Blended families increasingly are common, occurring when two people enter into a subsequent marriage after prior marriages end in death or divorce. While these relationships present many opportunities for joy and happiness, they also bring with them unique estate planning challenges, especially when children from previous marriages are involved. These challenges usually happen when one spouse dies, leaving their estate to the other spouse. When the second spouse passes away, their estate will typically pass to their biological children – leaving their first spouse’s children without an inheritance from their parent. This is a common occurrence when proper estate planning has not been done after a second or third marriage.
Proper estate planning for blended families can save a family from a lot of bad feelings and can help keep relationships strong for each family member. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you figure out what your goals are concerning your estate, and also help you examine what your current estate looks like. This will allow you to make better decisions concerning what you’d like to have passed to your spouse, and what you’d like to go to your children immediately after you die. You may also want to make a list of any specific items or assets that should pass to certain individuals in the event of your death, and make sure that the list is kept in a safe place that is known by your executor or trustee.
If you already have an estate plan in place that addresses your blended family, you may want to take the time to review it with your estate planning attorney. As situations in your family change, you’ll want to make sure your estate plan keeps up with those changes. In addition, you may want to explore other estate planning techniques, such as the use of revocable or irrevocable trusts, to help ensure that your legacy is passed down to your beneficiaries without any significant issues. You can also take the time to make sure your designation documents (Power of Attorney and Living Will) are up to date and reflect your current wishes.
If you would like to learn more about proper estate planning for blended families, or if you’d like to discuss your existing estate plan and how it matches up with your current family situation, please set up an appointment at our Greensboro estate planning office by calling (336) 378-1122.