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Estate planning and the definition of family

More couples around the country and in the District of Columbia are getting divorced. This leads to many people having children from a first marriage, stepchildren, children from additional marriages and ex-spouses and new spouses -- all of which may have been considered family at some point but may or may not be over the long haul. As the definition of family changes in our society, it can be difficult to define who is to be considered family for estate planning purposes.

Many people will include their adult children in their wills and trusts, but may either intentionally or unintentionally neglect to include those children's spouses. Still others may include only biological children and not stepchildren, while others include everyone. For people who make sure that spouses are included, problems may arise in the event a spouse becomes an ex-spouse.

For this reason, it may be a good idea to get together with as much family as possible periodically. This can help ensure that all of the people a person intends to include in his or her estate planning are included, and that any changes that have occurred in those people's lives are taken into account. This can avoid any complications or confrontations in the future.

With divorce statistics being what they are, it is possible that people could need to review their estate plans on a regular basis. Most estate planning documents are not written in stone. Anyone in the District of Columbia can change those documents through the years in order to ensure that his or her desires with regard to who will receive what assets upon death are carried out.

Source: Reuters, YOUR PRACTICE-Who is family when it comes to estate planning?, Beth Pinsker, Oct. 29, 2013

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