Here’s a common horror story: a father remarries late in life to a woman with her own kids. The father does not create a Last Will and Testament. When the father dies, his estate goes entirely to his new wife since she is his next of kin according to the laws of intestacy. When the new wife dies, both estates go to her children, leaving the father’s children without their rightful inheritance.
This happens all too often, and usually leads to nasty court battles and bad feelings for everyone involved. However, these issues can be easily avoided with estate planning for blended families.
An experienced Newport Beach will and estate lawyer can design a plan that fulfills all your wishes if you’re creating a blended family. Besides choosing the right attorney, here are some other considerations to think about when you’re creating a blended family estate plan:
- Decide who you want to take care of and how you want to do it. You may want to leave everything to your children, provide for your new spouse, or leave an inheritance for each member of your blended family. You can speak to your family, friends, and attorney about this decision, but it is ultimately up to you to decide.
- Speak to your children about any specific heirlooms or items they may have a personal connection to and will want after you pass away. Once this is determined, you should specify which family members should receive which items in your estate plan.
- Consider the possibility that your spouse may pass before you. While you should protect your own legacy, you should also think about what may happen if the roles are reversed and your family ends up with your spouse’s family’s inheritance. You should discuss this with your spouse to ensure each side is taken care of accordingly.
- Review your existing insurance policies, estate planning documents, and financial accounts to ensure they are all up to date. You’ll want to make sure you are not leaving funds to an ex- or deceased spouse. There are too many cases to count where an ex-spouse received an insurance payout because the documents were never updated, or that the probate process was prolonged because of a pre-deceased spouse still being listed as a beneficiary.
If you have questions about estate planning for your blended family, or you wish to update your estate plan to account for your blended family, please contact us at (949) 260-1400 to set up a consultation.