Estate planning strategies for a blended family

Remarriages and blended families are common in Georgia, but many of those involved are unaware of how to deal with pitfalls in finances and the law. The management of an estate and and naming of beneficiaries, as well as decisions about how and when to make assets available to those beneficiaries, are made more complicated by multiple marriages. There are some key areas that require attention and strategies for ensuring assets end up in the right hands.

One of the critical issues is inheritances for children from a previous marriage. Wills may state that these children are to receive assets of some type, yet the surviving spouse may still be first in line to receive those jointly-owned assets. One way to sidestep this problem is with the use of trusts. Money, real property and other assets can be placed in a trust that disburses to beneficiaries after, or even before, death.

Another common issue regards financial planning for remarriage after the death of one spouse. Though not romantic, establishing a trust vehicle to protect assets for the couple's children in case of a later remarriage can protect their interests. The legal steps of estate planning can also dissuade costly litigation between family members.

The treatment of non-marital and jointly owned assets in Georgia is made more complicated by divorce and remarriage. Spouses who wish to protect their children from a previous marriage or protect their current spouse's access to non-marital property may have several options available. Estate planning tools can protect property for all beneficiaries, as well as help to avoid probate, reduce estate tax and provide long term care planning in case of incapacity. An experienced attorney can examine specific circumstances and provide advice on the best methods of protection.

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