Second marriages which bring together two families can be a great thing for many reasons. Blended families do however bring added complexities and importance to estate planning.
You and your spouse may have children from a previous marriage and children of your own, as well as, property and other assets that have been accumulated over a lifetime. This leaves individuals with the challenge of determining how they can provide for their second spouse while also providing for their children from the first and second marriage. Providing for everyone is where the estate planning can get tricky.
Steps in the Planning Process
Communication and Planning: Being a parent doesn’t allow for a lot of quite or free time, but it is important that you and your spouse discuss your estate planning objectives. This will likely include a few uncomfortable conversations around scenarios such as what should happen if you pass first or your spouse. Having these tough conversations before the creation of your comprehensive estate plan will allow for reflection time and usually lead to a better estate plan.
Review and Update Beneficiary Designations: This may seem like an obvious step, but it does get missed. You should review your retirement accounts, life insurance policies to make sure they are up to date with your current wishes.
Find an Experienced Local Estate Planning Attorney: Now that you have communicated with your spouse and thought through your wishes, it is time to put your plan into action. Finding an attorney with experience in blended family is the right next step.
Consider Who Would be a Good Fiduciary:
While choosing your personal representative and trustee are important tasks with every estate plan, it is even more critical for blended families. For example, naming your child from a first marriage as trustee who manages distributions to your second spouse could be a recipe for family tension.
Components of a Comprehensive Estate Plan for Blending Families:
All comprehensive estate plans should have at a minimum three components; 1) Will, 2) Financial Power of Attorney, and 3) Patient Advocate with a Living Will. However, for blended families it is almost always advisable to add the fourth component which is revocable living trust.
The trust will provide great flexibility, which will allow you to provide for your spouse, as well as, your children. A well drafted trust can also help to maintain family harmony after you have passed.
A bit about us – Matt Devitt Law is a full service estate planning law firm located in Livonia, MI. In addition to estate planning we also provide legal counsel for small businesses and off a full suite of real estate legal services as well.
We work with our surrounding communities including Livonia, Northville, Plymouth, Novi, Farmington Hills, and beyond. Our focus is on providing pragmatic value based solutions for your estate planning, small business, and real-estate legal needs. Give Matt a call (734) 335-0713 for a free consult. We are also proud to offer full estate planning services virtually when requested.