Estate Planning for Your Blended Family

About half of all first marriages end in divorce. With that in mind, there is a strong probability that you are a stepparent, your spouse is, or your ex has remarried and your son or daughter is in a stepparent relationship.

Millions of Americans are divorced, remarried or widowed, and for them, estate planning is more complex than it is for intact families. If you’re in a blended family, there’s more likelihood of misunderstanding your state’s inheritance laws, or of something going wrong.

You don’t want your ex getting your new spouse’s share and if you have stepchildren, there are special considerations, especially if you want them to be treated differently than your biological children from your first marriage.

Additionally, you may not see eye-to-eye with your former or new spouse on important decisions regarding guardianship of your minor children or how assets are to be distributed, so these must be addressed.

Ask Yourself These Important Questions

Your hard-earned assets are important to you, and you care very much about who gets them. But if you do not work out the details with an estate planning attorney, they could end up in the wrong hands should something happen to you.

Here are some important questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I know my state’s intestacy (to die without a will) laws?
  • Have I updated my beneficiary designations?
  • What do I want to occur when I pass away?
  • Who will raise my children? My surviving spouse or their other parent?
  • What do I want to leave for my surviving spouse?
  • Am I willing to have an estate planning conversation with my new spouse?
  • Who do I want to handle my estate when I die?
  • Do I want to leave assets to my stepchildren?
  • Do I want to disinherit a son or daughter?

As you think about updating your estate plan, consider the age and wealth differences between you and your spouse. If you remarried, did you execute a prenuptial agreement? If not, should you draft a postnuptial agreement?

Is there a big age difference between you and your new spouse, and if so, who will likely pass away first? Once you have an idea as to what you would like to see happen, reach out to an estate planning lawyer to put your wishes into a legally enforceable estate plan.