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Preempting family disputes with estate planning

Many people in Massachusetts are aware that Casey Kasem's death was surrounded by controversy, and some say it may be in large part due to his failure to have a proper estate plan. When one party to a second marriage has adult children and marries someone within their children's age range, careful estate planning can help preempt future confrontations. Sitting everyone down and explaining how assets will be distributed in the event of the older spouse's death may put everyone's mind at ease.

This meeting can be as general or specific as desired. As for the documents needed to make sure that both a new spouse and adult children from a prior marriage are taken care of, there are multiple options. One of those options is a revocable trust.

All of an individual's assets can be put into the trust, and the beneficiaries can be given distributions in accordance with rules set up by the trust's creator. The advantage of this trust is that it can provide for the creator during his or her lifetime, and then for the surviving spouse and children after death. Changes can also be made to the document as necessary during the life of the creator so long as he or she is competent to do so.

Of course, other options are available depending on a person's needs. The point is that in the end, it is the wishes and goals of the Massachusetts resident that should be reflected in that person's estate planning documents. Once a plan is in place, sharing it with both a younger spouse and adult children may help reduce any doubt on the part of the individual's children that there was any undue influence by a new spouse in the decisions of the deceased.

Source: MarketWatch, "How proper planning can avert a Casey Kasem-type drama", Annika Ferris Cushnie, July 23, 2014

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