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Important Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families

Fri, Nov 04, 2022 at 1:45PM

Important Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families

Blended families are formed when a married couple blends children from each one’s previous marriages into a new family and sometimes has more children together. These familial relations can be complicated to navigate, especially from an estate planning and financial perspective.

Different states have different succession laws, which can affect who will inherit what and how much when one partner in a blended family marriage passes away.

If you’re drafting a will, trust, or other estate planning documents, an experienced wills attorney can help you divide your assets between all of the members of your blended family in the manner you wish.

Florida Succession and Inheritance Laws and Prior Divorce

To begin estate planning as a blended family, spouses in blended families should each take an inventory of all accounts, including joint accounts, work retirement accounts, and accounts set up before the couple wed.

One or both spouses may realize that some assets are still legally shared with an ex-partner or that the beneficiary for a TOD succession of assets is still listed as their ex.

Inventory other assets, including vehicles, jewelry, valuables, and real estate. Value these and your accounts, and ensure that assets with a transfer-on-death clause have the correct party listed. You may also need to update the beneficiaries on any life insurance policies.

If you don’t make changes to your estate plan after a divorce, your current spouse may not have any recourse to claim assets that are still assigned to go to the ex-spouse on your death.

Solid Blended-Family Estate Plans and How They Affect Probate in Volusia County

Estate plans are critical for blended families, especially when one or both parties have children from a prior marriage or relationship. For example, many parents leave certain assets to biological children, especially family heirlooms, but still wish to provide for their step-children.

Without an estate plan, however, these valuable family heirlooms may be sold and the funds lumped in with the rest of the estate. Or, no matter how long you were in their lives and how close you were, your stepchildren may receive nothing.

Probate courts may not recognize the step-parent and child relation if one or both spouses pass without a will.

There are a couple of other considerations for blended family estate planning:

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement for a second marriage can ensure that biological children are provided for. These tools can help you and your spouse designate which of your separate assets you wish to pass to your respective children in the event one of you dies. 

Beneficiary Designations

A beneficiary designation applies to assets that would pass outside probate in Volusia County. These designations take priority over the terms of a will. Therefore, it’s critical to update your designations anytime you have a significant life change.

If you’re planning on getting remarried, especially if one or both of you have children, it’s critical to have proper estate planning to ensure that all of your family members receive the correct assets and your true financial wishes are honored after you pass.

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