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NJ residents consider impact of blended families on their estate

It's not a new statistic that over half of all marriages end in divorce. What's more is that of those divorced individuals, 75 percent of them will opt to walk down the aisle again, bringing with them the fruits of their first marriage -- their children.

With the changing dynamics of family structures today, more New Jersey couples are finding that with their new family also comes a new challenge for estate planning.

In addition to the challenges of creating an estate plan designed to keep blended family members content, more families today are also finding that their plan for funding their estate may not be what they intended.

Many Baby Boomers are the product of parents who struggled through the Depression era -- parents who save every nickel and dime. However, instead of passing on that hard earned savings to their waiting children, they have to use that money to cover their long-term care needs.

Let's face it; people are living a lot longer today and with that longevity is the expense of health care costs and housing.

The problem? Recent studies have shown that many Baby Boomers are not known for their stellar savings methods. They are known for a more spend it if you have it way of life -- and there lies the problem. When the recent recession hit the nation, far too many from the Baby Boomer generation had nothing to fall back on; not only did they lose their jobs, but what little they did have set aside also disappeared.

Coupled with the initial observance of remarriage and blended families, what little is being left to waiting Baby Boomer heirs, causes many to scramble to ensure the "I's" are dotted and "T's" are crossed on all estate planning documentation. Spouses want to ensure that if they do receive an inheritance that it does in fact stay in the family and not drift over to any new spouse's children or grandchildren.

What can happen to a well-planned family estate is changing drastically. If a person lives longer, the cost of caring for him or her can erode the family nest egg. At the same time, elderly family members are more at risk for being mistreated either financially or physically by people who provide their care.

Source: USAToday.com, "With more blended families, estate planning gets ugly," Haya El Nasser, March 14, 2012

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