For the Blended Family, Estate Planning is Tricky

Are you divorced, remarried, or widowed? If so, estate planning will be extra tricky. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are in a blended family situation, you will simply have more opportunities to make mistakes. That being said, you also want to make sure that your assets are distributed to your current spouse, and not your ex.

If you have stepchildren, children from a previous marriage, or children from two or more marriages, these issues will need special attention, especially if you wish to customize your estate plan to disinherit a child or include a stepchild that wouldn’t normally inherit from you.

When you have a blended family, you want to ensure that your estate plan carries out your wishes, and that your assets don’t unintentionally end up in the wrong hands due to a lack of understanding of your state’s laws.

Also, you may not see eye-to-eye with your ex-spouse, or your current one. Who will take care of your children if you pass away, your ex-spouse or your current spouse? Will you leave part of your estate to your step-children? Do you want your children from your first marriage to receive the lion share of your estate instead of your new spouse?

Asking the Right Estate Planning Questions

Having a blended family complicates matters, especially when there are children and stepchildren involved. In the case of a second or subsequent marriage, you want to work through the details while you’re still around so your loved ones won’t end up in a legal battle over your estate after you pass.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Who do you want to receive your money when you die?
  • Who will provide for your children if you pass?
  • Do you want to legally adopt your stepchildren? Do you want your spouse to adopt your children from a previous marriage?
  • Who will raise your children? Your spouse or their biological parent?
  • What do you want to do for your surviving spouse?
  • Who will make financial and medical decisions if you become disabled?
  • What are your state’s marital property laws? For example, in a community property state, such as California, both spouses are entitled to 50 percent of all property acquired during the marriage.
  • Do you have a prenuptial agreement? If not, do you want a postnuptial agreement?

When considering your blended family and what you want to have happen, think about your children, your spouse, and the age and health of you and your spouse. If there is a big age difference, who is likely to die first, and how would the death affect the rest of the family?

In order to protect your assets and your wishes, reach out to an estate planning attorney who can create a sound estate plan that accommodates your blended family. You deserve peace of mind.