Crafting An Estate Plan for Your Unique Situation

Blended families2Our estate plan should reflect our desires; it should not simply be a regurgitation of what the average person needs. We all have our own family dynamics and our own beliefs as to what is right and wrong.  This is especially true in the case of the blended family.

It’s not uncommon these days to meet an older couple and learn that they have been married only for a few years and that it’s the second marriage for both of them.  What happens when second marrieds combine their finances and must determine how to divide their estate. Their big question centers on how to address the kids, upon both of their deaths.

Many couples in blended families wonder what obligation they each have to the other’s children. The answer is simply none. A spouse doesn’t have to leave them anything in his or her estate. If they adopted the children, it’s a different story. But as to step-children, think Cinderella: you have no obligation to them whatsoever.

 However, if you do have children together, you have some legal duty. You don’t have to leave them anything, but you can’t ignore them. If you opt to disinherit a child for whatever reason, you should note this in your will and trust, and state specifically that they’re being disinherited.

For blended families, when it comes to estate planning, remember that it doesn’t matter what other people are doing. You should do what you think is best for your situation. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney who has worked with blended families before. They will understand your situation.

Blended marriages are now common. There’s no right and wrong way to do things. Don’t feel pressure from others, because every family situation is different and, particularly in blended marriages, the issues can be complex. The best time to do your estate planning is not when you are facing an emergency, but when you have time to analyze the issues, discuss them with each other and consider how you want to go forward.

Finally, it may be a good idea to discuss your estate plan with your adult children. This also depends on each individual situation. If you have a close-knit family, it’s a smart idea to discuss your estate plan with them.  However, if your family isn’t close, and you believe it will cause you problems and stress to discuss it with the children, then don’t do it.

Every family dynamic is different, and there are no one-size answers. You need to examine your situation and think about what will work best for your family now and in the future.

Reference: Hometown Life (May 31, 2018) “Blended marriages take careful estate planning”


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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.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

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.