Blended and Extended Families

Once upon a time, the “typical” family was the nuclear family – husband, wife, and their children. But today’s families are more diverse, with many people on their second or third marriage (or more), often bringing children from a prior relationship. And there are plenty of couples cohabitating for years but choosing not to get married. As a matter of fact, today less than half of the children growing up in America are in a traditional family.

It’s time for estate planning to catch up!

Traditional estate planning is really designed around the nuclear family – If the husband passes away first, the wife gets everything; if the wife passes away first, the husband gets it all; and when the second one passes away, divide it equally among the children.  It’s simple. It’s easy. And it’s completely ineffective for the modern family.

Then how should we plan the estate?

That’s entirely up to you! Each family is different, and so a good division for one family could be completely wrong for another. The most important consideration is, of course, any minor children – who should take care of them, and how to secure your fortune for their benefit. But that's discussed in another article.  The next consideration is what to leave to your (current) spouse or partner, what to divvy up among your children, and whether to include your partner’s children. Maybe you both have your separate fortunes, and each should keep their own, or maybe one of you is wealthy and wants to make sure the other is provided for. 

There is no right answer – but there is the legal answer. In both Minnesota and North Dakota, a spouse is legally entitled to a share of the estate, whereas a non-married partner is entitled to nothing, so your spouse or partner may end up with more, or less, than intended. 

A common mistake is to assume that people will respect your wishes after you pass away. Sometimes, people will honor the wishes of the dearly departed, but some people are less reliable than their loved ones thought. You never know where money is involved. Even if you trust your loved ones completely, they may be incompetent at the time and his or her conservator could push their claim! 


Simple solutions solve simple problems.  We at Forks Law are here to help you protect your family.  Schedule a free consultation today!

The modern family is more complex than the traditional family unit, and requires a more complex plan to address their needs. We at Forks Law are here to help. Schedule a free consultation today to learn how to protect your family.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation