Blended Family Estate Planning Challenges in Virginia

Americans are increasingly cobbling together new families out of earlier broken marriages
Blendednfamily… Effective estate planning for these modern families, made up of past and present marriages, requires a fair amount of finesse and family engagement, to settle disagreements early on and to financially provide for both the current spouse and the children from a previous marriage.

The “family tree” is a wonderful little metaphor. More than that, however, the family tree is the basis of the body of laws surrounding family, estates, and probate (with equal metaphorical
oomph, see “per stirpes”).

For better or for worse, the “modern family” is not the same as the well-tended tree of former times, and those old legal definitions just are not cutting it these days. For the modern family, there simply has to be a bit more planning to get it right.

So, what is the modern family and how do we even begin to get things right these days? That is an
ever-evolving ambiguity. Recently, Barron’s Penta took a shot at the topic in a recent article titled “Estate Planning for Modern Families.

Modern families are breaking down boundaries and pulling “branches” together and apart too fast for the legal system to figure it out. The original article appeals to the ABC show of the same name, Modern Family. However, a healthy jumping off point comes from the U.S. Census Bureau. It found that in 30% of all marriages at least one spouse had previously been married, bringing along assets, retirement accounts and kids. In other words, there are lots of “blended families” (i.e., families composed of greater and lesser proportions of blood relationship through divorce, remarriage, adoption, and more)! Adding to the complexity, in many portions of the country a modern family may be the result of same-sex marriage and same-sex couples adopting.

If your family tree would take some artistry to draw out – and some of the best ones do – then so too should your estate plans.

So how do you do that? The original article has some ideas, but since your family is unique consider them guidelines. With the assistance of an experienced estate planner you can come to a careful, tailored plan for all of your loved ones.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia.  Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference: Barron’s Penta (October 14, 2013) “Estate Planning for Modern Families



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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.