Estate Planning for Today’s Families

What are the unique estate planning needs of non-traditional families?

Today, the majority of families no longer consist of the traditional heterosexual married couple with 2.5 children. Far from the Cleavers, families today look more like the popular TV show “Modern Family,” which features a same-sex couple, second marriages, and adopted children. Americans who are part of a modern family will want to ensure their estate plan meets their unique needs. Our Brandon, Mississippi estate planning lawyers describe modern families of today and offer some estate planning tips for the non-traditional family.

What Does a Modern Family Look Like?

According to recent U.S. Census data, fewer than half of all families consist of the so-called traditional family, which is said to comprise a heterosexual couple with biological children. Further, even those families that meet this definition are non-traditional in other ways. They may be inter-racial, practice different religions, or be re-married. In fact, over half of all families in the United States are remarried or re-coupled. Every day, about 1,300 new stepfamilies are formed in America. 

Modern families today may be childless, blended, divorced, same-sex, cohabitating, or single parents. The number of unmarried cohabitating couples has risen tremendously in recent years, now estimated at 19.1 million nationwide. While the estate planning needs of traditional families tend to be straightforward, non-traditional families may require some additional planning. For example, if one of the members of a cohabitating couple passes away without a will, state law is unlikely to protect the surviving partner. This makes it all the more essential that a non-traditional family meets with an estate planning attorney to ensure their loved ones are protected no matter what the future holds.

The Estate Planning Needs of a Modern Family

Every modern family is unique, and thus will have their own special estate planning needs.  There are some estate planning documents that will generally benefit any family that is non-traditional in some way. These include:

  • A will:  Having a Last Will and Testament is important for any family, but all the more so for a non-traditional family.  Should you pass away without a will, your loved ones might not be considered legally next in line to receive your assets.  With a will, you can clearly designate who you want to receive your hard-earned assets.
  • TrustsMany modern families will benefit from the creation of one or more trusts.  A trust allows for the seamless transfer of assets within it to the named beneficiaries.  Trusts come with tax benefits and increased flexibility.
  • Powers of attorneyYou will want to ensure your partner or loved one has the power to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf.  If you are not married, the court system will not automatically give these powers to your partner.

Contact an estate planning lawyer to get started today with creating your comprehensive estate plan that will meet the needs of your wonderful and unique family.