Estate planning for blended families is commonly overlooked. When you marry a new spouse, especially if you each have children, you are likely to begin generating wealth and collecting assets together. You will need an estate plan in place to fairly divide your assets and protect your loved ones after one or both of you pass.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, our estate planning attorneys help blended families create thorough estate plans that balance each party’s needs.
How Estate Planning Differs for Blended Families
Blended families typically include married couples with children from previous relationships, though the definition may extend to extended family members, half-siblings, or anyone else sharing the same home and assets. Estate planning for blended families differs because you must consider additional people, assets, exes, and previous arrangements.
Beneficiary designations and guardianship selections are often the toughest parts of estate planning for blended families. You and your spouse should thoroughly consider the right options for your family in all possible scenarios.
When you enter a new marriage, you should revisit your estate plan and revise it every three to five years to keep it current. Any previous information you had about guardianship rights or beneficiaries may be different now. If you created a prenuptial agreement, consider these terms when creating the estate plan.
Estate planning for blended families typically includes documents. We recommend considering the following options:
Family trusts place all combined assets into a single testamentary trust after the passing of one spouse. The surviving spouse can then determine how to divide the assets based on family needs. Trusts often allow your family to avoid the lengthy, public court process called probate.
Marriage trusts work much like family trusts, although each spouse can earmark the residual assets they’d like their loved ones to assume after their passing. This option allows for more control on each end, ensuring every family member has fair representation.
The outright ownership structure transfers assets to the surviving spouse directly without involving a trust for the children. While outright ownership may be a simple option, it requires more trust between spouses and can require probate court.
Spouses may also transfer their assets to their children in a will. Wills allow each spouse to dictate their preferences, though your family typically then goes through probate court after you pass before assuming your assets.
If you or your spouse pass while your children are still minors, you must decide who will care for them. You can designate guardianship to ensure the right person cares for your children.
A power of attorney and other directives allow you to authorize someone else to take legal actions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. After remarrying, you may designate your spouse to make health or financial decisions if you cannot do so yourself.
Estate planning for blended families may feel overwhelming at first, though it doesn’t need to be. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we offer thorough, stress-free estate planning legal support. Our team will listen to your needs, then help you create the proper documentation to put your choices into effect.
Call the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo in Woodland Hills, CA, today at (818) 938-8642 for more guidance on your blended family’s estate planning needs.