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Impact of Blended Families on Estate Planning: Effective Trust Structures, Beneficiary Challenges, Litigation

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide estate planners with a deep and practical guide to blended families' trust and estate planning challenges. The panel will offer specific guidance on structuring spousal trusts, ensuring premarital and joint property is titled to avoid probate or beneficiary challenges, and estate planning vehicles to incorporate prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. The panel will also offer a critical analysis of methods to minimize litigation risks and handling claims.


Among the greatest challenges for estate planner is planning for clients in a second or subsequent marriage. The intricacies increase when one or both spouses have children from prior marriages and in situations where age or premarital assets vary greatly between the spouses. Effective estate planning design balances providing for the surviving spouse and either party's desire to pass premarital assets to pre-marriage children.

Because of the issues unique to subsequent marriages, many ownership structures and asset titling strategies common to first marriage estate plans may not be appropriate for second marriages. Joint tenancy property can trigger more complex probate and, in some cases, tax issues for clients in second marriages.

Planners must understand the advantages and limitations of trusts such as qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trusts as a means of providing for a surviving spouse while preserving assets for children or other beneficiaries.

Additionally, estate planning counsel must structure testamentary and trust documents to shield against beneficiary challenges, which are more likely when children from prior marriages are involved may result in litigation. Estate planners should know the impact of in terrorem clauses in wills and trust operating documents and structuring powers of appointment to preserve the client's intent.

Listen as our experienced panel provides a thorough and practical guide to the technical aspects of designing and implementing estate plans for second marriages and blended families.



  1. Estate planning challenges unique to clients in second marriages or with blended families
  2. Impact of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements on estate plans
  3. Balancing maintenance of surviving spouse with a desire to pass on premarital assets to children or other beneficiaries
  4. Trust structuring
  5. Protecting against beneficiary challenges and litigation


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the marital deduction transfers available to provide for surviving spouses while preserving assets for children from prior marriages?
  • What are the advantages and limitations of QTIP trusts?
  • What mechanisms must estate planners be aware of to protect estate plans involving blended families from beneficiary challenges?
  • What is the potential claim that can arise and effective strategies for handling litigation?
  • Structuring unitrusts for clients with blended families


Brancato, Laura
Laura M. Brancato

Littman Krooks

Ms. Brancato focuses her practice on elder law, medicaid planning, estate litigation and planning and special education...  |  Read More

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