Estate planning is rarely a straightforward, simple process. Rather, it requires thoughtful, detailed consideration of how to plan for the eventual transfer of your estate to your loved ones. However, for those with blended families, this process can become even more complex.
Remarriage has been rising across both Florida and the U.S. for years. Whether the makeup of your family includes a second or third marriage, children from previous relationships, stepchildren or more, estate planning for your unique family structure may require some additional problem solving to account for potentially sensitive circumstances. For this reason, it is critical to not only get started early on your estate plan, but to continually update it to keep it current.
The importance of communication
Discussing your estate plan with your family may seem uncomfortable or emotional. However, doing so in advance to provide clarity can go a long way to avoid disputes or confusion later on. Talk to your spouse about your shared goals to provide for each other while also potentially leaving assets to your children. If beginning this conversation on your own seems too distressing, consider having your attorney guide the discussion.
Tips to consider when planning your estate
Beyond clear and consistent communication, Forbes recently outlined several tips to implement when planning your estate for your blended family:
- Understand you may need more than a will. Consider incorporating a trust into your estate plan to ensure that both your spouse and children gain access to what you intended for them.
- Carefully select your executor and/or trustee. The executor of your estate and trustee of your trust are tasked with important responsibilities. Choose carefully to avoid tension.
- Consider other ways to give to your children. Leaving assets to your children upon your death, including through transfer-on-death deeds, can also ensure they receive what you intended.
- Plan for future uncertainties. You could become incapacitated and unable to make key financial or healthcare decisions. Your spouse could remarry after your death. Plan for such unknowns.
In the aftermath of the death of a loved one, both tensions and emotions can run high among even the tightest-knit of families. By putting careful, thoughtful consideration into your estate plan, you can work to avoid future conflict between your spouse, children, stepchildren and more and ensure that your loved ones receive what you wished.