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Estate planning for blended families

Planning for the future through an estate plan is a foundational part of providing for your loved ones - and securing your own peace of mind. Estate planning is especially important for those with blended families.

If you or your spouse have prior marriages (or children with a former partner), the estate planning process can become extremely complicated. You may have to confront difficult questions such as:

  • How can you provide for your current spouse as well as both sets of children?
  • How can you make sure that disputes don't erupt between step-siblings?
  • How can you reduce the estate tax burden to ensure that your loved ones get the maximum amount possible?

Developing an approach that works for you

If you have a blended family, a one-size-fits-all estate plan simply won't work for you. Instead, you will need to work closely with an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of complex estate plans.

Depending on your goals and your financial situation, you may need to implement several types of estate planning tools, such as a will, trust, power of attorney and life estate deed. Your estate plan must also take into account:

  • Beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts or life insurance
  • Any ongoing financial obligations you have toward a former spouse
  • The terms of any premarital agreement you may have
  • Any business ownership interests either of you have
  • How your real property is titled

As you can see, providing for your loved ones is a balancing act. Navigating this process can raise emotional issues. Nonetheless, it's important to address them now rather than put them off until it's too late.

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