Estate Planning for Blended Families

With 75% of divorced persons remarrying, blended families have become a common predominant family form in the US.1 The merging of two families brings with it a number of complicated considerations for each spouse while they plan for their new spouse and children from their prior relationships.

First, it is important to identify your goals and priorities, which normally include providing for your new spouse as well as your children. Leaving everything to your new spouse is one option, but the surviving spouse can change their estate plan or make gifts of assets to their family members. On the other hand, your spouse may have financial needs if you are not around. Trusts are often used to accomplish multiple objectives such as these. Trust planning should only be done with the help of a qualified attorney.

Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements can be effective in identifying which assets should be kept separate. There are very specific requirements for these types of agreements to hold up.

Beneficiary designations in life insurance policies, annuities and retirement accounts, and joint tenancy designations should be reviewed before or shortly after a remarriage. Often, the designations, such as those of former spouses, do not reflect what you want done in your new situation and need to be changed.

Divorce, death of a spouse, and planned remarriage are all situations where your estate plan is likely to need changes and where consultation with an estate planning attorney can better ensure that your goals will be met. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions concerning these life-changing events.