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Lombard estate planning lawyerThe number of remarriages has been gradually increasing over the past few decades. As a result, blended families have become more prevalent than ever before. Blended families face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning. If you are a part of a blended family or are remarried, read on to learn how estate planning can put you in control of your and your family’s future.

When a Relative Dies Without a Will

Although it can be a hard topic to discuss, it is crucial that blended families talk about estate planning together. Family arguments and other issues can arise when parents pass away without a will or trust to dictate how their property should be divided between children of different marriages. When someone dies without any estate plans, surviving family members are left to figure out inheritance dilemmas in probate court. This can be an incredible burden for a family to shoulder. Creating inheritance and estate plans now can give you peace of mind and a sense of control knowing that your family will not be forced to sort out your final affairs during an already challenging time.

Remarried Spouses Can Leave Assets to New Spouse as Well as Children

It is not uncommon for a parent to remarry later in life. Remarried couples may have children from previous marriages who they wish to ultimately leave their property to. However, a person who is remarried may also want to ensure that his or her new spouse will be financially secure if an unexpected death or incapacitation occurs. Through a comprehensive estate plan, you can decide exactly which family members will receive property and when they should receive it. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you find legal avenues to create a unique estate plan that meets you and your family’s specific needs.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning attorneyOne of the greatest things about our country is that we have the freedom to define what family means to us. Some families consist of only one mother or father, others are the classic nuclear family, while still others contain step-parents and stepsiblings, half brothers or sisters, or even adopted members. If you have a large blended family, there are special considerations you should keep in mind when it comes to estate planning.

Remarrying With Children

The number of remarriages has been increasing over the last several decades. In 2013, 40 percent of unions included at least one spouse who had previously been married, and many of these unions involve children. One consideration for large or blended families to think about is how a person’s assets will be distributed in the event that he or she passes away. It is vitally important if you remarry that you change your primary beneficiary from your former spouse as soon as possible. Another common mistake happens when a parent names their new spouse as the primary beneficiary and names their biological children from another marriage as contingent beneficiaries expecting that they will all receive a portion of his or her estate upon death. What instead happens is that the primary beneficiary receives all the assets and becomes free to share or not share them with the children. One possible solution to this is to name multiple primary beneficiaries who each receive a percentage of your estate.

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Posted on in Family Law

Lombard family law attorneysThe landscape of families in America is changing. The days of “Leave it to Beaver”-style nuclear families as the majority are largely behind us. Today, American families often include stepparents, stepsiblings, half-siblings, adopted children, single parents, or same-sex parents. Compared to previous generations, many more children are being raised by guardians or grandparents as well. 

A Look Inside the Numbers

A study from the University of Maryland’s Philip N. Cohen puts these changes into statistical perspective. For example, a household consisting of married parents in which the father worked outside of the home and the mother served as a homemaker accounted for 60 percent of families in 1960. Another 18 percent of families included married parents who both worked.

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Surviving the Holidays as a Blended Family Although many strive for a personal rendition of the idyllic Norman Rockwell holiday when the winter season comes, those facing the challenges of a blended family may only revisit feelings of loss, sadness and even anger, often emotions associated with a recent divorce or remarriage.

Noted professionals offer numerous suggestions to ease the tension between blended families during the holiday season.

Fran C. Dickson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University and featured contributor to Communications Currents, a publication of the National Communication Association, offers the following advice to blended families as means for exhibiting better behaviors throughout the holiday season.

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family, adoption, adopted children, biological children, Illinois family lawyerTwisting and turning through the daily challenges of blending the lives of your adopted and biological children can certainly add a few new ones along the way. One being the subject of how to discipline and keep your household functioning on an even keel. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, finding a healthy balance is essential. For parents in this situation there is a certain disconnect when it comes to disciplining a blended family dynamic. There is a tendency for parents to hesitate to discipline an adopted child while setting fewer limitations on their biological offspring. This situation may also hinge on whether your adopted child has behavioral issues due to underlying issues. Each of your children are unique. Following these simple suggestions may define the house rules for all involved and keep you from second guessing your decision to choose adoption to grow your biological family. House Rules Involve your children in the rulemaking process. Provide them the opportunity to set a few rules or provide input to the rules you have established. Just remember to define rules according to the individual child's age. You may notice that since they have participated in the process, they will accept the new rules with less conflict. Consequences Just as you provided your children the opportunity to set the rules, give them the same opportunity to define the possible consequences when the rules are broken. Once again, consequences should be age appropriate. Consistency As parents, you also need to remember not to deviate from the rules or consequences. The rules are the rules, no ifs, ands or buts! Giving in every once in a while will only tempt your children to test the limits. Seems easy, right? Perhaps easier said than done. As the ruling executive branch of the household how you discipline is your choice but some of the following may assist with establishing a well-rounded discipline program. Time-out

One of the oldest and most effective discipline methods. Pick a specific time-out post for each child. When placing your child in his or her designed location set the length of the time-out based on the child's age plus one additional minute.

Time-in

If your adopted child has been diagnosed with attachment issues this method may prove more productive than the traditional timeout. The length of the time-in should follow the same format as time-out but the child is shadowing your every move while serving his or her time.

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