Modern family trust dilemmas
In light of changing family dynamics, it’s important to ensure financial planning documents will be interpreted in a way that reflects your clients’ wishes for their loved ones.
Over the last several decades, advances in technology and evolving social conventions have challenged traditional notions of family. It’s become increasingly common to see second marriages, blended families, children born to unmarried couples, non-traditional marriages, and even posthumous births using frozen genetic material. In light of these new family dynamics, it’s important to ensure your financial planning documents will be interpreted in a way that reflects your clients’ wishes for their loved ones.
Divorces and Remarriages
Particularly when significant wealth is involved, it’s important to consider the impact of a divorce and the financial disputes and claims that often accompany it. For scenarios beyond the scope of normal statutes, such as roles in a family’s irrevocable trust, it may be a good idea to include a provision to remove a former spouse from controlling fiduciary roles. Also, discuss with your client whether a surviving spouse who remarries should continue to be treated the same way in the estate plan.
Defining Children and Descendants
State law generally uses DNA tests to establish paternity in uncertain or contested cases, and it’s possible for a child who tests positive on a DNA test to inherit assets from a parent they had no relationship with. Talk to your client about how their estate plan would address such a situation, and consider whether including a formal acknowledgement of genetic paternity in these important documents would align with their wishes for their wealth or business.
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