More and more people are getting married a second time and find themselves with two families. Estate planning for one family is hard enough, but it can be quite complex if you have a second one to provide for.
That’s why I thought it would be helpful for me to post this article I found on Yahoo Finance last week. It deals with the issues that families with a mix of biological children, stepchildren, first spouses and second spouses must face.
If you find yourself in this position, you don’t want to leave your heirs from the two families to fight it out over who gets what. The article lists the six most important things to remember when estate planning for a blended family.
Here are the six things to keep in mind, at least as outlined in the article:
- It depends on how long your family has been together. If you and your second spouse married when your children were still young, or you had children together, you are really one big family. You should proceed with your will as if all your children were your biological children and your second spouse is your first spouse. But if your children were teenagers or adults when you remarried, things are different. You may want to make separate provisions for your biological children and your stepchildren.
- Make provisions for your second spouse, but first make plans to provide for your children immediately. They should not have to wait until your second spouse dies before getting an inheritance.
- Make a plan for your home. If your children grew up in your home, they may have more of a claim to it than does your second spouse. If they never grew up there, it belongs to your second spouse.
- Taxes are less important than family harmony. Equal distribution may trump taxes, If you leave everything to your spouse to save on taxes, your children won’t be happy.
- Communicate with everyone, either one at a time or as a group. It may be uncomfortable, but it will work out better, especially if you tell them your ideas and ask for their input.
- Make sure you have the right experts. The right estate planning lawyer and financial planner are critical. You may even need a family therapist.
Planning for blended families can be challenging. But each family’s circumstances are different. I would be happy to review the options that best suit your family’s particular situation.