Estate Planning for Non-Traditional Families


Although everyone needs an estate plan, estate planning becomes particularly important when you are part of a non-traditional family.

Non-traditional families include:

  • Same sex couples
  • Heterosexual couples who live together, but are not legally married
  • Families where one or both spouses have children from a previous marriage
  • Families where someone is viewed as "like a child" -- but is not legally considered a relative

Without an estate plan, your assets are distributed according to your state's intestacy laws. In California, these laws state that marital property goes to your spouse, and children inherit a portion of your separate property. However, this assumes that you are legally married and have children who are biologically related or have been formally adopted. If you live with a long term partner you've never married and treat his or her child as your own, intestacy laws don't recognize these relationships. Your property would be distributed as if you were a single, childless adult -- which means either your parents or siblings would inherit your assets.

Having a properly prepared will ensures that your assets are left to those you care most about. If you're on your second or third marriage and have children from one or more of these previous relationships, you may need to establish a trust as well. Do not rely on a simple verbal agreement where your spouse uses assets after you pass as long as he or she promises to distribute leftover money to your children.

How Can We Help?

If you're part of a non-traditional family, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you evaluate your options and create an estate plan that best addresses your unique needs. If you are in need of legal representation relating to an estate planning issue, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our Pasadena family practice attorneys are happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns and make sure your interests are protected no matter what the future holds.