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Can the TV show "Modern Family" teach estate planning?

Many Tennessee readers are familiar with the hit television show "Modern Family." The show focuses on the experiences of an extended family, with several different types of relationships featured between the show's characters. That provides an excellent opportunity to discuss various estate planning approaches.

The patriarch of the family is married to a much younger woman, and they are raising her child from a previous union. He has two adult children. This means that their estate planning approach would likely focus on long-term care planning, as well as ensuring that wealth was passed down to both the new wife and adult children if the patriarch was to predecease his loved ones.

One of those adult children is in a committed same-sex relationship. The couple have adopted two children and would need to be very careful in their estate planning approach. Same-sex couples still face a number of legal challenges, and estate planning issues are a common source of contention amongst surviving family members. The other adult child is married with biological children. That nuclear family would likely take a traditional estate planning approach, focusing on how to best pass down assets to their surviving children.

Many Tennessee fans may find it distressing to imagine the death of their favorite "Modern Family" characters. However, this approach is a great way to illustrate the various estate planning options available to all families, no matter how traditional or nontraditional they may be. Fortunately, there is an estate planning solution available to fit virtually any set of needs.

Source: charlotteobserver.com, "Estate Planning for the "Modern Family", David T. Dufault, Sept. 9, 2016

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