Blended families are becoming the norm in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, blended families aren’t just about divorced parents; thanks to modern medicine, many of us are outliving our spouses and ending up remarrying. As with any union, there are special estate planning considerations when becoming a blended family.
Here are the top seven estate planning tips for you and your blended family to consider:
- BE GOAL ORIENTED: You and your spouse should take time to figure out your estate planning goals, both separately and together. Your goals may have changed now that you are in this new relationship and it’s time to figure out where you want your assets to go now that your life has changed so significantly.
- TALK ABOUT IT: Talk to your spouse about finances. Have an honest conversation about what each of you have, what your goals are for the near and distant future, as well as what your fears are should you die before your spouse. If you are engaged and not yet married, you might want to consider a prenuptial agreement as a way of specifying your assets.
- BENEFICIARIES: It’s time to make sure you have provided for your spouse and children in the way you want. Make a lists of what you want your children to have and what you want your new spouse to have when you die. Then make or amend your current documents to make sure that you end up with your desired beneficiaries.
- LEARN: Educate yourself on what you need in place to meet your goals. Maybe a trust is the way to go to make sure you both provide for your spouse and leave your property to your children. All trusts are not created equal, though, and so learn about the different types and which is right for you.
- TIE IT UP: Make sure you’ve tied up all the loose ends from your previous marriage. For example, if you haven’t already, change the beneficiary designations on accounts for things such as life insurance and retirement accounts. If divorced, you should disinherit your ex-spouse as soon as possible, removing the ex-spouse as joint owner of vehicles, real estate, and any other jointly purchased assets.
- SHARE IT: No one wants to think about death when you are starting a new marriage, but it’s best to prepare your new spouse for your demise. This means sharing your personal and contact information with each other. Provide your spouse with information on your life insurance and other policies, along with information about your personal contacts.
- PROTECT IT: Talk to an estate attorney about the special issues blended families face prior to remarriage if possible. It’s best for you and your new spouse to have a clear vision in your mind of where you want your assets to end up and what you want your end of life care to be so that your estate and your care do not end up being decided by the state. An estate attorney can then help you put your protections in place.
You can learn more about how best to plan for your blended family by contacting us to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family.