Yours, mine and ours … in today’s modern family, it’s more common than not! The blended family is the product of 2nd (or more) marriages, in which one or more of the parties comes with children from a prior marriage. And then, they may go on to have children together.
If you have or are part of a blended family, it’s important to understand how estate planning could be exactly what you need to keep your family out of conflict and in love, both during life, in the event of incapacity, and when one or more of the senior generation (read: parents) dies.
Let’s begin with an understanding of where potential conflicts could arise when you have a blended family.
If you have children from a prior marriage, and you become incapacitated or die, leaving everything to your new spouse or partner, there is almost certain to be some conflict (whether spoken or not) between your children and new spouse.
Your children may feel unloved, forgotten or resentful.
You may think that this can be avoided by leaving everything to your new spouse or partner, and then on his or her death, to your children. But this too could set up a scenario where your children feel the need to monitor your spouse/partner’s use of your assets, during his or her life. And that may not be what you want.
Conversely, you may have a partner or spouse that you have not planned for, who you would want to inherit some or all of your assets. But, as things stand right now, your entire estate may go to your children from a prior marriage. This could create a reality where your current partner even gets kicked out of the house you share, if something happens to you before your plan is updated.
You can avoid all of this (and even use the estate planning process to build stronger bonds) by having clear planning in place that has been discussed with your children and your new spouse or partner. We facilitate this as part of the planning process for all blended families.
If you are the child of a parent who has remarried or re-partnered, after a divorce or death, of your other parent, you may want to bring these issues to your parent’s attention, as well.
If you are ready to create a well thought-out estate plan for your blended family, start by sitting down with us. As experienced estate planning attorneys, we can help you plan for the needs of your unique family. Our Family Wealth Planning Session guides you to protect and preserve what matters most. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what’s most important to you, and what you can do to ensure your family is taken care of – no matter what.
To your family’s health, wealth and happiness!
P.S. Want to get started on the most important planning you’ll ever do for your family? Give our office a call at (978) 263-6900 to get started. You’ll be so glad you did.
David Feakes is the owner of The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC – a law firm for families in the Acton, Massachusetts area. David helps parents protect the people they love the most.