Thursday, February 7, 2019
The traditional family model (heterosexual, married, and with children) is much less prevalent in our changing society, yet the field of estate planning is slow to catch up. With more and more blended families, multiple marriages, and even artificial reproduction, estate planners and advisors need to raise new questions with their clients and offer new solutions.
The five basic questions to ask when forming a estate plan are to whom, how much, when, outright or in a trust, who will step into your shoes as agent and fiduciary. These questions are important for both traditional and contemporary families, but the latter will bring along more complex questions that will need not-so-simple answers.
Traditionally, financial wealth has descended by blood line. Non-marital partners, gestational agreements, and other form of artificial reproduction have caused several people to redefine blood lines as well as trusts that provide for those family members. If there are multiple marriages and large age gaps between children, a parent or grandparent may want to leave more to the younger of the generation as they may still be juveniles when the trustor passes away. But do not assume that you can leave less to children from a prior marriage as you believe your ex-spouse will also leave me an inheritance. This may not always be the case, so communicating your intent should ease any confusion.
See Ashlea Ebeling, How Long Will Stepmom Live? And Other Vexing Estate Planning Questions For Modern Families, Forbes, January 29, 2019.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.