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How to Prepare for Estate Complications If You Have Children from a Previous Relationship

By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
July 25, 2019

Estate Planning

How to Prepare for Estate Complications If You Have Children from a Previous Relationship

There are many complications and challenges of step-family life. One of the biggest issues? How to handle estate matters.

Our laws have certain priorities in terms of how an inheritance is divided, but they were not necessarily created for blended families, and the chances of your desires matching up exactly with the “standard” model are slim.

By following the simple tips below, you can prevent unforeseen complications and misunderstandings that could pull your step-family unit apart with regards to your estate.

Update Your Will

Depending on where you live, some state statutes may invalidate your current will when you remarry – and in so doing, unintentionally disinherit any children from your previous marriage. Hence, it’d be wise to re-evaluate your estate-planning and update your documents.

Do not simply assume that the will you have will automatically protect all of your children. Take the time to update your estate plan with all of your children in mind.

Choose an Executor

Your executor – or personal representative – carries out the terms of your will. You should decide who is going to be the personal representative of your estate plan. It could be your new spouse, your child from a previous relationship, your child from your new relationship, or someone else altogether.

In fact, since executing a will for a blended family can, at times, be quite complex, it’s often far better to designate a third-party as your personal representative, such as an estate planning attorney or accountant. A professional, third-party executor will help avoid any confusion or awkwardness that may ensue when carrying out the terms of your will.

Consider Remarriage Protection

Your spouse may decide to remarry after you die. If that happens, it’s possible that your assets will become commingled. So, how do you protect your assets for your children – if that’s your wish? 

The answer is simple – create a trust. Establishing a trust will protect specific assets that you wish to pass on to your children directly. 

More on Establishing a Trust

Beside protecting assets for your children, several other important wishes can be spelled out in a trust. Inheritance timing is one critical wish that you can include when setting one up.

For example, what happens if you predecease your new spouse? Do your children have to wait until your new spouse dies to get the inheritance you leave them? 

Note that if your assets are jointly-owned, your death might unintentionally disinherit children from your previous relationship, giving your new spouse the final say over who inherits what.

Speak to a Florida Estate Planning Attorney

Developing a comprehensive estate plan to meet the needs of your new blended family will require the input of a skilled estate planning attorney. Talking to a professional will help you discover the perfect estate planning strategy for your step-family. 

For example, the attorney will help customize your trust to protect your beneficiaries while providing income for the surviving spouse.

Author:
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Haimo Law
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
Email: barry@haimolaw.com 
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