Family dynamics have become more and more complicated over the years as “blended” families have replaced the “traditional” mum, dad and two genetically related children family. “Blended” families are the result of re-marriages where people have children from previous relationships.
Other factors changing the dynamic of the modern family include the fact that as of 30 June 2015 there have been 7,366 marriages in the UK between same-sex couples (since same-sex marriage introduced on 29 March 2014). There is also an increasing trend towards the westernisation of eastern families to include children marrying against wishes of elder settlors.
Yet, legal advice tends to address the needs of the “traditional” family and not always the additional challenges that these modern families face.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with estate planning for the modern family:
1. Create a global estate plan which incorporates documents outside of the traditional trust and LOW to include documents such as cohabitation agreements, pre-nups, adoption agreements.
2. Encourage families to address controversial issues which they may wish to side-step e.g. children born out of wedlock, same-sex relationships. Create a complete plan that addresses all of these issues to avoid claims against estates later down the line.
3. Suggest the family keep you updated on a more regular basis (at least annual) of developments within the family e.g. marriages, births, relocations, gender changes etc! These changes should be fed through to the Settlor’s letter of wishes regularly.
Planning for today’s wealthy families requires advisers to be well versed in a diverse range of planning options to best preserve and increase family wealth over multiple generations. Long-standing structures need to be entirely revitalised to meet the needs of today’s modern family.