Marriage is often more than two people coming together. Marriage often involves building a new family, especially when one or both spouses have been married before. In these blended families, though, creating a comprehensive estate plan is especially important. What estate planning concerns should you consider if you marry for the second time?
Discuss the guardianship of underage children as soon as possible.
If you or your spouse has children under 18, it is essential to discuss what would happen if you were to pass away. While many families would want their child to be with their other biological parent, sometimes that person is unwilling or unable to care for them in the way they deserve. In those cases, a stepparent may act as the children’s guardian, or another relative entirely may step in to raise them.
No matter who takes on the role of guardian, taking time to discuss this issue you’re your new spouse and naming someone you trust in your will can eliminate questions if you pass away unexpectedly.
Joint ownership could limit your children’s access to resources.
While you and your new spouse may want to share everything, jointly owned assets can bring unique estate planning challenges. For example, if you were to pass away before your spouse, your children may find themselves disinherited. Even with the best intentions, it usually takes careful estate planning to ensure that your children receive the support and property you wish.
One way to protect their inheritance is to name specific items to go to each child, including family heirlooms. Another option is placing assets in trust, which protects them if you pass away before your spouse and allows you to have greater control over when the trust distributes those assets.
Plan for what will happen in healthcare emergencies.
What happens if you experience a healthcare emergency that leaves you unable to make decisions for yourself? Will your new spouse make decisions on your behalf? Will your grown child act as your agent? Will you ask that they work together? For many blended families, establishing power of attorney can help minimize conflict if one person is incapacitated.
Discuss your wishes with your family.
Especially if you have adult children, discussing your estate plan with your loved ones can help eliminate conflict in the future. You can not only explain the reasoning behind your estate planning decisions, but you can answer questions that may arise.
With the right legal strategy, people in blended families can create an estate plan that protects their children and their spouse for years to come.