Blended families face special challenges when it comes to estate planning. The term “blended family” can mean a number of different things. Usually, it refers to a married couple where one or both spouses have children from a prior marriage. However, it can also refer to families whose children are remarried with children from previous marriages.
One of the biggest areas of concern is the potential for one’s children from a previous marriage to be disinherited. Often, spouses will carry property over from their prior marriage, and they usually want to ensure that it goes to their children upon their passing instead of to their new spouse. Other concerns include delays in children’s receipt of inheritance until after the second spouse passes; the need to prevent former spouses from collecting assets; and disputes over property.
Steps to Take When Merging Families
If you have recently started a new family, it is a good idea to think about how you want your assets to be dispensed after your passing (including personal property such as your car, jewelry and personal items, any real estate you own, life insurance, retirement plans, and brokerage accounts). One easy step you can take on your own is to review all your beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement accounts. Many people forget to update these when they get divorced or remarried.
Next, find a Delaware County wills and estates law firm. An experienced lawyer can help you learn about tools and techniques to ensure your wishes are followed after your passing. Some specific issues that they can help you with include:
- Prenuptial or Premarital agreements. These can help define the rights and obligations of the surviving spouse. They can also define the parties’ rights during the marriage, and in the event of divorce.
- Life Estates. Property issues are never simple with blended families. Usually with second marriages, one spouse moves into the home of another, and it may be titled in the name of that person’s former spouse (at least jointly). By giving the surviving spouse something called a “life estate” in the home, they can reside in the house after the other spouse’s passing.
- Spray Spendthrift Trusts. These trusts are specifically designed to benefit a surviving spouse and children.
- Bloodline Trusts. These are specifically used to benefit one’s children and/or their descendants.
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts. Also called ILITs, these enable a person to provide for their children with their life insurance policy proceeds, and to use the remainder of their estate to provide for their spouse.
- Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs). These enable a person to transfer real estate to a partnership, comprised of parents and children. It is similar to a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).
West Chester Wills and Estates Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Assist with Blended Family Estate Planning
Devising a solid estate plan is one of the best things you can do for your family. To learn more about how the West Chester wills and estates lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. can assist with your blended family estate planning, call us today at 610-565-3701 or contact us online. From our offices in Media, and West Chester, we represent clients in Chester County, Delaware County, and across the Philadelphia metropolitan area.