Blended Family Estate Planning

Blended Family Estate Planning

blended estate planning discussion with lawyer

By definition, estate planning involves taking steps to ensure your assets pass smoothly to the intended beneficiaries. In some cases, the planning can be very simple: Person A gets this, Person B gets that, and so on.

A blended family is defined as a family consisting of a couple and their children from this relationship and children from previous relationships.  Blended family estate planning presents its own unique challenges. You need to consider which children will be beneficiaries, which must be provided for, and whether your stepchildren are to also receive part of your assets or if that will be the responsibility of their the actual parents. 

Remarriage joins two families and a previous estate plan may no longer fit your current situation. You will want to discuss how to best modify your plan with attorney Fesler to help guide your decisions.

It is not unusual for couples who marry later in life who have adult children by previous marriage, discuss distribution of assets that they are bringing into the marriage and memorialize decisions with a prenuptial agreement.  

Many Options

Traditional thinking on blended family estate planning tends to be viewed in singular terms, such as including a new spouse and retaining/excluding the former spouse. And while that example would certainly be a common consideration for many blended families, it may not fit every family.

Blended families do not begin and end with a new spouse. Your new spouse may have children from a previous relationship and you will treat them as your own. However your children by your previous marriage may be the ones who expect to inherit as your “real” children.  The complex web of relationships when families blend can create concerns and challenges when you plan. The last thing you want is to offend or create unhappiness after you pass. Worse, without proper planning, you may create the chance that beneficiaries will have to fight it out in court, wasting time and money. 

There is not a “one size fits all” approach to estate planning, as every family will have different needs, attitudes, and concerns.

For example you may wish to bequeath money to your former spouse to ensure that they have resources to raise the child of your union. Or your new spouse may have a handicapped child that you wish to provide for when you pass away as a loving gesture since their long term needs far exceed the needs of your other children.

Making Decisions

Estate planning for blended families works best when the you speak with a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney. Andrew Fesler has seen lots of situations and can make suggestions on what you can do and how make decisions wisely. Instead of worrying about how beneficiaries might interpret your final wishes, he can help you articulate your decisions into your plan to avoid second guessing or family arguments.  The California court system supervises how estates are administered including probate . With the guidance of Andrew Fesler, you can put together a plan to properly and smoothly distribute assets and minimize intervention by the courts. 

He can help you leave instructions through your  estate plan instruments to communicate your wishes. But he can  also help you to discuss with future beneficiaries now what your thinking and reassure them of your love. Furthermore as circumstances change, Mr. Fesler can help you update and change your plan to reflect these inevitable events that happen over the course of a lifetime.

Let Us Help

If you are considering remarriage and blending your families, talk with us. Or if you have already married and need to create or update your plan, let us know. To find out more about estate planning for blended marriages, contact the Law Office of Andrew Fesler today.