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Estate planning for blended families takes finesse

Today's families take many different forms. Many families are comprised of stepparents, biological children and children from previous marriages. When it comes to estate planning for these situations, Arizona residents may need to approach the task with careful consideration.

While it is hoped that, when one dies, the surviving partner will ensure that both step and biological children will be provided for in the manner desired, life often plays out differently than imagined. In cases of blended families, things are seldom as picture-perfect as portrayed in television shows. Simply having a will in place will not ensure that a spouse won't attempt to disinherit a deceased spouse's children. However, a trust may be able to provide for all of one's heirs.

A trust that allows children to access some portion of assets after a parent dies may be a better alternative than waiting for both spouses to pass away. Conversely, a trust can also protect a spouse's inheritance before an estate is divided among children. In addition to establishing the trusts, it is important to select a trustee who can ensure that instructions are followed in the manner dictated. Furthermore, when setting up these plans, it is recommended that one carefully choose who will make important health care decisions should one become incapacitated. Though it is not a pleasant thought, it is possible that either a spouse or an adult child could deny the other party access to information in these difficult decisions.

In spite of the best of intentions, when a spouse dies, the relationship between remaining step family members may fall apart. If a surviving spouse remarries, then a trust becomes even more important when it comes to providing for children. Arizona residents who are preparing to begin the process of estate planning may seek the input of an experienced attorney in order to select the tools that will best suit the situation.

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