Troubleshooting Legal Problems

Why Blended Families Should Include A Trust In Their Estate Plan

Getting remarried when you already have children can be a practical decision. Marrying someone with children of their own means that you can combine forces to parent together. Your children gain a stepparent and stepsiblings, while you gain a spouse and stepchildren.

It could take some time to adjust to the practical realities of cohabitating as a blended family, but eventually you will likely develop a stable family dynamic. Despite a healthy family bond right now, you may want to adjust your estate plan to include a trust. Doing so may preserve that family dynamic in the future.

 Your death could affect the entire family

When you die, your spouse and your children will have an interest in your estate. Blended families may be at elevated risk for the closest family members of the deceased fighting over their property. Your children or your spouse could challenge your estate plan. Doing so might undermine your last wishes and reduce or eliminate the inheritance you wanted to leave for specific members of your family.

Creating a trust will make it much more difficult for the beneficiaries of your estate to challenge your wishes. A trustee will oversee the distribution of all trust property, making infighting and underhanded tactics during probate proceedings less of a concern.

There are other benefits to a trust as well

Beyond being harder to challenge and having the oversight of a trustee, trusts offer numerous other benefits to a testator with a blended family. For example, moving ownership of your residence into a trust would allow you to give your spouse and their children the right to stay in the property without giving them the right to sell it. You could earmark the home as the eventual possession of your children so that they benefit from it financially after your spouse has lived there.

A trust allows you to retain control over how people use their inherited assets or when the trustee distributive property to people. If you have any reason to worry about taxes or debt, a trust can help with those concerns as well. Creating a trust and talking to your family about your estate wishes can reduce the potential of probate conflicts pulling your family apart after you die.