Blended families make up a significant portion of the American population, and estate planning takes on a different look when trying to account for the needs or expectations of all the children involved.
While the documentation would look similar to what you find with a nuclear family, there are different considerations and provisions to make.
Deciding the details of the inheritance
It is important to create a will that covers the details of who gets what when one spouse passes away. By having each parent create a will, they can list and divide specific non-marital assets between the stepchildren and biological children. These are the assets owned prior to the marriage. It is important to ensure each child receives an asset that another child or the surviving spouse cannot claim.
Creating a trust
In addition to using a will to divide assets, creating a specialized trust also ensures that your children and stepchildren have their inheritance protected. Putting assets in a trust recategorizes who the property belongs to, as it moves from being marital property into being the property of the trust’s recipient. Although there are restrictions on the items that are eligible for placement into a trust, the benefits of setting instructions and standards that govern the passing of assets make a trust desirable.
Failing to address the complexities of making a well or establishing a trust with a blended family could leave your children, stepchildren or spouse weighed down by lengthy legal battles. Be proactive in deciding how to divide your assets through a will or specialized trust.