Is Estate Planning Necessary When You Have a Blended Family?

There are thousands of blended families in the United States, and the number grows every day. With this being the case, the services of an estate planning lawyer are more necessary than ever.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate planning is necessary after someone marries for the second time. One reason is that second marriages involving people who already have children from an earlier marriage often end in divorce. In fact, these marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages. The other reason that estate planning is essential is that there isn’t necessarily going to be a divorce; the marriage can also end when one of the partners dies.

During the marriage, it can seem as if things are going splendidly. The stepparents treat their stepchildren like their own, and there aren’t any major issues. However, after one spouse dies, the same amicable atmosphere may not prevail. You can prevent your children from your first marriage from being left out of the family patrimony with estate planning.

Draw up a Trust

If you draw up a trust, your spouse will receive the financial means to survive after you pass away. You can set this up so that the remainder of the property will go to your children after your spouse dies.

If you draw up a will and make your spouse the sole beneficiary, your spouse could create a financial plan that disinherits your children. Part of this estate would presumably be assets that you acquired, and you may wish your children to have these assets. If you have a will that leaves everything to your spouse, your children may be left out. Your spouse could leave your assets to their own children, and if they marry again, your assets could go to the new spouse. The fact is that your spouse doesn’t have any obligation to leave your property to your children, so you must make definitive arrangements.

Choose an Appropriate Trustee

A trust creates a relationship between a grantor and a trustee. The grantor sets up the trust and appoints a trustee to take care of the assets within the trust for the beneficiaries. This arrangement offers protection for your assets because the trustee ensures that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.

After you pass away, the beneficiaries often argue among themselves about where the property will go. A trustee eliminates the possibility of squabbles between your spouse and your children.

Arrange to Leave Your Children Assets on Your Death

Another way to ensure that your children receive the assets that you want them to have is to make sure that they receive these assets directly after you pass away. With this option, it doesn’t matter whether your spouse remarries and decides to leave everything to his or her children. Your kids will receive the assets that you want to give them, and they will not have to wait until your spouse dies.

Draw up a Living Will

A living will is also known as an “advance directive.” It is the document that will hold all of your end-of-life wishes. This document is active during the time that you are incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself. By letting everyone know exactly what you want to be done if you can’t speak for yourself, you keep your spouse and your children from fighting about it in court.

This is critically important because your spouse may be the only party entitled to make these decisions for you when you are incapacitated. In fact, both your spouse and your children from your first marriage could keep the other from visiting you in the hospital. Prevent this nightmare scenario by creating a living will.

Many times, your children and spouse become involved in a tug-of-war after you pass away even though everything appears to be going very well while you are alive. If you haven’t done so already, contact us at the Knee Law Firm so that one of our lawyers can help you build an estate plan that protects everyone. Call our Hackensack, New Jersey, office today at (201) 996-1200.