What does â€œfamilyâ€ mean to you?Iâ€™m sure each of you has a different answer when it comes to this simplequestion. This word can get a bit complicated in a law, a contract, a will, atrust, and so on.
Itâ€™s hard to find an estate planthat has nothing to do with family, and the great majority of them are allabout family, so how could there be any ambiguity? WealthManagement tracks some of the practical problems in a recentarticle titled, â€œWhat is a â€œFamily?â€â€
You see, the problems with thedefinitions of family have less to do with federal or state law (unlikeâ€œmarriageâ€) because it can be defined by the person actually planning his orher estate.
The original article discussesthree different contexts and each only muddies the definitions of family. Forexample, consider a â€œfamily trustâ€ established in 1910 to serve multiplegenerations. Did the person establishing such a trust foresee how the familywould look like in 2013 after divorces, second marriages, children out ofwedlock, same-sex partners and all other manners of contemporary occurrences?
What is a trustee of such aâ€œfamily trustâ€ to do?
Are we any better in imaginingthe future as we write our own estate plans today? If you think about it, evenwithout considering the social mores matters, there are potential familyproblems whenever a trust lasts for multiple generations. After all, with everygeneration that comes along the number of potential beneficiaries that comesalong tends to grow exponentially. Over time, each generation is less relatedand less connected to the others and the original maker of the trust.
All of this highlights theimportance of working with an experienced estate planning attorney.
So what is â€œfamilyâ€ to you andis that what your documents say in their black and white?
For more information on this and otherestate planning subjects, contact IdahoEstate Planning and schedule aconsultation. Remember,good planning is no accident.