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The estate planning tradition may benefit nontraditional families

Feb. 6, 2019

All California families have unique aspects. Some are considered traditional with a first-time married couple who have a few kids. Of course, these days, it is more likely that families do not stick to tradition. In fact, some parents may be married for the second or subsequent time, and children from different relationships may play major roles. While blended families can be just as loving, issues could arise if those familial relationships are not accounted for during estate planning.

Unfortunately, even when the relationships are not necessarily bad, rifts can arise between stepparents and stepchildren after a biological parent’s death. The kids may feel that they should inherit the majority of their parent’s assets or may feel that a stepparent coerced a biological parent into favoring him or her more than the children. In efforts to reduce the chances of such conflicts, individuals may want to utilize certain planning tools.

Many parents want to protect the inheritances of their children after marrying again, and using trusts can often help with that protection. A spouse may have a marital trust that can address how certain assets and benefits should pass to him or her, and separate trusts could be created for the benefit of the children. Of course, the choices made and terms of such trusts can differ from family to family.

A number of California residents do not adhere to the notion of tradition, and their personal lives and family arrangements may reflect that. Still, it is important to consider the tradition of estate planning in order to protect assets and family members. Interested individuals can discuss their various planning options with knowledgeable attorneys.