One of the greatest challenges created in applying estate planning advice to individual situations is that many estate plans assume that a person’s family structure is identical to a conventional one. A lot has changed since the days of Leave It to Beaver, though. Today’s environment much more closely resembles the television show Modern Family with second marriages, same-sex marriages, and multi-generational planning. 

 

Today, approximately only 35% of American families are comprised of traditional heterosexual married individuals with children. The estate planning strategies that all the other families need are very different from what conventional families do. The following will review some of the important estate planning strategies that should be implemented by modern families. 

 

Begin by Understanding

 

You should begin with estate planning by understanding that non-traditional families are becoming much more common. Some of the issues that you should consider include whether non-marital or adopted children could unintentionally be excluded from your estate plan. You should also consider whether you are leaving individuals out of your estate plan who believe that they should be beneficiaries. 

 

One way to make sure that your estate plans are transferred per your wishes is to carefully select the appointed individuals who will help distribute your assets after your death. 

 

Consider Trusts

 

When multi-generational or unconventional asset planning is involved, a trust can be a powerful estate planning tool. Trust protectors are a relatively recent addition to the collection of trustees and fiduciaries. A trust protector can be assigned a great degree of power including the ability to remove and replace a trustee and change the governing laws for how trusts are administered. 

 

If you do decide to create a trust, it also might be a wise idea to give this individual the ability to add beneficiaries, which could be important if it is uncertain who will benefit from these assets. 

 

Some people are dissuaded from creating trusts because there is frequently a substantial fee to establish one, but the costs associated with not establishing a trust are often much more costly. Division and merger provisions are one useful way to reduce the costs and complexity associated with professional fees. Your family law attorney can tell you more.

 

Hold on to Personal Assets

 

Holding onto a person’s assets was once a common strategy for passing on assets, but in modern families, it can be a wise idea to use a trust to pass on these assets. This way, you can make sure that assets pass on to the desired family members. The distribution standards for trusts, however, can be just as useful for modern families. 

 

While traditional trusts often distribute assets to one individual and then following that person’s death, to a second person, modern trusts often name an institutional trustee and give them discretionary distribution authority. 

 

Discuss Your Estate Plans with a Knowledgeable Lawyer

 

One of the best steps to take to make sure that your estate plan is as strong as possible is to speak with an experienced attorney. 

 

Contact attorney Jim A Lyon today to schedule a free initial consultation.