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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate Planning for Blended Families Blog

Making an estate plan can be complicated. Now imagine a blended family – think Brady Bunch – making an estate plan. This means double the trouble, more opinions than necessary – add a smidge of hurt feelings, a dash of pride, a boatload of drama and voila! The perfect recipe for disaster! But… it doesn’t have to be this way. Discover the common problems that blended families face when creating an estate plan, and how to avoid them. Learn about pitfalls for the unwary and warnings even the most straightforward families should heed.

To help us out, we’ll revisit the Brady Bunch. A quick recap: Mom, Carol has three daughters from her first marriage. Carol marries Mike who has three sons from his first marriage. Now let’s say Mike and Carol decide to set up an estate plan. One of the chief worries parents like them face is deciding how to care for the surviving spouse and their own children. What if Carol brought more assets into the marriage and Mike depends on her financially? Should Carol leave her assets to Mike after she’s gone or to her daughters? Could Mike remarry for a third time and leave Carol’s daughters in the dust? And who would manage the trust for the family? What if Mike and Carol each named their eldest child to serve together because they thought ‘they get along just fine’ but in reality they can’t stand each other?

Planning for blended families involve balancing a lot of interests, goals and feelings. This is a good opportunity to warn the unwary that not all attorneys take into account the small – but very important – details that can make or break an estate plan. In a family like the Brady Bunch, it’s rough trying to negotiate their estate plan in a way that will satisfy everyone.

So don’t.

An estate plan is about your wishes. Sometimes what you and your spouse want won’t sit well with kids – but that’s okay. An experienced and engaged estate-planning attorney will be able to point out the pitfalls of the path you choose. He or she can see some of the repercussions of your actions even if you can’t and help you navigate the channels of your circumstance and family.

The moral of the story?

DO NOT assume your family ‘will be fine’ or ‘can deal with it’ after you’re gone.

DO NOT wait. When you need an estate plan, it’s often already too late to create one.

DO NOT think all lawyers are the same. You wouldn’t ask a urologist to perform brain surgery, would you?

DO book a complimentary phone call with Goldfarb & Luu to discuss your family (800) 489-1984. Over 90% of the estate plans our clients bring us to review have a fatal flaw and most of them are unknown to the client.