Having a blended family can be a wonderful thing. However, it can also make estate planning a bit more complicated. If you have children from a previous marriage, you’ll want to make sure that you take the right steps to ensure that they fit into your overall estate plan by doing the following.
Creating a comprehensive will
This will be the key document in ensuring that your wishes get carried out and that your children are provided for according to your wishes. Assuming you have a current will, you’ll want to review it to make sure it still reflects your wishes and take into account any changes in your family situation. In this case, this may mean adding your new spouse and any step-children to the document.
If you don’t have a will, now is the time to create one. This is especially important if you have young children, as it will allow you to appoint a guardian for them in the event of your untimely death.
Reviewing your beneficiary designations
If you have any life insurance policies or retirement accounts, you’ll want to review the beneficiaries on those accounts. In many cases, the people who are named as beneficiaries on these accounts will receive the money from them regardless of what’s stated in your will. So, if you want your new spouse and step-children to benefit from these accounts, you’ll need to make sure they’re named as beneficiaries.
If you have an ex-spouse listed as beneficiaries on these accounts, you’ll want to remove them and update the beneficiary designation forms with the new people you want to receive the money.
Trusts can be a helpful tool in estate planning, especially for blended families. You can use trusts to provide for children from a previous marriage while still giving you some control over how and when they receive the money. You can also use trusts to protect assets from creditors or future divorce proceedings.
Estate planning for blended families may seem a bit more complicated than for so-called “traditional families,” but you can still create a plan that meets your needs and protects your loved ones. By taking the time to review your estate planning documents and make sure they are up-to-date, you can ensure that your wishes will get carried out and that your expanded family is provided for.