Estate Planning Dilemmas for the Modern Family
Traditional notions of family are changing in the 21st century. Social conventions are evolving and new reproductive technology advances are challenging the concept of the family. Your estate planning documents need to be ready to reflect these new family dynamics of the modern family. So a family’s wishes are interpreted according to their loved one’s needs.
It is now common to meet blended families, non-traditional marriages, second marriages, unmarried couples, children born to unmarried couples, senior citizen marriages, and even posthumous births using preserved genetic material.
Divorces and Remarriages
It is important to reflect in estate planning documents the impact of future changes in family relationships. Talk to your estate planner if your estate includes significant wealth, your documents should include possible scenarios outside the current law. Possible scenarios are changes in fiduciary roles for former spouses, surviving spouse or spouses, consequences in a remarriage, or role in a family’s irrevocable trust.
Defining Children and Descendants
In the U.S., the law uses DNA testing on children to determine a contested paternity case, or a child to inherit assets from a parent to whom they had no previous relationship. Talk to your estate planner about how you want your estate plan to address future paternity cases. Establish in your documents how to formally acknowledge your wishes with your business or wealth on genetic paternity cases.
Adoption & Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
There is now an intersection between the modern family and reproductive technology. It is now possible for a child to have more than two parents. This is possible due to adoption and assisted reproductive technology. Financial and estate planning documents must now consider alternate parental definitions. Are adopted and biological children treated the same or excluded? Are genetic donors and surrogates considered legal parents? Are the children descendants in the family trust agreement? Talk to your financial planner to define your wishes.
Posthumous reproduction is a pregnancy taking place after the death of the parent. These pregnancies are possible with new reproductive technologies using the frozen genetic material. You should talk to your estate planner to define a time limit after death a conceived child can be considered a descent.
Consider discussing your situation with Ashok Sanghavi. Ashok is an expert estate planner. He can create a strategy for your financial and estate plan to anticipate future shifts in family definitions and ensure your needs are respected.