Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families

Estate planning is necessary at every major life milestone: birth, marriage, death of a beneficiary, divorce and remarriage. For blended families, there are special issues to consider to ensure that children, as well as the new spouse, are properly cared for.  If documents are incorrectly drafted, the situation can become especially complicated. Bearing in mind the needs of a new blended family, consider the following common scenario: 

Daniel (age 65) has two children from a prior marriage, Marian (age 40) and Emily (age 38). His second wife Beatrice (age 68) has one child from a prior marriage, Eric (age 36). Daniel and Beatrice have simple wills leaving their entire estate to the other with contingent gifts to the three children in equal shares. Daniel passes away first, leaving his entire estate to Beatrice. Over time, Beatrice moves away to be with her child and changes her will, leaving everything to Eric. Marian and Emily are now completely cut out of Daniel’s estate and have virtually no legal recourse against either Beatrice or Eric. 

As you can see, this scenario is far from unimaginable, and could easily impact any blended family with children. 

One of the most common goals of a testator with a blended family is to ensure both children and the surviving spouse are adequately provided for – which can be accomplished through the use of a relatively simple trust. One option is known as a Qualified Terminable Income Property (Q-TIP) trust. This type of trust allows for a surviving spouse to access income from trust property for his or her lifetime, while preserving the corpus for the benefit of the grantor’s adult children. This arrangement is often accompanied by a no-contest clause to prevent children and heirs from objecting to the arrangement after the testator has passed away. 

If you are concerned about your estate and would like to ensure that your wishes are adequately addressed, please do not hesitate to contact the Arkansas estate planning attorneys at Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC, today: (501) 482-1787. 

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