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Love is what makes a family, whether by choice or genetics. Yet, as the numbers of blended families in the U. S. continue to grow, so do the challenges they face. Regardless of how your blended family came about, it's critical to update your estate plan to reflect your wishes and ensure your beneficiaries' rights and interests are protected. Our wills and trusts lawyers at Giro & Associates, LLC find creative solutions to help blended families overcome hurdles and create estate plans that keep the needs of all family members in mind.
Whether you're recently remarried or considering it, the sooner you and your partner discuss and create a new estate plan, the better. When one or both spouses have children from previous relationships, you should address certain legal issues immediately. For example, if you fail to create a new will and pass away unexpectedly, an ex-spouse could end up being in charge of managing your minor children's inheritance. In some situations, this can work, but it's best to be proactive about protecting your children's financial future.
Depending on the laws of your state, you could also unintentionally disinherit your children if you die without an updated estate plan. Our experienced River Edge estate planning lawyers comprehensively evaluate your finances and family situation and help you find practical solutions that help minimize family conflict and ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
There are several ways to prevent your children and spouse from having to deal with inheritance problems after you're gone. A well-crafted will that considers potential future scenarios can go a long way to avert disputes following your death. A few other solutions that may be helpful include:
Our family law attorneys and estate planning lawyers work collaboratively to help families find options that fit their unique needs.
New Jersey trusts attorneys sometimes recommend that those with blended families set up an AB trust. An AB trust is a revocable living trust set up while both spouses are alive. However, one of the stipulations of the trust is that upon the death of the first spouse, two trusts must be created: Trust A and Trust B.
Sometimes known as a marital trust or Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP), Trust A holds the surviving spouse's half of any community property and all their individually owned assets. Trust B contains all of the deceased person's separate assets and their half of the community property from the marriage. The surviving spouse cannot make any changes to either trust or add additional beneficiaries.
An AB trust is an effective way to provide for a surviving spouse while ensuring your assets are distributed to the beneficiaries of your choice. AB trusts can also offer significant tax advantages for surviving spouses.
Appointing a neutral party as a trustee can help reduce family conflict and stress. When setting up any kind of trust in a blended family, it's usually a good idea to choose a professional to be a trustee or fiduciary. This can be an accountant, financial advisor, New Jersey trust administration attorney, trust company or another qualified professional.
This type of trust is explicitly made for proceeds of life insurance policies. Upon your death, any proceeds from life insurance policies you specify are placed in the trust and are distributed to the beneficiaries you named when the trust was created.
One major advantage of both irrevocable trusts is that their assets are not subject to probate. This can help your loved ones avoid the often complex probate process at an already difficult time.
Another vital issue that should be addressed when updating an estate plan is revoking existing powers of attorney and creating new ones. For example, if you want your new spouse to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated, it's essential to create a new healthcare proxy or power of attorney for health care and designate them as your agent.
Make sure to update and discuss your advance directive as well. You want your new spouse to be fully aware of your specific preferences for medical care, and it's also best to discuss end-of-life options. This may include life-sustaining measures like a ventilator, CPR, a feeding tube, hydration, and comfort care such as pain medications.
Although these are challenging subjects to broach, discussing your wishes with your adult children is also a good idea. For example, if you're injured in an accident or suffer a serious illness that leaves you unable to make your own choices, your children or spouse may each believe that the other doesn't have your best interests in mind. Unfortunately, these types of misunderstandings can result in serious conflict and even lead to litigation.
At Giro & Associates, LLC, we care about our clients and their families. Our dedicated attorneys and staff approach estate planning and family law matters with compassion and empathy while providing exceptional legal representation you can trust.
Dealing with the emotionally charged issues that may arise in blended families can be challenging, but you don't have to go it alone. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers and family law attorneys are here for you every step of the way. To schedule a consultation, contact us today. We serve families in River Edge, NJ and surrounding areas.
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