We help you protect your children when you have a blended family.

Example: Matt and Sara are in their 50s and just got married. This is the second marriage for both of them and both have grown children from their first marriages. They’ve never done any estate planning.  Each has assets in his or her own name. They want to leave everything to each other but want to protect their own children, too. How can they do that?

This is a common situation. Matt and Sara need to consider the same things as Steve and Sue in We help you make it easier for your family after you’re gone. But there is an added twist to their planning: they may trust each other completely, but no one can be sure what will happen after he or she dies. If Sara dies in an accident tomorrow, and Matt lives another 30 years, can Sara really be sure that Matt will remember her children in his will?

For this reason, many couples create trusts to both provide for their spouses and protect their children. If they want to avoid probate, Matt and Sara may want to transfer their assets to living trusts. If not, they can create testamentary trusts in their wills. However they do it, they can leave some or all of their estate to a marital trust for the benefit of the spouse, allowing him or her to use the income and perhaps even some of the principal. Then upon the second spouse’s death, the assets in the trust would go to the first spouse’s children.

How do death taxes affect my estate?

There is no federal estate tax on the first $5.45 million of an estate, so most people don’t have to worry about death taxes. But if either Matt or Sara has over $ 5 million, they may be concerned about taxes. In that event they will want to make sure the marital trust they create qualifies for the marital exemption, which is unlimited. To do that, the trust property must be “Qualified Terminable Interest Property” (usually called QTIP). There are strict rules governing what trusts qualify as QTIP trusts.

Whether you have a little money or a lot of money, if you have a blended family, we can explain the options to you and help you decide the best way to protect both your spouse and your children.