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Blended families have unique estate planning needs

The definition of family has changed drastically in recent years. Many families in the District of Columbia are so-called "blended families," in which one or both spouses have children from a prior relationship and may also have children together. Attempting to satisfy everyone in this situation creates a challenge when it comes to estate planning.

A recent survey conducted by UBS of 2,715 of its high net worth investors revealed that 14 percent consisted of blended families. Of those families, approximately 55 percent felt that financial issues were more complex than traditional families. The real cost of supporting additional children was a surprise for nearly 44 percent. Around 63 percent felt that their stepchildren did not completely accept them despite the fact that they willingly took on responsibility for their care.

All of these factors also come into play when it comes to estate planning. Fewer blended families discuss passing on their assets, and 67 percent are not even sure how to divide their estates. Traditional families reported that only about 12 percent anticipate confrontations among heirs. This percentage rises sharply to 31 percent in blended families, which means that they are less confident that their heirs will be satisfied with how the estate is divided.

Few District of Columbia residents have no struggles when it comes to making decisions regarding estate planning. The challenges only seem to increase due to the complexity of some blended families. Fortunately, there are numerous options available for passing on assets, and an estate plan can be tailored to a family's particular needs and the wishes of the individual creating the plan. A plan can help ensure that family members are taken care of with a minimum of -- or no -- confrontations or complications.

Source: thinkadvisor.com, "Estate Planning for the Modern Family: It's Complicated, and Advisors Fall Short", Michael S. Fischer, July 27, 2015

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