At the Piatchek Law Firm, our attorneys recognize that many families today are no longer “traditional” in arrangement. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, Missouri laws do not always keep up with our changing times. Our attorneys have kept up, however, and we pay close attention to the evolving legal landscape in which we now find ourselves. We recognize that the following groups often have special considerations to address with estate planning, and we’re ready to help.
Estate Planning for Divorced Parents
Oftentimes, divorced parents have special circumstances to address when forming a will, trust, or estate plan. Namely, we find that these parents often want to leave their property, money, and estate to their children. However, what do you do if your children are minors or not yet old enough to handle an inheritance? If you leave an inheritance to a minor child, you can guess who will likely end up holding and handling the money – your ex-spouse. Minor children cannot own property in Missouri, so if you leave your children property by a basic will, the children’s guardian or conservator (typically your child’s other parent) will end up holding it. A simple testamentary trust or revocable living trust can fix this problem, in addition to many other concerns that divorced parents have when creating an estate plan.
Estate Planning for Single-Parent Families
Single parents have unique considerations when forming an estate plan. Because the child does not have a second parent, a single parent must consider who would be the best guardian or conservator for their child if they were to pass away. Often a grandparent, sibling, or close friend may be a good option. In any event, a single parent will want to specify a choice of guardian and conservator, in writing, when considering their own estate plan.
Estate Planning for Blended Families
Many of our estate planning clients have “blended families,” meaning that the marriage is not the couple’s first marriage, and there may be one or more children that were born outside of the current marriage. There are some specific considerations regarding estate planning that clients from blended families often have. For example, many clients want to ensure that, if they were the first one to die, that the surviving spouse would not change the estate plan to:
- favor the surviving spouse’s own children;
- disinherit or reduce the share of the children belonging to the deceased spouse;
- favor the surviving spouse’s new boyfriend, girlfriend, or new spouse at some point in the future.
These concerns can be addressed in one of several different ways. For example, one solution is to simply have a provision in the estate plan that disallows the above actions by stating that the beneficiary provisions of the estate plan cannot be changed after the death of the first spouse. Or, a provision might state that the entire estate plan cannot be amended or changed after the death of the first spouse. In any event, our lawyers are happy to walk clients through the various estate planning choices and options available for blended families.
Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
Our attorneys understand that many long-term, committed couples choose not to get married for a variety of reasons. Many of these couples wish to complete their estate planning separately and do not want to commingle their assets or combine finances. Other unmarried couples are not only willing, but also prefer to commingle their assets, so that they are equal owners while they are alive. This way, they can be confident that one partner will keep everything seamlessly in the event of the other partner’s death. Finally, other couples want to keep most assets separate while commingling others.
We often find that a joint revocable living trust, two separate revocable living trusts, or even two simple wills can be a viable strategy for these unmarried couples. Our attorneys are happy to oblige our clients with these or any other goals, and we can help our clients create a custom estate plan to address all of their concerns.
Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples
Due to the recent Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, you might assume that estate planning for same-sex couples would not be as urgent or complicated as before. However, because the future is unclear and there are pending lawsuits and legislation in some states that seek to undo these new rights, it is just as important as ever (if not more so) that same-sex couples make sure they have a cohesive and thoughtful estate plan in place.
Our attorneys do not recommend that same-sex couples rely on state or federal government rules or decisions to protect their personal interests. Instead, we recommend that same-sex couples take action to create a will, trust, or other estate planning instrument, so that they can name their partner (or other desired parties) as beneficiary without having to rely on anyone else.
For caring and compassionate legal advice and assistance, contact our offices to arrange a confidential consultation with estate planning attorney Joseph J. Piatchek. Give us a call today at 417-882-5858.