When a person has a second or third marriage, he or she must carefully craft an estate plan to avoid arguments that may arise about inheritance. The situation becomes even more complicated when someone has children from several different relationships.
Review the common estate problems for blended families to prevent future fights among those you love most and ensure fair distribution of your legacy.
Your spouse receives everything
If you die without a will, your current spouse inherits all your assets. Even if you intend to leave everything to him or her, you may also expect that your spouse will take care of your children from previous relationships when the time comes. If he or she fails to do so, however, those children will receive nothing. You can avoid this situation by placing assets in a trust designated for your children or making them beneficiaries of your life insurance policy or retirement account.
A former spouse receives everything
You followed all the advice you heard about making an estate plan in your twenties or thirties. Then you got divorced, but you never updated your original will. If you fail to do so, a spouse you have not seen in years at the time of your death could become the legal beneficiary of your estate.
You become incapacitated
Despite your best efforts, your new spouse and your children with your first wife never see eye-to-eye. You become ill and can no longer make health care decisions for yourself. Your spouse prevents your children from visiting. This happens all too often, but a health care power of attorney can spell out your wishes if you cannot do so.
These are just a few of the common issues that can occur in blended families without a comprehensive estate plan. Consider your special concerns as you prepare these important legal documents.