The holiday season is upon us and with Thanksgiving right around the corner,
family is in the forefront of your mind. It’s a time for food, fun
and animated conversations around the dinner table as you catch up with
family and friends. Whether time is spent reflecting with friends, family,
or friends that are family, these invaluable moments are also a great
time to talk about the future.
If you are a member of a “blended” family (second marriage
or children from different parents) it is even more important to talk
to one another about planning for death or incapacity. Estate planning
for blended families is especially necessary when one considers that the
concept of family is not as cookie cutter as it was in the past. The excitement
and joy of such blended families can easily become confusing and convoluted
with an untimely death or illness of someone close to you, so it is critical
to have your estate plan in order. With a properly prepared estate plan,
your blended family can avoid the pain and the cost of dealing with a
messy estate settlement.
Have you adopted a child or have custody of a minor child? Have you been
married previously? Do you have biological children with someone other
than your spouse? These are all questions that come into play when considering
estate planning for blended families. It is important to ensure that your
property and assets are passed down according to your explicit wishes.
Providing for your spouse and dependents is your main concern. Take time
to plan ahead and take a look at what you hope to include in your estate
plan for your blended family. With your estate plan in place you can be
certain that your assets are distributed according to your plan, and with
as little stress on your family as possible.
Tips for Success
Take Some Time, Talk It Out
In order to properly prepare for the future of your blended family, taking
a “time out” to assess and analyze your situation is a must.
Take time away from distractions, kids, and work stress to speak openly
with your spouse about your shared goals, and how you would like to see
your estate distributed. Reflect upon this important issue, listen to
each other, share ideas, and take notes. Make sure you are on the same
page! It helps to think through every scenario, addressing as many questions
and issues as possible when considering what your estate plan will look
like for your blended family. Working through this together now may not
be the most fun conversation, but it will spare a great deal of stress later on.
Be sure to double check who you have listed as a beneficiary! With the
many life changes that come with a blended family, a new marriage, and
possibly new children, it may be easy to forget who you have listed as
your beneficiaries. Retirement accounts, insurance policies… Double
check to be sure they are up to date and in line with your current situation
and your wishes for your estate plan and your blended family..
Clarity will only help when it comes to estate planning for blended families!
Start forming explicit lists of items or properties you wish to be passed
down to children or your spouse or partner. Create a mental check list
of your most important items and possessions. Write down exactly who should
receive each asset in the case of your passing. Failing to designate where
specific assets should go after passing will only cause confusion and
disappointment. Loved ones often expect certain assets to remain in the
family, failing to list items and assign specific inheritors put them
at risk. With an estate plan in place you are able to make the decision
and have someone you trust carry that out for you in the manner in which
you intended for your blended family.
Understand your Options
Avoid leaving your blended family out to dry when it comes to making sense
of your estate. There are options that can be tailored specifically for
your unique family situation! Many blended families utilize a trust to
ensure that their wishes are upheld after parting. Other options can help
to lower your estate taxes and the burden on your loved ones. Becoming
aware of your options is crucial for creating a plan of action. Do the
research to find out what is best for your blended family’s future.
Call us to set up a time to discuss creating an estate plan for your blended family.
Find Someone Who Can Help
You need to be certain that your spouse and children have everything they
need to thrive after your passing. Planning for the future is a must.
So start talking about it today! The process of sorting out assets for
your blended family can be done with an estate planning lawyer to walk
you through the process, helping you create an estate plan based on your
wishes which provides for your blended family after your passing.