If you are in a marital relationship and have children from a previous relationship, you have a blended family. If you’re like most people, you, likely, find it challenging balancing your relationships with each loved one and between your loved ones. Implementing these 4 estate planning “musts” for blended families will improve your family relationships and help to keep the peace.
- Talk it Over
Have a family conversation to establish an open line of communication. To lessen natural competition and jealousies, ensure each family member of his or her place in your heart, the family, and the estate plan.
Let your loved ones ask questions and express concerns, either during the family conversation or privately.
- Update Your Estate Plan
As your family evolves, your estate plan must also evolve to meet your current needs and intent. Make sure your estate plan addresses the needs of your spouse, as well as your children, especially those from a previous relationship.
Don’t make your children from a previous relationship wait to inherit assets. Have them inherit financial assets and special personal possessions, such as family heirlooms, immediately at your death.
- Use Trust Planning, Don’t Give Inheritances Outright
Trust planning allows you to divide assets among loved ones as you see fit; it protects the assets and assures that they stay in your family line.
If you own your assets jointly with your spouse and die first, you will disinherit your children from a previous relationship. They will receive nothing; it happens every day.
- Acknowledge Step-Children and Grandchildren
Acknowledge your children from various relationships, step-children, and grandchildren in your life and in your estate plan. This doesn’t mean that inheritances must be the same; but even a small gift will be valued. After all, money equals love in the human psyche.
If you have a blended family and want to promote well-being and peace, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.