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Revocable trusts: Valuable in planning for blended families

The circumstances and dynamics of each New York family are unique, and so are their estate planning requirements. Fortunately, tools such as revocable trusts are available to meet the needs of all. They are particularly useful for blended families in which both parties come into the marriage with their assets and children from previous relationships, and children might be born in the new union.

Advisers say it is wise to discuss the distribution of assets while both spouses are healthy instead of waiting until one spouse is debilitated or deceased. Each spouse can create a trust and fund it with his or her assets. Their respective trusts could provide them with support for as long as they live and then support the surviving spouse if one of them dies.

When the surviving spouse dies, the assets can be distributed to each spouse's children as detailed in the trust. The assets would be protected for the grantor's children even if the surviving spouse were to enter into a new marriage. While revocable trusts are valuable tools, they cannot stand alone.

Most people in New York choose to utilize the skills of an experienced estate planning attorney to provide support and guidance. Legal counsel can explain the pros and cons of the different types of trusts and offer advice based on each person's unique circumstances. A lawyer can also assist with other essentials of estate planning, such as a will, medical directives and power of attorney, and help with annual revisions to deal with life's changes and make the necessary modifications.

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