The Importance of Estate Planning for Blended Families
These days, it is not unusual to be part of a blended family. Parents get divorced, and when they remarry, they may be bringing their new spouse’s children into the relationship. There may also be property purchases made or other assets attained in the new marriage.
While this is a relatively normal part of life these days for many families, it may have implications on estate planning. While planning for the people you love can be more complicated with a blended family, it is not impossible. Here is a look at how to handle estate planning with a blended family.
The Estate Planning Process
The first step in estate planning with a blended family is naming everyone involved in your estate in your documents. This includes naming who will act in your interests upon your death, and who will receive your assets and possessions. Take some time to really think this through, and figure out who is involved.
When this is complete, it is time to divvy up your possessions and assets to decide who is getting what. This should include things such as financial needs for surviving spouses, young children, and other dependents. It is also worth thinking about any prenuptial agreements or divorce agreements you may be tied into. Again, take some time, to really think about who you would like to see get what, and how they might benefit from it. Think about all the scenarios that may play out, even if they are unpleasant.
Write down the specific things you want to see go to your children and make a note to make sure it is included in your estate plan. Sometimes, people are not specific about who gets what when involved in a blended family, which can lead to infighting and resentment in the family after your death.
Establishing a Trust, Living Will, or a Healthcare Power of Attorney
It may be worth looking into a trust for certain things. You may want to establish a trust that benefits your spouse while putting your property in a trust that may make it more accessible for your children. There are a number of options available for doing things like this. An experienced estate planning attorney at The Mattar Firm can help you to pick the best options for you and your family.
You may also want to look into establishing a living will and a healthcare power of attorney, in the event that you become incapacitated with an illness. A living will, if done right, will explain your wishes in great detail, and make sure they are carried out. Establishing a healthcare power of attorney ensures that medical decisions are made with your best interests at heart.
In both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney, you will have to designate a person to carry out your wishes. This should be someone you trust implicitly to follow through with your wishes. The person you select should also be able to get along with the rest of the family, in order to avoid infighting and other issues.
What happens if I do not have an Estate Plan?
If you decide to not make any arrangements, your estate will go through the probate process, and the courts will determine who your estate goes to. You will have no say how your assets are divided, or whom they go to. In cases like this, it is likely that your stepchildren would receive nothing. This is not a great scenario for anyone involved and can lead to resentment and hurt feelings in the family after you are gone.
Contact The Mattar Firm
If you are part of a blended family, and ready to start looking at estate planning, contact an estate planning attorney at The Mattar Firm. Our attorneys will be able to put you on the right path and give you control over your assets, even after your death. Contact us today at 239-222-2222.