Have a Blended Family? How to Handle Your Estate Planning

When you remarry, there are a lot of details to work out – especially if you or your spouse are bringing children into the family. While you’re focused on getting everyone settled and working out the day-to-day details, it’s important to not overlook the importance of updating your estate plan.

Use these tips to ensure your estate plan reflects your new blended family.

Update Your Beneficiaries

With a new marriage, you must update your beneficiaries to reflect your new spouse. Neglecting to do this could leave your ex-spouse as your beneficiary. By updating your estate plan and naming your new spouse as your beneficiary, you are guaranteeing that your assets will go to the person you intend, and they will not go through probate.

After adding your new spouse as your primary beneficiary, you should then check your secondary beneficiaries and add your children or stepchildren. This will ensure your assets go to them if both you and your spouse die.

Review Your Legal Directives

In addition to updating your beneficiaries, you should also review your legal directives and update your power of attorney. You should again ensure it’s your current spouse who is listed and not your former spouse. Giving someone power of attorney allows them to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are nota able to.

Update Your Will

Updating your beneficiaries ensures your new spouse gets your 401(k), but it does not automatically change your will. You must work with your estate planning attorney to update who gets your assets after your death. This is your chance to remove your ex-spouse and add your new spouse and any stepchildren you’d like to include in your will. How you draft this is up to you. You can leave everything to your spouse and let him or her distribute your assets to the children, or you can create a contract ensuring your spouse honors your will. This can be important if there are family heirlooms you want to stay with your biological children instead of going to your stepchildren, or if there are sentimental items you want left to specific family members.

Be Specific About Your Heirs

This can be a tricky subject, but you might not want to leave equal assets to your birth children and your stepchildren. You can work with your estate planning attorney to determine who should inherit specific percentages of your house, or your assets. You might even leave more to your children than your second spouse, depending on your age and each of your financial situations.

You might also want to prevent one of your children with an addiction from inheriting money or want to arrange for a disabled child’s long-term care. In these situations, you might want to establish a trust. This can also be arranged with an attorney.

These can be difficult decisions and conversations, so it’s important to work with an attorney to document your wishes.

Hire an Estate Planning Attorney

When you remarry, it’s essential to hire a trusted and experienced estate planning attorney. He or she will review all of the steps with you to ensure all of your legal documents are updated with your new spouse and that your stepchildren are added to the necessary forms.

Why Hire Us to Assist Your Blended Family

When you have a new blended family, hire an estate planning attorney to update your beneficiaries and estate plan. Hire our attorneys at Johnstone Adams LLC to help you.

Ranked in the 2023 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally in 12 practice areas, we have experts in many areas of law to give our clients top-notch representation. In business for more than a century, our firm can mix its experience with the ability to evolve with the changing times.

To get started, contact us at 251-319-4659 or info@johnstoneadams.com.

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