Friday, August 8, 2014
For families with a mix of biological children and stepchildren, first and second spouses, estate planning can be somewhat more intricate. No one wants to leave his or her heirs with a mess to sort out or fight over. Below are top six things to remember when you are planning for a blended family:
- Length of time family has been together. If you and you second spouse married when your children were young, or if you had your own children together, you have a large family. “In these situations, you truly have a blended family, and you should proceed with your will as if all your children were your biological children and your second spouse is your first spouse.” However, if your children were older when you remarried, you will need to make separate provisions for biological children and stepchildren.
- Provide for your second spouse, but provide for children immediately. Do not structure your will so your children have to wait for your spouse to die before they get their inheritance.
- Plan for home and property. “If it’s the family home where your children grew up, are they going to be OK with their stepparent living there fore then next 30 years? How do you provide for that?” Each circumstance is different and something you must take into consideration.
- Worry less about taxes. Don’t let taxes become a priority; rather, make equal distribution the goal. “If people are happy, in the long run it’s cheaper.”
- Communication is key. Communicate with all parties involved and let them know what you want to do and how you want to accomplish them. Manage family expectations, tell them your perspective and ask their opinion.
- Consult experts. To plan properly, you may need a lawyer, financial planner and a family therapist.
See Kathryn Tuggle, 6 Things to Consider When Estate Planning for Your Second Family, The Street, Aug. 7, 2014.