With half of all marriages ending in divorce, second marriages and blended families are very common. If you have a blended family, it is imperative to take special care with your estate plan.
Name a Guardian
If you have minor children in your household, you should always name a guardian in case you and your spouse pass away. In the case of blended families, which often have step-children and half-siblings, choosing a guardian may be more complicated.
Depending upon your family dynamic and who each child is close to, you may wish to name different guardians. You must also take into account what would happen if you pass away and your spouse does not. Would your biological children return to their other parent or remain with your spouse and the half or step siblings? Also check with your children if you do plan to split them up; they may prefer to live near each other in order to maintain contact.
Update Your Beneficiaries
Upon a divorce, you should always remove your ex-spouse from any financial accounts and from life insurance policies, annuities, or retirement accounts where he or she is beneficiary and from joint ownership of any property that you retain. Often he or she will lose inheritance rights upon divorce, but it is best avoid confusion by naming a new beneficiary.
Safeguard Your Children’s Inheritances
In a first marriage, it is common for the couple to leave everything to the other spouse. The problem with this in a second marriage is that if you pass away first, your spouse could choose to leave everything to his or her heirs – for example, a new spouse – thus disinheriting your children. You should protect your children’s legacies. One way to do this is with a trust in each child’s name. To find the best way to safe-keep your children’s inheritance, speak with your attorney.
Maintain Your Plan
It is essential to maintain your estate plan. If you have a Will, any property not included may be given to heirs at law. In this case, the chosen inheritor may not be who you would have picked. To make sure you have a full say in who inherits your property, keep your plan up to date and check with your attorney every two or three years to make sure there are no new estate laws that may affect your arrangements.
Attorney at Law