Planning for Blended Families

Planning for Blended Families

Serving Families throughout Huntsville, Alabama and the Surrounding Areas

Times have changed.  Blended families now outnumber traditional nuclear families. And the number is likely to grow, based on current statistics and trends.

Many blended families face unique social, psychological and economic challenges.  They also face different legal issues than traditional families. These critical estate planning issues and challenges blended families face include disinheriting your ex-spouse and protecting your own children.

If you already have an estate plan created when you were single or during a previous marriage, you need help to bring it up-to-code to reflect your new martial status. Without proper legal planning, your ex-spouse (as surviving parent/guardian) would likely be appointed by the probate court to manage the inheritance you leave to your minor children. Imagine the mess if your children were to predecease your ex-spouse, and are single and childless at that time? Who would inherit your assets then? That is right … your ex-spouse, as the next-of-kin of your children.

Unless a family has specifically created a premarital agreement to maintain separate assets, most spouses in blended families tend to blend their wealth. For example, they title their respective assets in the names of both spouses and are required to designate one another as the primary beneficiary of their respective retirement plans.  They usually handle life insurance policies the same way.

If you predecease your new spouse, then you may forever disinherit your own children from your share of such blended wealth. Thereafter, upon the death of your new spouse, your assets may be inherited by your stepchildren, or even by your new spouse’s next spouse and their children. Yes, things can get complicated – and fast!  We can plan to avoid this complication.

Regardless of whether children are reared in a traditional nuclear family or in a blended family, great care should be given to protect any inheritance both for them and from them.  Planning can help keep the inheritance from being spent frivolously, and from being affected by divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies.

Fortunately, with proper (and very careful) estate planning, you can both honor your vows to your new spouse and provide an inheritance that is protected for and even from your own children.