The modern American family is not constructed in any set pattern. While at one point in time the typical American family consisted of two married parents and many children, that construction eventually shifted to two married parents and a few children. Currently, the modern American family has no “typical” size, number of members or relational structure. Now, the prevalence of divorce, adoption, remarriage and a host of other factors have led the American family to emerge in a variety of forms.

Non-traditional family structures can pose a bit of a challenge for individuals as they think about estate planning. Certainly, an attorney experienced in this area of law can help individuals navigate wills, trusts and other estate-related documentation regardless of whether the families being affected by these documents are traditional or non-traditional in structure. However, the model of the family itself may pose some problems as individuals try to determine the construction of their wills specifically and estate plans generally.

Individuals may wonder who to include in their wills and whether everyone affected by the will should be left a similar share of assets. The beauty of estate planning is that it can generally be influenced by your values and priorities. For example, if you view your biological children, children by marriage and “honorary” children who are not related to you but who feel like family all as your children, you can split your assets among them however you please.

It is simply important that you make the effort to execute an enforceable estate plan, which your attorney can aid you in doing. The law simply needs to know your wishes and to have those wishes be made legally known. The contents of those wishes is entirely up to you.

Source: Elder Law Answers, “5 Estate Planning Tips for the Non-Traditional Family (Which Probably Means Yours),” Accessed January, 2015