Estate Planning Blended Families
Estate Planning for Blended Families |
Strategies for Second Marriages
Blended families pose unique challenges for estate planning attorneys and their clients. Our attorneys have specific experience handling the family issues that arise after the death or disability of a parent or spouse with a blended family. Without this experience the following issues can destroy the family relationships and the assets that were left for inheritance. This is a growing challenge, because basic estate planning will not prevent these conflicts. Blended families need more than a basic Will or Trust.
Blended Family Estate Planning
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Blended Families and Estate Planning
First and foremost, if you have a blended family then you will need to pay special attention to scenarios that can cause problems in the family unit. The current relationships are important to consider, because these relationships don’t usually improve if you are out of the picture and inheritance is involved.
The current relationships and dynamics of a blended family are important to think about.
- Sometimes the children from a previous marriage are excluded because of the resentment from the divorce and the years of difficulty that followed. Other problems are caused if you don’t honestly look at the current relationships
- How close is your spouse with your kids?
- How close are you with your spouse’s kids?
- How kind are the kids to you or your spouse now?
- How kind is your spouse to your kids?
The choice of trustee for a blended family also involves the following issues.
- Who in the family do you trust to take care of you personally (helping with doctors and medical decisions) if your spouse isn’t living?
- Should an independent third party take care of your finances for you and your spouse if one or both of you are unable to do so in the future due to an injury, illness or old age?
What are your rights to amend the Trust after the death of one spouse?
- Should your spouse have the right to disinherit your kids?
- Can you disinherit your spouse’s kids if they cause you grief?
- Do you want to be required to provide annual accountings and reports to your spouse’s children when your spouse is gone and explain how you are spending “their inheritance”?
Is there a right way or wrong way to plan for blended families?
Yes – discussing these issues with your spouse can be difficult and cause arguments and hurt feelings. Many couples don’t agree on how they should include the other ones’ children.
What if you have his, hers and OURs …when it comes to children?
The good news is that you don’t have to have these difficult discussions with your spouse before you do your planning.
Instead, if you are working with experienced trust attorneys like those with our firm, then we can address these issues by giving you solutions and examples of what has worked for other families at the beginning of the discussion. Our trust attorneys have such valuable experience in this area, that when we start with solutions and recommendations that have worked, it avoids arguments and frustrating conversations for you and your spouse.
Experienced Legal Counsel
Here are some important examples of how we protect our clients with blended families beyond just the preparation of their Estate Planning documents (Trust, Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive, etc.):
- Beneficiary designations on IRAs, 401(k)s, life insurance, annuities or other investments can supersede the existing wishes in a Will or Trust, so these need to match the Trust instructions.
- Out-dated PreNuptial Agreements can conflict with a Will or Trust and cause years of litigation to wait for a Court to decide how to deal with conflicting documents, so this needs to be addressed in your Trust.
This information is provided as a legal advisory and does not provide any specific legal advice to any individual case.
Our solutions are designed to prevent the following examples of typical problems combined families experience:
- Delayed inheritance due to the trust document.
- Children being disinherited from past or former spouse
- Protecting assets from past and former spouses
- And on and on.
Based on the above, you can see how imperative is to work with an experienced estate planning law firm that has been actively working with blended families. Contact Hess-Verdon & Associates now and speak to one of our attorneys. (call 949-706-7300)
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