Berman & Asbel, LLP

Creating an estate plan for a blended family

Estate planning may be important for all adults in Pennsylvania; however, it can be even more vital for people in blended families. Such estate holders may want to protect both children from a previous marriage, a current spouse and any children from a new relationship. Beneficiary designations may be out of date and list a former spouse or only include children from the previous relationship. If instructions in a will conflict with beneficiary designations, the beneficiary designation is generally considered to override the will.

A prenuptial agreement may help ensure that the assets each person brings into the marriage remain theirs. These assets can then be passed down to children from the prior marriage.

A person might want to consider creating a living trust if they want greater control over how their assets will be distributed. For example, they could place their assets in the trust for their current spouse. After that spouse dies, distributions might then go to the person's children from the previous relationship. One potential disadvantage to this arrangement could arise if a family member, particularly the spouse or the children, are chosen as trustees. This could lead to managing the trust to the disadvantage of other beneficiaries. A better solution might be to hire a professional to act as a trustee.

Trusts may be effective tools in a variety of other circumstances as well. A person might want to place their home in a trust so that beneficiaries pay less tax on it. If one child is not responsible with money, a trust can manage how and when they receive bequeathed assets.

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