Understandably, the primary goal of estate planning is to make sure that your family is well taken care of if something were to happen to you. You want to set them up for success, and with as little stress and conflict as possible.
Even with a traditional family structure, this can be challenging. If you have a blended family, however, and you and/or your spouse has children from before your marriage, you absolutely need to plan ahead in order to protect those you love and keep them out of the way of heartbreaking conflict.
Regardless of the relationship you perceive your spouse to have with your children, some conflict is unavoidable after death, when emotions and tensions run high. The good news is, with careful planning, you can preemptively mitigate this conflict and make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of, in the fairest manner possible, in the event of your death.
It is important to consider all possible scenarios when you have a blended family. While many spouses will leave everything in their estate to each other in the event of their death, this could have the unintended consequence of leaving biological children uninherited.
The best thing you can do is to work with your spouse and an estate planning lawyer to make sure that all of your children, whether joint or previous, will be taken care of should the unthinkable happen to either of you. Working on this together will help ensure that everyone is on the same team during a time of heartbreak and grief, and will help avoid unnecessary squabbles.
If you have a blended family and want to start planning for the future, give us a call right away. Here at Stafford Law Firm, we have the experience necessary to help you protect your family, no matter what your family looks like.
Estate planning for blended families does not have a one size fits all solution. Each family is unique and the way spouses want to split their estate will be different depending on their situation. A trust (such as a joint pour-over trust) is one of the most common solutions blended families opt for. It is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney in order to make sure your biological children do not end up unintentionally disinherited.
The terms “blended family” and “stepfamily” generally refer to similar family structures. In a blended family, there are children present from prior relationships, whose parent remarries. Generally, a blended family consists of the two spouses and either or both of their children from previous relationships, as well as their joint children if they have them.
The way in which a blended family will handle wills depends on the particulars of their situation. Many married couples will automatically will their estate to their spouse, but this can have some tricky implications when it comes to blended families. If you will everything to your spouse, they then have control over all of those assets and can then choose to leave everything to their biological children, completely leaving your children out of the picture. An estate planning lawyer will be able to advise you on the best way to avoid these heartbreaking scenarios.
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I couldn't more highly recommend Will Stafford, after working with him on my estate planning. Will took the time to genuinely understand my personal goals and values, and helped design a plan that was a perfect fit for me, rather than just using a cut-and-paste template.
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