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Estate planning is helpful in blended family situation

In West Virginia and other states, it is necessary to use estate planning to best prepare for distribution of one's estate in a "blended" family situation. If that is not done, the children of a prior marriage may not receive any assets, contrary to their parent's wishes. Where there are multiple beneficiaries from one or more prior marriages of the individual, estate planning is a necessity to ensure that one's preferences are honored at one's death.

There are some general principles to follow, but keep in mind that this cannot be done with the appropriate precision and accuracy without the professional assistance of an estate planning attorney. That said, one may begin by double-checking all beneficiary designations in insurance policies, retirement accounts and investment accounts that list a beneficiary. Make sure that these are updated and reflect one's current preferences.

If there has been a divorce, for example, leaving one's former spouse as a named beneficiary on a retirement or other account can have disastrous consequences. Another way to handle distribution to children of a prior marriage is to make conveyances of property or to make gifts of monetary accounts. That is a certain way to have the peace of mind of knowing that those beneficiaries have been addressed.

A living trust is a vehicle for turning over the assets while alive, but retaining a power to change the trust if desired. Upon death, the assets will pass as directed without having to go through one's estate. This arrangement has the benefit of being free from public perusal, as the trust affairs remain private unless the settlor publishes them for some reason. There are numerous other ways to establish mechanisms for the desired results under West Virginia law, but these and other choices will be optimally selected in cooperation and consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Source: brushnewstribune.com, "CABLE: Estate planning with a blended family", Edward Jones., Dec. 23, 2016

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