Estate planning can be very complex with a blended family, so ask for help from a qualified estate planning attorney.
Everyone needs estate planning but it can be especially vital if yours is a so-called blended family with whom none of the various members have a close relationship with the other members. Here are a few general ideas to help you think about your blended family:
Update Beneficiary Designations. Get all of your beneficiaries set and updated, like those on your retirement accounts and insurance policies. This will ensure that they reflect your blended family. It is important to remember that these designations take priority over the instructions in your will—it’s a totally separate deal.
Living Trust. While you’re at it, consider a professional trustee for a living trust. Trusts can help you to avoid probate and allow you the freedom to decide how and when you want your assets distributed. After you pass away, a properly created trust can provide a surviving spouse with income for life. After he or she dies, it will then give the children from an earlier marriage the remainder of the trust assets. To be fair to all, you may want to hire a professional third-party trustee who isn’t a beneficiary of the trust and isn’t entitled any of the trust assets. This person or company wouldn’t have a vested interest in how proceeds of the trust are distributed.
Prenuptial Agreement. When settling an estate, a prenuptial agreement can help eliminate disputes among members in a blended family. With a pre-nup, you can detail a separation of property for your will, your living trust, and any other relevant estate-planning arrangements in the event that you and your new spouse agree to keep your assets separate so you can each pass an inheritance to your own children.
Finally, be sure to share your estate-planning intentions with the members of your blended family. This can help prevent bad feelings and unpleasant surprises.
Reference: Fairfield Bay (AR) News (November 9, 2016) “Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families”