Understanding Estate Planning In Blended Families

The structure of the family has changed drastically in recent decades. All throughout Northern Illinois, blended families have become more of the norm than the traditional family. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau says that more than half of all families are blended. Households can include a range of relationships involving a mix of stepchildren, step siblings, half-siblings and full-siblings.

Estate planning for blended families involves unique challenges that many parents may not easily recognize. The lawyers at Zapolis & Associates, P.C., in Mokena, frequently create tailored estate plans and trusts clearly address how assets should be managed and distributed.

Avoid Unintended Disinheritances In Blended Families

No two blended families are at the same stage and the same family dynamics. More mature parents with adult children may wish to pass their assets to their respective biological children. In other situations, a stepparent may wish to provide for a stepchild. Similarly, spouses frequently agree that should one pass away, the surviving spouse needs security in inheriting assets. For this reason (and others), spouses frequently title assets in both names.

Without an estate plan, the state of Illinois will decide how to distribute assets should one or both spouses pass away. For instance, if you and your spouse own a home in joint tenancy, your spouse will take full ownership of the home should you pass away. If you have a child from a previous marriage, that child may very well be cut off from inheriting any value in the home in the future. Your spouse's legatees will stand to benefit, not your child from the previous relationship.

It is more important than ever for members of blended families to put together solid estate plans to help ensure that some loved ones are not unintentionally disinherited. Changes in circumstances, such as the disability or death of a parent, can create significant tensions among survivors that can lead to contested litigation.

Call Our Seasoned Estate Planning Attorneys For Detailed Guidance

Zapolis & Associates, P.C., has served the Chicago metropolitan area and Northern Illinois for more than 36 years. We know how to draft the appropriate documents to give you the peace of mind that your wishes will be clear. To learn more about estate planning for blended families call 708-390-8936 or send us an email to arrange a free consultation. We can arrange to meet you after hours or on Saturday, by request.