On its face, estate planning may seem relatively simple. However, the estate plan that you need to truly suit your needs may be more complicated then you think. This shouldn’t deter you from creating an estate plan, of course. After all, as we’ve discussed previously on this blog, intestate succession can be a dangerous path for your estate and your loved ones. But we also understand that the confusion created by estate planning can be frustrating. That’s why we’re here for our clients when they need us.
Estate planning in a blended family
If there’s one thing that intestate succession shows us it’s that those who are part of a blended family have to be careful in how they develop their estate plan. After all, those who are in this situation and choose to leave their assets in the hands of intestate succession could be leaving their biological children in the lurch.
So what’s the best way to engage in estate planning when you’re in a blended family? Well, a lot of that depends on what you ultimately want. However, one commonly utilized tactic is to leave assets to a spouse through a remainder trust. Here, your individual assets are passed on to your surviving spouse with the expectation that he or she will receive routine payments from the trust, but that anything remaining in the trust at the time of your spouse’s passing will then be distributed to a named beneficiary, such as your biological children. This is a great way to provide for your spouse and his or her children, while at the same time protecting the interests of your biological children.
Don’t overlook the incentive trust
Another way to control your estate for years or even decades to come is to utilize incentive trusts. These trusts allow named beneficiaries to receive payments and/or full release of trust assets upon compliance with named conditions. For example, your trust may allow for minimal payments to your child with all assets being released to him or her upon marriage or the birth of his or her first child.
Incentive trusts can control behavior to a great extent. This can help motivate loved ones to graduate college, maintain employment, and even complete substance abuse treatment. This can drive your loved one to improve his or her life while also ensuring that the assets that you’ve worked so hard to build up won’t be squandered away.
The future of your estate is in your hands
A lot of people feel powerless when it comes to estate planning. That’s simply because they’re unsure of the law and how it applies to their circumstances. The truth of the matter, though, is that the estate planning process is entirely customizable to suit your needs. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want. What’s important is to keep in mind what you want for the future and for your loved ones. Then, with the assistance of a qualified legal team, like the one at our firm, you can work to develop the estate plan that is right for you while ensuring that your legal documents are valid and protected from some of the common pitfalls that estate planners face.
We know it’s hard to think about leaving your family. But let a firm like ours help you get your affairs in order. We think that you’ll find that it will lift a burden from your shoulders and give you peace of mind knowing that you can still have an impact on the lives of those you love for a long time to come.