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Lombard estate planning attorneyIt is estimated that approximately 1,300 new stepfamilies are created every day in the United States. While proper estate planning is important for everyone, individuals who have a blended family should take special care to ensure that their estate plans reflect their wishes and provide for beneficiaries.  Whether your family includes stepparents and stepchildren, adopted children, half-siblings, or grandchildren, having a comprehensive estate plan is essential. If you are in a blended family, there are special estate planning considerations that may apply to your situation that you may be unaware of.  

Complications Regarding Remarriages and Children from a Previous Marriage

A large percentage of U.S. adults are on their second or third marriages. If you have remarried and you have children from a previous relationship, you should be aware of the way Illinois intestate succession laws operate. If a person dies without a valid will or other estate planning document, his or her assets are distributed according to state law. In Illinois, the laws of intestate succession would split your estate between your current spouse and your children. Such laws, however, do not specify which of your assets will go to your children. This means that if you want your children from a previous relationship to inherit certain items—including family heirlooms or other things with sentimental value, you will need to create a will or trust to do so.

One major mistake many people make when they get remarried is forgetting to change the primary beneficiary from their previous spouse to their current spouse. If you have remarried but your have children from a past relationship, you may want to consider naming your new spouse and your biological children as primary beneficiaries. This would allow each of these individuals to receive a portion of your estate when you pass away. Another option is to create a revocable trust that assigns assets to your spouse during his or her lifetime but then passes the remaining trust balance to your children upon your spouse’s death.

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Lombard estate planning attorneyOne of the primary objectives of the estate planning process is to make sure that your wishes regarding your property and assets are followed in the event of your death. While the estate planning lawyers at our firm can help you draft the appropriate documents and make the process as easy as possible, there will still be many decisions that are yours to make. For example, it can be tough to choose which people in your life will receive a portion of your estate—and how much they should receive! As you think about those you would like to include in your will or estate planning trusts, you may wish to consider:

Choosing Multiple Heirs

You have every legal right to simply name your spouse—or another important person, such as your child—as your sole heir and beneficiary. Just because you have the right to do so, however, does not mean you should. The purpose of your estate plan is to set things up for the future, which cannot be predicted. Naming just one heir will prove all but useless if something were to happen to that person. Then, your assets would suddenly become dependent on that individual’s estate planning choices. If you select several heirs, however, or set up contingency beneficiary levels, you will be able to retain more control over how your estate is distributed.

The Dynamics of Your Family

It is not really fair that you should have to think about how your family members will react to your estate planning decisions, but the reality is that you probably consider it. It may be tempting to have an “It won’t be my problem” attitude, but your choices are likely to affect how your family gets along in your absence. In your estate plan, you have the chance to promote unity or leave the door open for contentiousness. While you cannot necessarily predict emotional reactions, you can eliminate possible loopholes by taking reasonable steps ahead of time.

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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