Estate planning for a blended family requires open communication and attention to detail. While there are no unique requirements for a blended family, you need to address a few fundamental issues.
Consider how your family may relate to each other in the future. Will your new spouse follow through with asset distribution to your children years after your death? What happens if your new spouse remarries and stops communicating with your kids?
The following tips ensure your estate gets distributed as you wish.
Create trusts to support your spouse and your heirs
Trusts make it easy for you to set aside assets for your spouse and children. You have many options for choosing trusts, but as the grantor, you decide how assets get distributed when you die. You can designate that your spouse has access to these assets while alive, and any remaining assets go to your children upon your spouse’s death. You may also set restrictions on the trust, so if your spouse remarries, the entire trust goes to your children.
Leave specific items to your children in a will
If you have family heirlooms or mementos you want to give to your children upon your death, put this in a will. If you leave everything to your new spouse, he or she may not want to part with your items when you die. Your belongings may even end up with your spouse’s new partner or your step-children if you do not dictate your wishes from the beginning.
Clarifying how you want your assets handled after your death can prevent arguments and lawsuits for your children and other members of your blended family.