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How nontraditional families might approach estate planning

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2019 | Trusts

Traditional families composed of a mother, a father and their children are increasingly in the minority. It is more likely that a Georgia resident who is creating an estate plan is part of a blended family, is one-half of an unmarried couple, is a single parent, or is divorced one or more times with children from each relationship. These are only a few of the family arrangements that can make an estate plan more complex.

A trust can be useful in these complicated family situations, but traditional trusts may need additional provisions as well. For example, with a traditionally structured trust, one person would receive income from the trust, and on that person’s death, the remainder beneficiary would receive the rest. However, a better arrangement for some families might involve appointing a trustee with the discretion to make distributions.

Ideally, a trustee is responsible and trustworthy, but it may still be prudent to appoint another person to ensure that this remains the case. A trust protector can be given additional powers, such as the power to replace the trustee or to make other changes. A decanting provision could allow the trustee to make necessary changes by merging the trust into a new one. One individual might also be permitted to add beneficiaries to the trust.

An attorney may be able to help a person determine what provisions may be needed as part of an estate plan to ensure that all loved ones receive the assets intended. It is also important to keep beneficiary designations updated. Some people may forget to remove an ex-spouse or to include children from a new relationship. Furthermore, estate planning is also about planning for becoming incapacitated. Powers of attorney can be used to appoint individuals to handle a person’s medical and financial matters if this happens to the principal.