A prospective new client contacts you about working with him. Within minutes, you learn that he wants you to also work with his partner, and that they are unmarried with each having children from prior relationships as well as one of their own together. Do you experience a thrill of excitement at having such a complex and fascinating potential couple to work with, or does this scenario strike fear in your heart? If you're like most of the estate planners we work with, fear is the first response, and, in most instances, the prospective client is afraid as well, but for different reasons.
In Estate Planning for the Blended Family (Self-Counsel Press 2012), we identify and discuss 11 fears that clients can have when it comes to the estate planning process, which include everything from contemplating death to fear of the estate planning process itself. The biggest issue that is front and center in the estate planner's mind (or should be if it's not already) is the likelihood of conflict of interests within the blended family system.
The reality is that estate planners need to be able to manage their own emotions, as well as those of their clients, around these fears and conflicts. It's not enough to understand the intricacies of estate planning vehicles to avoid taxes and transfer assets efficiently - it's also necessary to make sure you are addressing the core concerns (and yes, fears) that are part of the process. These fears prevent people from doing estate planning, or cause them to procrastinate in their estate planning. Fears lead to avoidance strategies that cause delays in estate planning. More often than not, people tend to avoid those conversations due to a lack of awareness about how to have the conversations effectively.
Estate planning for the blended family client can present some of the most challenging work that an estate planner ever does. One of the reasons why this is so is that most professionals in the field of estate planning aren't sufficiently trained or experienced in the "human side" of the process, which is the "heart" of estate planning. Most attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors are trained in the "head" side of estate planning. The key to successfully navigating the often treacherous waters of estate planning for the blended family is properly balancing the head and heart.
Tomorrow, May 22nd, we will present the third session of our Estate Planning for Blended Families 3-Part teleconference series, diving into the key issues around testamentary planning for blended family couples. During this presentation, participants will learn ways to ensure that no changes are made to an estate plan of a partner, including the use of mutual wills, contracts to make a will, marriage contracts and in terrorem clauses. The session will also discuss the use of QTIP trusts and available planning options and issues relating to their use. Additionally, we'll cover selected will and trust drafting issues that revolve around the blended family client. Moreover, we'll also deal with a panoply of other issues involving testamentary planning for the blended family client, including: powers of appointment and the options and traps that are involved with them, identities of the agents; personal representatives and successor trustees, and how to plan around those matters; the potential spousal election; life estates and estate equalization. Finally, we'll cover a number of issues that arise during the administration of a blended family partner's estate.
The session once again marries the "head" and the "heart" of estate planning.
Today is the last chance to register to participate on tomorrow's live teleconference!
Did you miss the first two sessions?
It's not too late! All of our teleconferences are recorded and the handout materials and audio recordings for the first two sessions are available for immediate download!
Only interested in the third session?
If you are only interested in attending tomorrow's session, Testamentary Planning & Administration for Blended Families, we are pleased to offer you 15% discount off the regular price. Register now for just $109!
For more information and to register...
We hope this helps you help others,
Paul & Emily
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Emily Bouchard and L. Paul Hood, Jr. © 2012