If you’re in a blended or non-traditional family, I want to talk to you today about your estate planning.

Creating a will, trust, or prenuptial agreement is complicated enough without throwing the dynamics of a blended family into the mix.

But when you have situations like new spouses, ex-spouses, biological children, step-children or even life partners, you really have to dot your i’s and cross your t’s to ensure you have the right plans in place to protect your family if the unthinkable happens.

Some of the complexities that arise from being apart of a non-traditional family may be uncomfortable to think about, let alone plan for. But it’s really critical to face these issues head on to ensure everything happens the way YOU want if death or incapacity occurs.

Here are 5 specific things to consider:

  1. What role will your new spouse play in your estate? What role will your children play? For example, those married later in life may choose to leave their entire estate to their biological children, while the new spouse does the same. Or, both spouses may simply choose to leave their assets to the surviving spouse. You can also do a combination of both and even include step-children in your plan as well.
  2. It may seem unlikely now, but there is potential for a spouse who receives your assets to disinherit your biological children. To avoid this, beneficiaries, and their inheritance should be clearly and legally outlined in your will. Likewise, children could move to disinherit the new spouse, so this provision will protect him or her as well.
  3. You should use your will to make your wishes known when it comes to the inheritance of specific assets. Your estate planning attorney can help you to identify what these are, as it is very easy to overlook a particular asset or not fully realize its monetary or sentimental value.
  4. To remove concerns regarding what a spouse, child, or step-child might do should you be unable to oversee your own finances or physical care, talk to your attorney about how a living trust, powers of attorney, or an Advance Health Care Directive can help you retain control in sticky situations.
  5. Review any retirement accounts, mutual funds and insurance policies to ensure they are kept up to date as your family status changes. For example, you may need to remove a former spouse in favor of your current one, add step-children as beneficiaries, or amend your beneficiaries with the birth of a new child.

Probably the most important aspect though, is making sure your estate plan truly reflects your preferences and wishes, as well as applicable laws here in Orange County. And keep in mind that there are a number of special considerations when planning for non-traditional families, so be sure to work with an Orange County estate planning attorney who has experience in this area.

Here at Morgan Law Group, we are happy to work with you and your extended family to ensure you have the right plans in place should the unthinkable happen. Just call (949) 260-1400 and ask to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session. These comprehensive sessions are normally $750, but you can come in free with the mention of this blog post. However, these sessions are limited to 10 per month so reserve your space today!