. These documents help to protect your assets as well as those of your family. If you enter into one of these types of agreements, you must make sure that your estate planning documents comply with terms. 


Speak with a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney


Blended families must consider various issues when estate planning. It’s a good idea to discuss your estate planning goals with an experienced attorney to make sure that your documents will fully achieve your wishes. To obtain the assistance of a skilled estate planning attorney, contact Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation. 

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