What special estate planning considerations exist for blended families?
Over half of all families in the United States are either remarried or re-coupled, according to U.S. Bureau of Census data. Across the nation, 1,300 stepfamilies are forming every day, and the number of remarriages is estimated to be rising every year. Blended families today commonly include children, stepchildren, former spouses, and in-laws. Being a part of a blended family can be a wonderful thing, but some unique issues arise in the field of estate planning for those with a non-traditional family. Our Tampa estate planning attorneys offer some estate planning tips for blended families below.
The Importance of a Will for Blended Families
Without a will in place, your assets will pass in accordance with Florida’s intestacy laws. For certain blended families, this could lead to exclusion of loved ones and inclusion of relatives you may not want to receive your assets. For example, if you are divorced and dating a person with children, your partner and his or her children would receive nothing should you die because you are not legally married, have not adopted the children, and do not have a will in place.
Drafting a last will and testament is important for everyone, but complex family dynamics in blended families make it all the more essential that you sit down with an estate planning attorney. Your will should specifically include provisions for the care of your current spouse or partner and your children from the previous or current marriage. If you have a will, but have since divorced, take the time to update your will to reflect your current lifestyle.
Updating Your Beneficiary Designations
Many valuable assets require that you provide a beneficiary designation. Assets that pass through a beneficiary designation include bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance proceeds. Your beneficiary designation will trump any provisions in your will, making it absolutely crucial that you keep this selection up to date. Should you pass away without updating your beneficiary designations, your ex could receive these assets.
Remarried spouses will often benefit from setting up a carefully crafted trust. A trust for a blended family will often allow a living parent to serve as trustee during his or her lifetime, with the trust assets then providing income to the surviving spouse for life and the remainder of the trust passing to the children. Contact an estate planning attorney that can discuss this and all other options with you to develop an estate plan that bests suits your needs.