Many couples who get married today are entering into their second or third marriage. These couples often have children from previous relationships, which can make estate planning a bit more complex than for couples who are parents of the same children. A seasoned estate planning attorney can assist married couples with blended families in the best way to set their estate up so that each spouse’s children are protected and they receive the inheritance they should.
When a couple marries, they each bring their own assets into the marriage. In situations where one spouse has more assets than the other, they may want to set their estate up in a way that should the spouse with more assets dies first, it is their children who will receive those assets. If this isn’t specifically documented in a will, trust, or other estate planning tools, then the bulk of the assets could go to the surviving spouse, whose children would then inherit upon that spouse’s death.
The first thing a couple with a blended family should do is discuss what their goals for their estate are. It is important to share this information with each other. More than likely, each spouse has the same concerns about their own children’s inheritance.
Once this discussion has taken place, the next step is to contact an attorney, like an estate planning lawyer Ridgefield CT trusts, who can set up each spouse’s estate in a way that will achieve their goals. It is important to mention at this point that although each spouse may have explicit trust that the other spouse would make sure that their wishes for their assets going to their own children would be carried out, money can cause people to react in ways we would not predict.
Ask any probate attorney and he or she will likely be able to share stories of families torn apart and battling over their parents’ estate. You may trust your spouse to do the right thing, but there is no way to predict how his or her adult children will react. This is why it is critical to have all your wishes in writing via an estate plan.
The first thing an estate planning attorney will likely suggest is that each spouse create a will. Even if the couple will be utilizing other estate planning tools, a will is critical in documenting what the individual’s wishes are for other assets and property that are not in trusts.
Each spouse can also create trusts which name their own children as beneficiaries. They still maintain control over the assets of the trust while they are alive, but upon their death, ownership of these assets transfers to their children.
In addition, beneficiary designations can be used to designate specific assets to your children upon your death.
Specific arrangements can also be made in an estate plan for different situations. For example, let’s say the home a couple lives in is owned by the husband and his plan is that his children will inherit the house. However, the husband wants to make sure that if he should die before his wife, she will be able to remain living in the house until her death. The husband can stipulate that his wife can remain living in the home and upon her death, his children will then inherit the property. He could also utilize a trust.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Sweeney Legal for their insight into estate planning law.