Every family is unique, and as blended families become more common those unique concerns can impact many aspects of their lives. This is especially true when parents create their estate plans. While these plans are a necessary way for many to protect their loved ones, they also require careful thought and experienced legal guidance to address the unique concerns of a blended family. As you create an estate plan for your blended family, what should you consider?
Put your plan in writing.
You trust your spouse to treat your children as their own, but it is still essential to create an estate plan to protect your children from a prior relationship. Your children may not receive the assets you want them to inherit without an estate plan in place, but putting your wishes in writing can prevent these issues.
Consider trusts to protect your child’s inheritance.
As Forbes notes, placing your assets in trust allows you to set aside funds for your children that might otherwise go to your spouse instead. This can prevent you from accidentally disinheriting your child and protect your child’s inheritance if your spouse were to remarry after your death. A trust, on the other hand, can defend the assets you want to set aside for your children,
Consider who will act as your child’s guardian.
You want to know that your children will be cared for after you pass away, and naming a guardian can be essential in giving them the support they need. Will their other parent care for them if you pass away? Will your spouse be willing and able to care for your children alone? Would your children instead live with another friend or relative? Choose the person you trust to care for your child and raise them well if you cannot do so yourself.
If your children are older, discuss your estate plan with them.
Whether your children have entered their teen years or are legal adults, it can be important to discuss your plan with them to prevent potential conflict in the future. Your adult children may, for example, disagree with your spouse about your medical care after an accident, but having a frank discussion can reassure them and ensure that they understand your wishes.
Consider working with an attorney to ensure that your plan works for your family.
Because of the complexities of estate planning for blended families, it can be helpful to seek experienced legal guidance. This can help you explore your options, address potential issues and create a plan that protects and provides for your spouse, your children and your stepchildren alike.