Trusts for Blended Families

A blended family is one that includes at least one spouse with a child or children from a prior marriage. The structure of a blended family can vary greatly and can include a husband with his own children, a wife with her own children, and even children born to the husband and wife together. In these situations, where individuals each have assets that they have brought to the marriage, they typically want to both provide for their spouse’s needs and ensure that their assets will ultimately go to their children. Without a detailed estate plan, a surviving spouse can easily disinherit whoever he or she chooses, including the deceased spouse’s children. To guarantee that what you want to happen with your assets will actually happen when you pass away, it is imperative to establish a plan ahead of time. Assuming your family will “work it out” after your death is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, letting the courts determine how your assets will be distributed can be very difficult for the family and loved ones. If you want to provide for your spouse and your children, particularly when your spouse is not the parent of your children, you may want to structure your estate plan so that assets are left in trust for them after your death. Not doing so can create a tragic outcome.

A married couple of a blended family could, for example, establish a joint trust that includes protection for the children and each spouse. This type of trust can provide great peace of mind in later years and eliminate hard feelings and strife within your family.

Example: Scott and Allyson have both been married before and each had two children from prior marriages. Scott brought significant assets into the marriage. To protect the surviving spouse and their respective children, and with the guidance of an estate planning attorney, Scot and Allyson established a comprehensive estate plan that included a trust. Both Scott and Allyson are designated income beneficiaries of the trust. Upon Scott’s death, Allyson becomes the sole income beneficiary of the trust and she can use the principal of the trust for her health, education, maintenance, and support. Upon Allyson’s death, the remaining trust assets will go to Scott’s children.

You will reap uncountable benefits in the long run if you have honest conversations with your spouse about your goals for the future and how you expect your assets to be distributed. If your children are adults, it may be advantageous to include them in the conversations so everyone knows what to expect. Blended families are very diverse and estate planning for blended families can be complicated. It is beneficial to obtain guidance from an estate planning attorney who specializes in these practices to ensure that, upon your death, your assets are distributed according to your desires.

 

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Jacob Wooley, a partner and estate planning attorney with Thomas Walters, PLLC, is ready to guide you through the complex world of estate planning. If you would like to meet Jacob and learn more about how best to protect yourself and your legacy, call 682-422-3495 to schedule your free, one-hour estate planning consultation.

Jacob Wooley

Jacob K. Wooley, PLLC, 1703 Fountainview Drive, Mansfield, TX, 76063

Jacob Wooley is an estate planning attorney serving the Central Dallas/Fort Worth area. He attended the University of Arkansas for his undergraduate degree. He then graduated from Mississippi College School of Law, and is licensed to practice in Arkansas and Texas. His practice experience with businesses and families allow him to address a wide range of estate planning issues. Jacob’s focus is helping clients develop a comprehensive plan that gives them peace of mind knowing their affairs are in order. His law firm’s unique Lifetime Lawyer Program ensures that your estate planning program remains current through future life and law changes.