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Planning & the Blended Family

Estate planning is complicated enough in second marriages, but toss in a wrinkle or two, and you could be setting up loved ones for heartache

There is an unfortunate myth that some people still believe about estate planning. Some people think that with the federal estate tax exemption at $5 million for a single person and $10 million for a married couple, they are “out of the woods” in terms of federal estate taxes and so do not need an estate plan.

That is a myth. Even if you don’t have estate taxes to worry about (now), you could have plenty of estate issues to deal with – especially if you are part of a Blended Family. The Chicago Tribune recently highlighted just a few of the “wrinkles” that could complicate estate planning for those in second marriages.

Consider a few of the potential complications:

  • Non-Citizen Spouse – Let’s say you have children from a previous marriage, and you marry someone who isn’t a U.S. citizen. Beyond the “traditional” hurdles regarding estate taxes and non-citizens, you may have to deal with another complication. What if your non-citizen spouse leaves the country? What will happen to the estate assets you had intended to leave to your children? Consider a qualified domestic trust with an independent trustee overseeing the assets.
  • Much Younger Spouse – Another type of trust often used in second-marriage situations is a qualified terminable interest trust (also known as a QTIP), which allows a spouse to receive income and distributions from a trust until their death, when the remainder goes to other heirs. But, if your spouse is much younger than you, that could be a very long time, and the underlying assets of the trust could be exhausted – leaving nothing for your children. In these situations, you may want to consider properly owned life insurance with your children as beneficiaries. 

These are just two of the many ways that life can complicate your estate planning needs, regardless the state of the estate tax. To learn more about fundamental estate planning, visit our website and be sure to subscribe to our free monthly estate planning e-newsletter.

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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.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Coronavirus/Covid-19
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.