Estate Planning for Blended Families
Serving Families in Vallejo and the Surrounding Area
Blended families now outnumber traditional nuclear families. The number is likely to grow, based on current statistics and trends.
Many blended families face unique social, psychological, and economic challenges. As a result, well over 50% of second marriages end in divorce. Fortunately, there are numerous organizations and support groups dedicated to helping blended families with these challenges.
Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the critical estate planning challenges confronting blended families. These challenges include disinheriting your ex-spouse and protecting your own children.
Without proper estate planning for blended families, 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. To make matters worse, what if your children later predecease your ex-spouse, and are single and childless at that time? Who would inherit your assets then?
You made a few solemn promises to your new spouse on your wedding day. Among them were promises to be there through thick and thin, personally and financially. In the absence of 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 also designate one another as the primary beneficiary of their respective retirement plans and life insurance policies.
Warning: 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.
Regardless whether children are reared in a traditional nuclear family or in a blended family, great care should be given to protect any inheritance for them. For starters, wealth representing a lifetime of your hard work and thrift can be squandered in very short order. Dollars earned just spend differently than dollars inherited. In addition to good, old-fashioned squandering, an inheritance can quickly vanish through divorces, lawsuits, and bankruptcies.
Fortunately, with proper (and very careful) estate planning for blended families, you can both honor your vows to your new spouse and provide an inheritance that is protected for and even from your own children.