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Estate planning and blended families in Illinois

The definition of family is not as cut and dried in the 21st century as it was in the earlier part of the 20th century. With divorce and remarriage more prevalent, some Illinois residents may find themselves in blended family situations. Estate planning in these instances might be tricky, but the process may be less so when armed with the right information.

For those who have remarried and who wish to leave their children from their first marriage something after they pass away, it is extremely important to leave a will with that detailed directive. The spouses of those who die without wills or trusts will usually retain control over the deceased partners' assets, and if children aren't formally mentioned in a will, the surviving spouse, by default rules of the state, does not technically have to share those assets with his or her partner's children from a prior relationship. About 55 percent of Americans do not have an estate plan that includes a will, so they will die intestate.

Verbal understandings hold no validity when it comes to last wishes. These things must be addressed in an estate plan and written down in formal, legal documents. They are especially important in blended families since some stepparents would like to leave something for their stepchildren, and unless they have been formally adopted, they are not considered family under the law.

It can all get rather confusing and complicated. An Illinois attorney may be able to enlighten clients considering estate planning. Knowing who and what to include in certain formal documents may save many feelings from being hurt and ensure that the last wishes of the estate holder are fully honored when the time comes to do so. 

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