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Blended families in Texas face complex estate planning issues

It is common now for many Texas families to be a combination of step-parents and half or step-siblings. However, with this comes some complex issues that do not typically exist in traditional estate planning. When it comes to blended families, trusts are often a helpful tool to ensure that the spouse is taken care of and the children are not disinherited. Trusts can help with tax planning, too.

Each family situation is unique, so trusts must be tailored to the estate planner's specific needs. Estate planning is affected by whether the couple shares marital assets or established individual assets via a prenuptial agreement. Whether the couple has a joint will or individual ones can also be a factor, as the surviving spouse can change his or her will at any time and disinherit the deceased spouse's children.

In many situations, the will does not have the final say in how assets are distributed. For example, it is important to periodically check beneficiary designations to make sure they match up with the will because those documents take precedence. At the same time, it may be helpful to verify that powers of attorney are up-to-date to designate the person whom the estate planner wishes to make financial and medical decisions on his or her behalf.

A carefully thought out and well drafted estate plan can avoid any probate issues and ensure that assets are distributed according to the individual's wishes. Because blended families in Texas may have different needs from more traditional families, special considerations may need to be made when planning for the future. Therefore, it may be helpful for individuals to seek assistance with estate planning in order to give their loved ones peace of mind and ease the estate administration process.

Source: postcrescent.com, Estate planning for blended families can get complicated, Carissa Giebel, Jan. 31, 2014

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