Estate Planning for Blended Families
May 21st, 2020 by Bunch & Brock
Estate Planning for Blended Families
Estate planning for blended families can be tricky, especially if there are children, step-children and half-siblings involved. A married couple often wants to make sure all children are accounted for and taken care of in future years, though sometimes in different ways. In addition, a couple may have aging parents, other family members, trusts and charities that they want included in an estate plan. This is when it’s time to call a skilled estate planning attorney. There’s a lot to know about taxes, trusts, wills and other financial instruments, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best legal advice possible so there aren’t problems down the road. The estate planning lawyers at Bunch & Brock are highly skilled and have years of experience in helping blended families create estate plans that meet their unique needs. We know there’s a lot to consider, both now and in the future.
To learn more about how Bunch & Brock can help your modern-day blended family, call us at 859-254-5522. We would be glad to have an initial conversation and answer your questions.
Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families
There can be tension and infighting between surviving spouses and biological children when one partner in a blended family becomes hospitalized or dies. When it comes to estate planning tips for blended families, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. Rather than waiting until the last minute to make decisions when stress is high and people are hurting, it’s better to consider some issues in advance and make calm, proactive decisions. Here are some estate planning tips for blended families to keep in mind:
- Decide in advance who makes health care decisions for each partner in a blended-family marriage, and put this in writing.
- Fill out a “disposition of remains form” detailing where each spouse wants to be buried and what kind of funeral he or she wants. Sometimes, biological children believe their parent should be buried beside a previously deceased parent, whereas the new spouse may have very different ideas.
- Discuss whether a surviving spouse can do anything they want to with the couple’s remaining assets. In such cases, it’s not unusual for a surviving spouse to favor her or his own biological children over step-children, so putting these directions down on paper in advance can prevent a lot of hurt feelings and resentments among children after the fact.
- Irrevocable trusts can be effective tools in articulating how assets are to be divided among children after a remaining spouse dies.
- Oftentimes, life insurance for spouses with each person’s biological children named as beneficiaries can be an effective way of leaving assets in blended families.
- If a spouse comes into the blended marriage with all or most of the assets (through inheritance or earnings), this should be documented at the time of the marriage.
- Discuss how much financial and estate information is going to be given to biological children upon the death of their parent. A surviving spouse may withhold this information, causing confusion and frustration among the children, unless other plans are made in advance.
How Do Blended Families Handle Wills?
Generally, a will by itself will be woefully inadequate in the case of a blended family. That’s why it’s so important to have a sophisticated and experienced estate planning attorney who has handled blended family cases before. A will should be just one component of a blended family’s estate plan, which can also include trusts of various kinds, life insurance, and other planning documents. To learn more about what elements should be included in your blended family’s estate plan, call a skilled lawyer at Bunch & Brock today at 859-254-5522. We would be glad to answer your questions and share some ideas.
Blended Family Estate Planning Problems
We’re probably all familiar with stories about blended families estate planning problems you can run into when one spouse dies and biological children are arguing and angry about the status of remaining assets. The goal of an estate plan is to proactively anticipate these problems and create solutions while both spouses are still living. Death and funerals are already hard enough without infighting, jealousy and hurt feelings about assets.
So, the biggest blended family estate planning problem is – not having any estate plan whatsoever!
Next, some of the other potential problems include:
- A remaining spouse favoring his or her biological children over step-children when distributing assets
- Biological children feeling “in the dark” about their parent’s burial wishes or asset distribution after death
- A surviving spouse eventually remarrying
- Arguments over who the trustee of a trust will be. Some may want a family member as the trustee while others may prefer a neutral, third-party professional.
These are just a few of many problems that a blended family can run into when creating an estate plan. The most effective plans anticipate these problems and lay them to rest in advance.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you are a modern-day blended family and are looking to the future, it may be time to think about creating an estate plan. There are a lot of unique circumstances to consider in a blended family that a traditional family will not have to face. Everything from location of burial to a complex distribution of assets can come into play. Rather than leaving these things to chance and laying the groundwork for future arguments and hurt feelings, it is better to create a comprehensive and clearly articulated estate plan now. There are many legal and financial instruments that can be used to facilitate your wishes, avoid tax penalties, and distribute your assets in an orderly manner. But it’s important to have a sophisticated attorney who is trained and experienced in estate planning.
The lawyers at Bunch & Brock have decades of hands-on experience in helping blended families create one-of-a-kind estate plans designed specifically for their unique family. Call us today at 859-254-5522 to get the conversation started.