March 12, 2021
ESTATE PLANNING FOR BLENDED FAMILIES
Often times, spouses will bring children into a marriage from a prior marriage or union and then also have children together. This is generally referred to as a blended family. Blended families highlight the need for careful estate planning to make sure the needs of each spouse are met, as well as the needs of each parents’ children.
Poor estate planning can cause more than friction between the step-parent and step-children when the parent/spouse passes away.
Most parents want to ensure that their assets will pass to their children and/or grandchildren. However, without careful estate planning, there is no guarantee that their children will inherit assets in blended families. Poor planning usually leads to litigation and bitter fights between family members.
For example, if the couple creates identical wills such that their assets pass to the survivor of them, there is a significant likelihood the deceased spouse’s children will be disinherited. This is because all of the assets will pass to the surviving spouse to do with as he or she pleases. This means the surviving spouse is able to exclude his or her step-children – the deceased spouse’s children – who then receive nothing.
Another common occurrence is for each spouse to name the other as a beneficiary on accounts or pieces of real property. Doing so means the asset will belong solely to the surviving spouse, regardless of what the estate planning documents provide.
A trust, however, can allow a spouse/parent to “rule from the grave.” At the death of the first spouse half of the trust assets can be locked down. With this type of planning, each spouse can have the assurance that their share of the trust assets (or one half) will pass to their children, grandchildren or any other person they wish. The remaining assets are used for the surviving spouse, and will then pass as that spouse wishes.
We help families of all types plan so that their savings, home and other property passes the way they intend. This involves getting to know you and your family and having a complete understanding of each spouse’s wishes. If you’d like to discuss your particular situation, please give us a call. Please contact our office or give us a call at 1 (941) 777-4696.