As society progresses, so does our definition of family. A blended family is one where the parents have children or dependents that are not biologically related to their current spouse. Blended families are welcomed by many Americans across the nation, however, they do pose an issue with estate planning when one of the parents passes away.
Blended Families and Estate Planning Issue
The traditional form of estate planning, a Will, is not as effective with blended families. One instance where a Will is not effective is when a parent wants to leave their children their assets and not their spouse. In many jurisdictions, a spouse can not be disinherited, and is permitted a statutory election against the deceased spouse’s estate. Some jurisdictions even permit an augmented estate that may subject non-probate and prior gifts to the spousal election. Community property jurisdictions can results in even further difficulties when estate planning with regard to second marriages.
Trusts and Estates Attorney Kerri Castellini, says that “When creating a Will, there are some common provisions that are essential to include. A Will should include thorough and detailed provisions for the disbursement of their assets upon their death and specify to whom those assets will be distributed. If the individual has minor children or adopted children, it is important to be specific about who you wish to be your beneficiaries, and help from an attorney is the best person to help you plan for the future.”
Solutions For Blended Families
Various options are available to parents in blended families to secure their assets to their children. Depending on what type of assets one has, there are varying ways to prevent your children from not receiving anything in the event of your death. Here are a few options that are available to you.
A prenuptial agreement is a mutually agreed-upon document regarding an individual’s asset in the event of a divorce and death. These documents are agreed upon before the marriage. Make sure you reach out to your lawyer to create these agreements to make sure they hold up in a legal court. By using a prenuptial agreement, you can decide how much, if any, of your estate will be given to your spouse after you are deceased. This is an option to guarantee that your children can receive a portion of your assets outside of your spouse’s control.
For other assets, a trust fund is an option to leave your estate to your children. Trust funds allow you to create your plan for your assets based on your needs. You can leave some of your assets to your spouse and some of them to your children. You can entrust anyone to facilitate the use of your trust fund by listing them as the trustee. There is even an option that allows you to provide a specific amount of assets to your spouse while they are alive, and once they are deceased, leave the rest to your children. Because of the flexibility of a trust fund, it is a great option for blended families. While creation of a trust may be a consideration, consideration of fraud on marital rights and possible inclusion in an augmented estate must be considered.
With so many Americans welcoming blended families in their lives, it is essential that they know the ways to protect their families legally. Blended families show us that we can love individuals and create families in a nontraditional way. These options are just a few that are available to you to support all of those that you love even once you are gone.