In America, blended families, or families where one or both spouses have children from a previous relationship, now outnumber traditional families. Divorce is a stressful experience, especially with children involved, and moving to the next stage and finding someone to share your life is an important step. Transitioning to life with your new partner carries with it real risks. It is important to make sure your estate plan is consistent with that transition so that your property passes as you wish.
Default estate planning laws were designed for “traditional” families that lack a plan of their own, so most assets pass to the surviving spouse and then, theoretically, to the children. For blended families, however, those default rules can have results far from what is actually intended.
How Epiphany Law Can Help
As blended families have increased, so have the protections available for them. However, those protections require proactive planning and a discussion with an attorney who understands estate planning law. At Epiphany Law, we have experience working with blended families and know the rules to protect your children, provide for your new spouse, and minimize your estate tax.
The needs of blended families provide unique estate planning challenges. The estate planning attorneys at Epiphany Law can provide the solutions so that your wishes are carried out properly.
Q: Is planning really required? I trust my new spouse to give my children everything.
A: Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Even if your blended family relationship is completely harmonious. Depending on your situation, there is a risk that beneficiaries have not been updated and property not titled correctly, so your previous spouse could inherit by default. Another risk is the uncertainty that your own children will really inherit as you desire, given the multitude of opportunities for either your ex-spouse or new spouse’s family to mistakenly inherit instead. Don’t leave it to chance, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney today!
Q: How can I best protect my new spouse and myself?
A: When entering a blended family relationship, it can be especially helpful to have Premarital and Marital Agreements, which outline both you and your spouse’s rights and responsibilities. A will or trust can also be critical to clearly documenting your intentions.
Q: Can I ensure my new spouse is provided for as well as my children?
A: Yes! There are several mechanisms to accomplish this, and each will depend on your particular circumstances and needs. One possibility is called a Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust (QTIPTrust), which in essence serves to provide income to your new spouse for his or her life, while protecting the inheritance for your own children. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney for alternatives that might fit your wishes.