Many people may feel estate planning to be unnecessary as they assume their assets will simply flow to their surviving spouse after they die and, then, eventually to their children. However, in a blended family, this flow of assets may be less than clear or confirmed. A surviving spouse may not be the biological or adopted parent of the children and the distribution of assets to the kids from that spouse may never happen. Every remarried couple should address these issues up front with a good estate plan.
Forbes recommends that spouses in a blended family carefully review their financial plans and identify what assets they will mix together and what assets they will keep separate. From there, any comingled assets should be reviewed to identify how those assets will be distributed upon the death of the first spouse and then upon the death of the surviving spouse. These decisions should be clearly documented. Some types of trusts allow people to stipulate immediate disbursement of some assets to one’s children while retaining other assets for a surviving spouse, for example.
Another consideration when making an estate plan for a remarried person is any responsibility to a former spouse or to any children. This may include alimony and child support or a divorce decree stipulation that a former spouse remain as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy.
If you would like to learn more about how to create an estate plan after you get remarried that balances your wish to provide for your new spouse, your children and other parties appropriately, please feel free to visit the blended family’s asset protection and distribution page of our Michigan estate planning website.