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An estate plan should reflect a family's unique situation

The day of the traditional family being the majority may be coming to a close. Today, American families come in all sorts of varieties and combinations, and an estate plan should reflect the individuality and uniqueness of a family in today's modern world. Michigan families may want to consider the following issues when considering creating an estate plan to meet their modern needs.

One common issue faced by modern couples is the blended family that results from divorce and remarriage. When a man or woman remarries, he or she needs to ensure that the beneficiaries listed on retirement accounts and life insurance policies, and those named in a will, reflect his or her current situation. Failure to update beneficiaries can result in a current spouse losing out on inheritance intended for him or her.

One other reality of modern society is that some couples cohabitate for decades and even raise children together without ever legally marrying. Those who wish to ensure that their long-term partners are their estates' beneficiaries must ensure that their estate plans clearly denote who is to receive what from their estates. Without having the proper paperwork in place, an unmarried man or woman can find him or herself with little claim to his or her partner's estate.

A Michigan family may look a little different than it did a generation ago for many reasons. However, families of all kinds still need to prepare for how assets will be distributed after the passing of a loved one. An estate plan that encompasses all of the necessary traditional documentation, but is also customized to suit the unique situation a family has is often the best way to ensure one's wishes are carried out.

Source:, "MAKING CENTS: Estate planning for non-traditional relationships", John Napolitano, Nov. 22, 2014

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