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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Colorado Estate Planning Lawyers

Couples in "blended families" have unique estate planning needs. The term "blended families" refers to a second marriage where one or both spouses have children from a prior marriage or relationship. The goal in this situation is for each spouse to ultimately leave their assets to their children while ensuring that the surviving spouse is taken care of for the remainder of his or her life. The simplest solution is to leave everything to the surviving spouse and "trust" that the surviving spouse will treat the deceased spouse's children fairly in his or her estate plan. At Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C., our Colorado estate planning lawyers can help you address estate planning issues involving blended families.

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Potential Problems

This solution has several problems. The obvious problem is that this arrangement cannot be legally enforced. It is also possible that the surviving spouse may live for several years, during which time tensions may develop between the surviving spouse and the children of the deceased spouse which could cause the surviving spouse to treat these children less than fairly. This problem can be addressed through the use of a Qualified Terminable Interest Property or "QTIP" trust. The property of the spouse that dies first will be distributed into the QTIP trust. The trust will be managed for the benefit of the surviving spouse.

What Happens to the Surviving Spouse?

The surviving spouse generally will have the right to receive income that the assets generate and some principle. However, the surviving spouse cannot sell the trust assets or give them away, and the surviving spouse's estate plan cannot control the distribution of assets in the trust. On the death of the surviving spouse, the assets will be distributed to the children of the spouse who died first. Stay ahead of the curve while protecting what you've worked all your life to build!

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