Divorces and remarriages have led to a significant shift in the makeup of today’s families. Ex-spouses, step-children, and other relationships require you to consider new ways to provide for your loved ones when you’re no longer around.
Estate planning for these “blended” families is an essential step in passing along your assets and ensuring that they’re protected for the wellbeing of others.
Working with an estate planner who understands the needs of blended families is a critical step in securing the value of your estate and making sure that your loved ones receive the assets they need.
Blended Family Needs
Larger families may have a higher likelihood of disagreements and conflicting goals. Understanding the needs of everyone helps you create a more successful estate plan.
It’s been estimated that up to fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. The need for estate planning for blended families has increased as a result. This has led to unique circumstances that require estate plans tailored to their needs.
An individual may want to leave assets to a spouse. In other cases, they may want to leave assets to the surviving partner as well as their children.
But some may choose to leave assets to their own children and exclude stepchildren from a second or third marriage. This requires assets to remain separate. Estate planning tools can help you accomplish these and other goals.
Wills and trusts let you dictate how assets are distributed at the time of death. But you need to consider the value of your assets and the shares that will be distributed to your loved ones.
Estate Planning Issues That Affect Blended Families
You may want to leave assets to your spouse while restricting how those assets will be passed on. Trusts allow you to achieve your specific goals and make sure that your wishes are carried out.
Using a trust, you can leave assets behind while instructing how those assets can (or can’t) be distributed to others. For example, your spouse may remarry in the future, but you may choose to prevent the redistribution of your assets to a future spouse.
Also, a surviving spouse may choose to distribute the assets you’ve left behind to their children at the exclusion of your own children.
The right estate plan lets you determine the future of your assets so that you provide the maximum benefits to the beneficiaries you choose.
Other assets such as retirement accounts may be subject to future tax liabilities. This can reduce the value of assets that are received by family members.
Meeting Your Estate Planning Goals
If you choose to leave assets to your own children and not the children of your current partner, you need to make sure that you keep assets separated accordingly.
Joint assets can be difficult to separate, and it’s best to create estate plans for each spouse so that your assets remain your own.
If you choose to leave your assets to your spouse while also providing for your own children, then you’ll need to consider different estate planning strategies.
Using a trust, you can leave estate assets to your spouse with the intent of benefiting your children as well. Your estate planning attorney will help you include the provisions you need to accomplish these and other goals.
The amount that you want to leave behind as well as the level of control that you want surviving family members to have over your estate are other factors that can be addressed through estate planning.
Blended families consist of ex-spouses, children, and step-children. Planning for their financial future and the distribution of your estate can be complicated if you don’t have the legal resources you need.
Consulting with your estate planning attorney provides you with a sound estate plan that protects and maximizes the value of your estate while providing for those you love.