What "The Brady Bunch" Didn't Talk About
The iconic television series, The Brady Bunch, first aired in the late 60's, early 70's and revolved around a large "blended" family. The simple definition of a blended family is one in which at least one parent has children that are not biologically related to the other parent. The show gave the impression that all the kids got along, mom and dad had no issues with ex-spouses, and everything is perfect with their beautiful family.
In the real world, blended families result from various life changes such as divorce, remarriage, death and even adoption, thus when it comes to estate planning, things can get tricky. There are several things to talk about, and the sooner the better - some of which, Mike and Carol Brady could have at least mentioned!
Set Goals & Identify Priorities
As with ANY estate plan, your documents should be tailored to YOUR situation. Talk about who will be the beneficiaries of cash, real estate, government benefits, etc. Also, identify both how and when they will receive parts of your estate. It is a common misconception that if you die without a will, all of your estate passes to your spouse. You may want to ensure that parts of your estate are transferred to both your spouse and your children.
This is vitally important when it comes to blended families. Check things such as vehicle titles, life insurance, retirement accounts, stocks, annuities, etc. If you never update or change your current estate plan, your EX-Spouse (if left designated) will be the beneficiary. Can we say…awkward!
Close all Joint Accounts
Further to the updating of beneficiaries, it is equally important to close previously shared joint-accounts. When one owner dies, the account will automatically be passed with full ownership to the surviving owner. Since an owner of a joint- account cannot be removed, it must be closed altogether to dissolve ownership and a new account must be opened in its place.
Revoke Previous Powers of Attorney
Simply put, if you had any sort of estate plan created during your previous marriage, you more than likely gave your spouse the right to act on your behalf via power of attorney. ABSOLUTELY, check with your attorney to confirm the state code for revoke this authority and work with them to also create a new one, designation
Choose a Personal Representative for Your Estate
Pick someone to represent you, and choose wisely. This person also named the 'executor' of your estate, will ensure that your planning wishes are carried out upon your passing. In some instances, blended families may opt to designate co-executors, one from each side of the family perhaps.
Given all the items above when creating a new family, all of your important legal and financial documents should be recreated from scratch. Contact us today so that we may assist with creating and revising documents such as your WILL, POWER OF ATTORNEY, HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVE, LIVING WILL, TRUST and much more.
Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC is a professional law corporation that provides a complete range of estate planning services including trusts, wills, powers of attorney and more. Our attorneys will work with you to develop and implement an estate plan specifically designed for you, your family, your business, your property, and your wishes. We use every legal tool at our disposal, along with our extensive real-world experience, to develop personalized estate plans for every client.
So plan ahead and call us today for your consultation. With Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC at your side, together we can secure your estate for the future.
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