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Can't We All Just Get Along?

Having a blended family can come with some challenges. One of these challenges is ensuring a surviving spouse has enough to live on while also protecting the children’s inheritance. Over the years, I’ve represented numerous blended families. In almost every case, couples are concerned about two seemingly competing interests: (1) leaving enough for the surviving spouse and (2) leaving something for the children.

Here’s why it can be a problem. In many cases, most of a couple’s assets are jointly owned. This means assets immediately pass to the surviving spouse upon the death of the first spouse. Other assets, such as IRAs, 401Ks, and life insurance policy proceeds typically name the surviving spouse as the primary beneficiary. In both scenarios, the surviving spouse has no legal obligation to pass any portion of those assets to the children of the spouse who died first.

So what can be done? One option is to simply trust the surviving spouse to do the right thing. Unfortunately, as time passes, relationships are often strained, and the surviving spouse may leave everything to his/her own children. The second, better option is to create a QTIP trust. A QTIP trust guarantees the wellbeing of the surviving spouse but also ensures that children of both spouses receive their fair share of inheritance.

If you’re interested in a free consultation to find out how I can help your blended family solve this potential problem, please contact me at (813) 244-7758 or



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