In modern society, the concept of a “traditional” family has evolved. It is increasingly common for individuals to remarry and “blend” their families together. While this may be a frequent occurrence, blending two family units together can bring certain challenges and hurdles to overcome.
This especially holds true when it comes to your estate planning.
From planning for minor or adult children, creating your legacy goals, and supporting the charities and causes you care about, estate planning can be a complicated topic for blended families to tackle, especially when there are significant assets involved. To help guide your estate planning design and ensure your loved ones and assets are protected after your death, let us share with you a few estate planning considerations for blended families.
First, did you know that spouses can leave the majority of their assets separately and create individual revocable trusts? It is not uncommon for spouses in blended families to create and maintain separate bank accounts. Further, if you are planning to leave assets in a trust for a surviving spouse, it is imperative that you choose the trustee carefully. To provide ample protection for your children, you may wish to appoint another trusted individual, in addition to your spouse, as trustee to ensure fair distribution upon your death.
Second, it is important to review your beneficiary designations. It may have been some time since you updated your beneficiaries. Remember, your assets are likely to go directly to your named beneficiaries. We encourage you to take some time to review who is entitled to certain assets, such as IRAs, to ensure your beneficiary designations reflect your current goals and needs. In addition, you may consider adding multiple primary beneficiaries, for example, your spouse and your children, and designating the percentage that each will receive to help avoid problems during probate.
Above all, when creating or updating an estate plan, communication is key. Do not hesitate to talk to your family and share your goals for your legacy. While planning for the end of your life can be overwhelming, if an estate plan comes as a surprise to your family, or certain members of your family feel left out, conflict may arise. Being open with your loved ones and ensuring that adequate protections are in place for both your spouse and children can help provide all parties involved with peace of mind.
These are just a few estate planning considerations for blended families.
It is important to note that every family is different. One of the most effective ways at creating an estate plan that fits your family model is to discuss your specific needs with an experienced estate planning attorney. If you have questions about anything raised in this article, or if you are ready to begin planning for your family, do not wait to contact our office to set up an appointment.