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Estate Planning for Blended Families – What you should Know

A study found that more than 40% of Americans are raised in blended families. A lot of respondents are happy with their connections with their step-families. Most people have a stronger feeling of duty to their biological relatives. Planning asset distributions for blended families is challenging because of this.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate planning is the process of organizing the affairs of your property and assets. This is to ensure your family members can take over in the event of your death or disablement.

The first step in the right direction is to discuss with an estate planning lawyers.

You must lay a solid foundation before attempting to construct for the future. Many families with sizable riches only last for three generations at most.  Not to even consider the situation of blended homes. One generation creates, another wastes, while lawsuits never end.

The estate planning process for blended families may appear difficult. You can prevent legal complications in the future  by creating a detailed strategy. Often, sharing your dream ideas with your partner is the greatest way to start this process.

Who passes away first? This is a difficult question for couples to respond to. But in their wills, married people bequeath everything to one another. If you die first, your spouse will be the sole owner of all your assets.

In blended families, there is a risk that your spouse may decide not to bequeath some of your assets to your children from a prior relationship. It’s also possible that your partner will choose to remarry – and welcome new children into the family.

In such a case, your assets may pass down to children with whom you have no relationship.

Leaving your children without anything is what your mind can’t want to settle for.

Estate Planning Laws and Issues with Blended Families

Blended families have more emotional and complex financial challenges than monogamous families do; especially when trying to balance the conflicting interests among different parties.

It is possible estates are not planned, and a person dies without a will. Their possession is distributed to their nearest relatives. If you die ” intestate,” your assets are subject to the state’s estate planning laws.

It is crucial to think about estate planning after entering another marriage. This is due to the fact that some important topics are susceptible to being ignored. These might put your new spouse, your first marriage’s children, or even both of them at a disadvantage.

It’s crucial to be able to plan your estate so that everyone concerned can take care of things. You do not want your relatives to suffer emotional hurt from the memories of your passing.

Estate Planning and Will

An integral part of estate planning is a will. A will is often described as a last will and testament.  It specifies how an individual wants their assets to be divided after death.

Without an estate plan and will, assets are distributed by the inheritance laws of your state. This means that your spouse and children will divide your assets without your input. It’s likely that nothing will be left to your children from previous marriages.

Estate Planning Checklist for Blended Families

While planning your estate for a blended family, as comprehensive as you can, is a solid general rule. Spend some time with your spouse—and, in certain situations, your ex. Make sure that your estate plan provides for each child.

There are many choices that can help you provide for your children.  This gives them the necessary financial support following your passing. Consider the following estate planning checklist:

  1. Your Estate Plan Should Surpass a Will

Beyond leaving everything to your surviving spouse, your will should include further provisions. In case of missing, it creates the risk that your other kids might later be excluded from your spouse’s estate.

Be aware that your partner may decide to ignore your children. After your death they may leave all your property to their own kids, a new partner, or anyone else they choose. Your partner is under no duty to care for your kids.

  1. Set Up a Trust

Put some or all your assets in a trust. Allow your partner access to it during their lifetime. You can provide for your spouse while also taking care of your children. Then, everything held in the trust can pass to your children after the death of your spouse.

  1. Selecting a Trustee

Make sure to choose an expert trustee to oversee your trust after your passing. It’s crucial to select a fair party that can remain impartial to all parties. Experts suggest choosing a bank or other impartial trustee.

  1. 401(k) Plans and Life Insurance

Another option to support a blended family is through life insurance. Name your spouse as the beneficiary of the majority of your assets. Also, name your children as beneficiaries on a life insurance policy to provide for them.

  1. Open Honest Conversation about the Process

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Without the family’s consent, estate planning can cause friction. Family gatherings provide an avenue for discussion and planning.

Maintaining meaningful and continuous communication among all parties involved is essential. Open, frank, and ongoing communication allows all parties to reach an understanding.

  1. What if Your Partner Remarries?

In the event that your spouse remarries, a trust can guarantee that the assets are protected. In the event that you die and your partner is left without support, you want to take care of them. A provision in your trust may alter the rules of distributions. This is in the event that they decide to marry again.

Start by Talking to an Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning attorney focuses on handling estate planning issues.

Estate planning lawyers’ responsibilities differ. But they all revolve around helping clients plan to distribute the assets and property after their demise.  Also, the financial legacy they’ll leave behind.

Among many other things, your estate planning lawyer does the following:

1. Act as a legal mentor. 

2. They can also help you to reduce any inheritance or estate taxes.

3. They can assist you with creating trust and a last will and testament.

4. They can also provide help with probate if that is also required.

5. They can assist in carrying out your wishes after death or disability scenarios. The usual step in this process can be to assign the power of attorney. Also, drafting a living will or making any other type of prior instruction to your family.

6. They can help your executor transfer assets to your beneficiaries when you die.

The Cost of Estate Planning Attorney

Generally speaking, you pay as much as your lawyer works on your estate. An estate planning lawyer will often explain their rates up front when you consult them. These can include initial consultation fees, hourly costs, and fixed fees.

Meeting with the lawyer for the first time for an hour or so, firms charge a starting fee. Review your estate planning requirements at this point to see if you two are a suitable fit. So that you may compare prices between each attorney, if at all possible, request a quote in advance.

Final Thoughts

It’s natural to believe that family love will address this issue. But, that is not the case. The stress of appearing in court or upsetting your family’s feelings can be avoided.

Create a plan with the help of an estate planning attorney.  Also, keep all parties informed during the process.

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