Blended Families Require Different Estate Planning Tactics

With Thanksgiving this week, I thought we’d post our blog early. This also seemed like a good time to discuss family, especially blended families which are becoming more and more common these days. According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. With numbers like this, it is no stretch to note that many Thanksgiving tables will be surrounded by members of blended families.

Here are a couple pieces of advice when it comes to estate planning with blended families:

Some options:
  • Leave assets separate and let each spouse have their own revocable trust.
  • Make a joint trust irrevocable upon the first spouse’s death.
  • Consider opening a separate bank accounts and name children as beneficiaries. NOTE: Double check your beneficiary designations because regardless of what a will or trust says the asset goes directly to the primary beneficiary or beneficiaries.
Some items worth discussing:
  • Be sure to discuss funeral and burial plans with family ahead of time, including if they want to be buried with their current family or former spouse. If family members know your wishes, they are less likely to cause a fuss later.
  • You may want to gage what expectations each family member may have when it comes to who will administer your estate or what share they think they are entitled to. NOTE: You get to make your own choices in these matters AND you aren’t obligated to share your decisions with anyone. However, knowing expectations ahead of time might help you flush out potential problems now, rather than in the future when it is too late.

This is only a small bite-sized part of the considerations for planning in blended family situations. But this is a good place to start. So, before you get too full with turkey and pie, be sure to leave a little bit of room for important conversations like these.