27th Feb 2017
Blended families are becoming more and more common as many people have been married more than one time. Estate planning for the children of one marriage can be stressful enough, but planning for second or subsequent marriages, can be quite challenging. You want to ensure that your children from your previous marriage(s) as well as your spouse and children from your current marriage are provided for fairly in the event of your death.. As well, you want to ensure that your inheritance is not passed on to the spouse of your previous partner, or your current spouse’s future partner.
So how do you protect your inheritance? How can you ensure that everyone is treated fairly in the event of your death? The following article will provide you with some helpful information on how to prepare for estate planning for blended families in the state of California.
Take Inventory of Your Belongings
First of all, you should take a complete inventory of your possessions, ranking them from lowest to highest in value. Then, determine to whom you wish each item to be left. Share the list with your spouse and make sure that your feelings are known. Have your spouse do the same for his possessions, ranking them in order of value and then to whom each should be bequeathed.
Plan for Multiple Scenarios
You and your spouse should then plan for three scenarios: the event in which you should die first, the event in which your spouse passes first and the event in which the two of you die at the same time (in the event of an accident, etc). You need to discuss whom you would like to be the legal guardian of your children in the event that you should both die at the same time, as well as an executor of your estate. So many families have been torn apart when both parents pass at the same time, and no provisions are made in the will for such an event.
Ensure that Your Will is Current
If you have a written will, make sure that it is updated to include your current spouse and children. Make sure every item is covered and up to date with the current relevant details. You want to make provisions for the care of your children, as well as details for any trusts, insurance policies and other such items. If you are divorced and remarried, you need to make sure that your will is up to date or your former spouse may end up with everything if you do not make the necessary changes to your will.
Include Estate Planning Details in your Prenuptial Agreement
If you are planning to re-marry and have agreed to a prenup, you can also make sure that such details are covered in the prenup (or postnup) agreement. If you have children from a previous marriage, a prenup is another way to ensure that they are provided for in the event of your demise. In many cases, in blended marriages where there are children from a previous marriage, they tend to get left out of the estate planning in lieu of children from the new union so it is important to ensure that your children from a former marriage are provided for as well.
You need to make a detailed list of your children’s special needs such as allergies or medical conditions and have their school records, medical records, etc in order. You can outline any specific details as to their upbringing and education in your prenup as well as your will. This will ensure that your children are provided for in the manner in which you intend, even after your death.
Make Sure that Your Insurance Policies are Also Up to Date
In the event that you re-marry and have additional children, you should make sure that they are added to your life insurance policies. Make sure that you have their correct information such as birth date, social security information, etc. Make sure that you have the correct designated beneficiaries on all of your insurance policies, as well as retirement funds, IRA’s, trusts funds and so forth. This can save a lot of legal hassle and stress on your family in the event of your death.
Instead of trying to handle all of this on your own, it only makes sense to seek the assistance of a qualified professional. There are many complicated issues when it comes to taxes and estate planning, prenups, wills and so forth. It will only help both you and your spouse to meet with an estate planning attorney to iron out the details.
You will want to make sure that the following details are covered:
- Ensure at all estate planning documents are up to date and include the details of all of the members of your blended family.
- Bring any documents such as divorce certificates, marriage certificate, birth certificates, social security information, medical records, etc that are pertinent to your estate planning.
- Make sure that you have designated an executor whom both you and your spouse can trust with the care of your children after your death.
- Consider a prenup or postnup for additional protection
- Consider trusts to ensure that your inheritance is handled property
When it comes time to settle your estate planning, please consult Tompkins Law at 1-714-385-0044.
We are experienced estate planning attorneys and can assist you with any question or concerns you have regarding your estate planning for your blended family.
These matters are of great importance and should not be taken lightly. Please call us for a free consultation. You can count on your expert advice as you prepare for the future of your loved ones.