The New Year means it is time to set new goals and resolutions that can guide our actions over the next 12 months. This new year in particular, is also the start of a new decade. This means, for many of us, that we are looking at what is both important to us now as well as ways to ensure that our loved ones are protected under all future circumstances. As you look at your estate plan, it is important to have confidence that it reflects your wishes and can achieve what you need well into the future.
Should estate planning be a priority for a blended family in the new year? The simple answer is yes. A blended family is one where there can be different spouses as well as children, and grandchildren, from different marriages who come together as a family unit. Let us share with you three concerns surrounding blended family estate planning that you may need to take into consideration now, and going into a new decade.
1. Crisis situations may cause conflict. None of us want to consider a time when we will no longer be here. Perhaps even more concerning is considering a time when our family members would not be able to live in a harmonious situation. Unfortunately, any form of crisis can cause conflict. This can be especially true when it comes to an estate planning family situation where children, grandchildren, and even spouses share different opinions on health care and financial decisions. Ensuring family harmony is just one of the reasons why updating and creating an estate plan that is sympathetic to these challenges may be able to help minimize issues in the future.
2. Different families may have different plans for the future. Similar to the above, adult children and grandchildren may have different goals for an aging parent or grandparent’s health care, finances or legacy. Without clear direction, and a good understanding of who is in charge, there may be additional issues. Do not wait or put off thinking about how important decisions should be handled within your own family structure, especially when it comes to designating the person in charge.
3. Remember, communication can be hard under any circumstance. Communication is not always easy. With more frequent access to casual communication as well, such as texting, miscommunication can happen quite easily. Talk to you loved ones about what you need. Know that helping each person in your family understand what his or her role will be in the future can be critical in ensuring your wishes are honored.
For all these reasons and more, do not put off thinking about the estate planning that you and your family need. Your goals for your blended family, as well as the state and federal laws governing your estate plan, can change over time. Do not put off scheduling a meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your plan can still reach your goals.