Blended Families Face Unique Estate Planning Challenges

If you’re in a second marriage, your attorney needs to ask you the right questions, listen carefully as you describe your situation, and make sure he or she understands what’s important to you. There’s no such thing as a “standard” client, and that’s just as true for people in your situation.

What If There’s No Will?

This is a serious question – sometimes couples are reluctant to talk about how they want things handled. They might fear it would cause hard feelings, or they fear they won’t be able to agree on “what’s fair,” or they worry that there might be no way to fairly handle their estate, or they don’t know how to choose their helpers. They mean well, but they’re stuck. But like everything else in life, putting it off makes it worse – the longer they avoid the subject, the more difficult it becomes to start working on a solution. Having no Wills at all can mean that the children of the surviving spouse will get everything.

It’s Not Just About Your Spouse 

So let’s say you want to take care of your spouse – no issues with that. And there might be agreement (in principle, at least) about how things should be distributed after that. The problem (spoken or unspoken) is this: “How can we be sure things will play out the way we want? What if after I’m gone my husband marries Trixie / my wife marries Biff the pool boy? What if my spouse starts to fail and becomes vulnerable to “suggestions” about how to distribute assets? Who will be the Power of Attorney for my spouse? If we’re living in my home, can my spouse live there after I’m gone? For how long? 

Over many years, I’ve been meeting with clients to work through these decisions. With a little help, a safe and confidential environment for the conversation, they do just fine. I never cease to be impressed with their ability to solve difficult problems, as long as they have proper counseling, advice, and relevant information. 

Trusts Are Often Useful for Blended Families

Using a trust as part of their plan (whether it takes effect now or after they’re gone) gives clients confidence that everything will happen the way they want it to. Because the trust owns the assets, it controls what happens to those assets, using your written instructions contained in the trust. For example, assets may go into a trust when the first spouse dies. That trust will be for his or her benefit as long as they live, but even if they remarry, or even if one of their children wants them to change the distribution rules, the assets will be distributed exactly as the trust requires, with no change. Think of the peace of mind a couple will have knowing their wishes will be carried out just as they wanted.

Estate Planning Secures the Future

There is no telling what the future holds for you, your spouse, and your children (step and biological). With a properly crafted estate plan, you don’t have to worry about what will happen because you have made plans for every foreseeable contingency. HighPoint Law Offices helps families build better futures by coming up with personalized estate plans for our clients. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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HighPoint Law Offices PC

At HighPoint Law Offices we support individuals, families, and businesses of all backgrounds with estate planning services that address their unique wishes, goals, and challenges.

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