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Estate Planning in Blended Families

Trusts, wills, beneficiaries and fiduciaries are terms that are avoided because they question our mortality.  Some even believe their assets are not important after death.  In many cases, death is just the beginning of a long process for families, especially blended families.

As the old adage says “we don’t know what tomorrow may bring.”  Take the time to discuss your will/trust with an attorney that specializes in Estate Planning.  Many people wait until they become terminally ill to put a will and/or trust in place and some miss the opportunity altogether due to unexpected death.

A trust is a document that generally becomes effective during life whereas a will only becomes effective after death.

A will and/or trust is the best way to designate the beneficiaries of your inheritance.  An Estate Planning attorney will provide options based upon your situation as each financial and familial relationship is different.  States differ on the recognition of the fiduciary (person who takes care of the money from the estate).  An article in the January 2014 edition of the Florida Bar explains that Florida recognizes the surviving spouse as the fiduciary regardless if there are children from previous relationships.  In a familial situation that is already fractured, this can cause major trouble for family members.  To avoid this, the article suggests naming an independent fiduciary to alleviate the pressure and responsibility from the surviving spouse.  The independent fiduciary will make decisions based on the best interest of all parties involved.

Even in families with great relationships, money and things can turn people against each other.  In the case of items, find out from family members what they might want and include in your will and/or trust.  Try to resolve any conflict if more than one person wants a particular item.  Once a decision has been made, explain to all the reason for your decision.  Moreover, families with minor children need to designate a guardianship for the children. Without a guardianship, custody battles have the potential to tear families apart.

A will and/or trust should be made with a sound mind and heart.  There is no substitute for planning before an unexpected event happens.  The greatest gift you can give your loved ones is the easiest distribution of your estate as possible.  Contact Ronald Luzim, experienced Estate Planning Attorney and Mediator, at his Coral Springs location.