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Tips on estate planning when your family is a blended one

There are many definitions for the family unit these days. Gone are the times when most marriages were between a man and a woman and lasted a lifetime. Today, chances are you may be part of a blended family. So, when you sit down to plan your estate, you might want to keep that in mind.

Families today could include stepchildren, ex-partners and former in-laws. Keeping these people in mind when you're in the throes of estate planning could keep hard feelings from happening down the road.

The challenges of multiple marriages

Fashioning an estate plan that sees to everyone -- including your current spouse, any children from a past union and perhaps even stepchildren -- might take some imagination. To keep things from getting too complicated and to keep things organized, you may want to use some estate planning tools, like a flowchart, to create the path upon which your assets would travel. Having such things in place might allow you to plan your estate without feeling overly stressed.

Naming the proper beneficiaries for your insurance and retirement funds

The names of your beneficiaries listed on any insurance policies or retirement accounts will overrule anything else, so you might want to ensure your policies are up to date. Those funds will go directly to the individuals formally named on the policies. If you want more than one person as your primary beneficiary, you will need to make this clear.

Using a trust

You might consider using a trust to dictate asset distribution. You'll still need a will, but a trust may be the answer if you're remarried. For instance, a husband could set up a trust making sure his wife is taken care of financially for the rest of her life, with any remaining funds going to his children of a former marriage upon his wife's death. This scenario could potentially result in some complications, so, if facing similar circumstances, you might want to consider leaving your children a direct inheritance, such as through a life insurance policy.

The importance of transparency

Talking to everyone in your family about your estate plan is often the best plan of action. It can go a long way toward keeping feelings from being hurt. There can never be enough communication in a blended family, and things tend to go much more smoothly when there are no surprises.

If you have questions regarding protecting yourself and your loved ones for the future, a Florida attorney specializing in estate planning could provide you with guidance and ensure your final wishes are carried out. An experienced attorney might be able to provide you with some creative solutions for your estate plan that would leave all your family members happy and free from any future disputes.

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