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How your blended family can benefit from a trust

Does your family include stepchildren or an unmarried spouse? Your estate planning needs will be different from other families. Without a comprehensive estate plan, a probate court might not recognize all your family equally.

Your estate might undergo a lengthy court process to determine a fair distribution of property. It's better to plan now rather than let the court decide later.

How do blended families complicate estate planning?

In probate court, when someone dies without a will the court has a designated process to determine inheritance rights. This prioritizes people such as spouses, children, parents and siblings. This could mean that your stepchildren, unmarried spouse or other loved ones go overlooked.

If you would like to secure their rights, your estate plan could be their only protection against probate court and other beneficiaries. If you include your stepchildren in your estate even if you divorce, you can also arrange this.

How could a trust help?

If you entered the marriage with children and property, you should have protections in place for these in the event of your death. With a revocable trust, you can change and add to your estate plan up until your death. After that, everything in the trust can avoid probate.

This trust can do the following:

  • Provide lifelong financial support for your spouse or partner.
  • Entitle your spouse's children to inheritance.
  • Allow your children to inherit even if your spouse remarries.

A trust is one tool in an estate planner's arsenal to help protect your assets and your loved ones. A legal advisor can help you in your unique situation and determine what course is best for you.

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