Firm News - Leitner Law

Yours, Mine & Ours: Estate Planning for Blended Families

Posted by Attorney David Leitner on Jun 21, 2013 5:00pm PDT

According to USA Today and a Pew Research Center study, more than half of all first marriages end in divorce, 75% of divorced individuals remarry, and 65% of these unions include children from previous marriages. Over all, more than 40% of American adults have at least one step-relative.

While estate planning is already an extremely complex area of law, the intricacies only multiply when a blended family is involved. A blended family has been defined as "a family that includes children of a previous marriage of one spouse or both."

If you are in this boat and wish to craft an effective estate plan that would protect your loved ones, it is imperative you hire an experienced Des Moines estate planning attorney immediately. In this instance, failing to secure legal assistance has one outcome: disaster. The USA Today article went on to say that one man said he was afraid that his step-children (who hadn't been welcoming of him) would inherit all of his assets and his children would be left with nothing. As a result, he has taken to estate planning on his own which has infuriated and offended his wife.

In these situations it is not uncommon for one or more of the parents to wish to exclude some of the children. It is also not uncommon for spouses to disagree on what to do: one may want to benefit only his/her children while the other may want to provide for all the children. At other times, both parents may wish to benefit all the children.

Whether or not all the children are included in an estate plan, one or more children could receive a greater percentage of the inheritance than the others. You need to be informed of what factors apply to your circumstances; some couples wish that some or all of a deceased spouse's property goes to their children at the time of the spouse's death, as opposed to after the other spouse passes away. Some individuals want to place their assets in a joint trust, while others wish to keep their assets separate.

Are you in this situation? Allow me to make a complex situation a lot easier on you! At Leitner Law, I will advise you of all of your options and keep you fully informed about the relevant estate planning laws in Iowa. You will want to receive the necessary counsel, plan to update the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement accounts, and think through the tax consequences, among other things. Sometimes it is wise to have a joint trust and a separate trust, but I can advise you about what is most likely best for your particular situation. When you come to Leitner Law, you will not be given cookie-cutter advice, but rather a plan that is tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Looking into estate planning? Save yourself additional stress by not doing it on your own. While hiring an estate planning attorney to handle your estate plan is a wise move for any individual, it is especially crucial for blended families. Don't allow your child to be left in the dust! Don't allow conflict to erupt between you and your spouse! Securing the legal assistance of a seasoned estate planning attorney is necessary for your family's future and your peace of mind.

Have more control over how your legacy is distributed and guarantee your assets are passed onto your children in a fair and timely manner! I, Attorney David Leitner, have more than 33 years of legal experience I can put to work in your case today. Contact me now for your consultation at (515) 992-2721!