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.
Additional Reading: The Importance of Estate Planning for Blended Families