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Breaking tradition for blended Fullerton families

Blended families break tradition by definition. In the past, most married couples tried to stay together despite serious marital differences. The reason most often cited by those couples for staying together was that they were doing it for their children.

Today, Fullerton parents are more likely than ever to leave an unhappy marriage and restart their lives with a new partner; in many cases, with another single parent. However, while blended families dispense with some dubious traditions, they often find that new problems arise. One example of an issue some blended families struggle with is estate planning.

A recent article on estate planning for blended families made an excellent point: those couples first need to talk about and create goals they have for passing on their wealth. Then they need to find "a professional (who) can assist in determining how best to accomplish those goals."

One way of protecting assets and children is by creation of a trust that simultaneously provides for a spouse and protects children.

Another legal tool an estate planning attorney might suggest: a prenuptial agreement. With such a document, the two halves of a married couple can keep many of their assets separate, enabling them to pass those assets on separately.

In other cases, a couple might opt to create wills in which they each leave all assets to the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse then distributes the remaining assets when he or she passes.

Of course, an experienced attorney will make it clear to both that the surviving spouse will be free to alter their will as they see fit.

In some cases, a surviving spouse might disinherit the children from the deceased spouse's previous marriage. In other cases, a surviving spouse might incur medical costs or long-term care expenses that drain assets.

All of these possibilities, and much more, are considered and accounted for in careful estate planning with an experienced attorney.

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette, "Estate planning for blended families," Carissa Giebel, Jan. 27, 2014

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