powers of attorney | Sharkey, Howes & Javer

Financial Planning for Blended Families: 3 Stages of Life

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Planning Your Family Finances | Sharkey, Howes & Javer

The idea of a “traditional” family is ever evolving, and the United States Census Bureau has the research available that clearly outlines the profound shift in family formation. The reports show that families made up of two married heterosexual parents raising their biological children under age 18 now comprises only 20% of households, down from 40% in 1970.

As the traditional family reforms into modern day living, the financial challenges felt by blended families continue to increase. Although there are many definitions of blended families, we are focusing on second marriages and parents sharing custody of children from previous marriages for the purposes of this article.

There is no clear cut “right or wrong” way of managing household finances. Each family needs to find the method that works best for them. We have helped many blended families organize their financial lives, and here are a few themes we find in three different general stages of life.

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Estate Planning

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There was a time when reducing a very onerous form of taxation was reason enough to endure the complexities and frequent confusion associated with planning one’s estate. Many of the decisions were focused solely on death, and the process frequently sidestepped the more common and important issues like long-term care, mental incapacity and property ownership.

Currently, only estates in excess of $5.43 million are subject to an estate tax and those who are married can have a combined estate of nearly $11 million. Hence, it turns out the estate tax should not be the main motivation for most of us to do estate planning.

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