Today’s family doesn’t always look like the nuclear family of yesteryear. Today, families can come together in many different ways creating a beautifully blended unit. And as the definition of family has evolved over the years, estate planning needs to evolve, too.
Estate planning for blended families is not much different than traditional estate planning – it just needs to accommodate more people. Putting a plan in place to divide up assets can ensure that everyone is cared for if one spouse were to die – and prevents the possibility of unfair treatment.
While speaking to an estate planning attorney is the best way to understand your next steps, here are a few tips to consider when it comes to planning for the future of your blended family.
What is a Blended Family?
In a nutshell, a blended family doesn’t always look the same. It may be a couple who come together with kids from a different relationship. There may be half-siblings or step-siblings. Extended family may be deeply rooted members of the blended family, residing in the same home and sharing in the daily responsibilities.
Each with its own dynamic, there are millions of blended families throughout the United States – and this number is still growing.
How Estate Planning for Blended Families is Different
As mentioned, estate planning is not that much different for blended families. There are just a few more things to consider. For instance, in a traditional situation, the assets would be left to the remaining spouse who would then provide for the shared child or children. In a blended family, the deceased may be leaving behind a spouse as well as kids from a previous relationship.
To overcome disagreements and unfair treatment before it even starts, an estate plan can make sure everyone is taken care of.
Another example is guardianship. Traditionally, a child or children would stay with and be cared for by their remaining parent. But what if that parent is a step-parent? Tackling the subject of guardianship is another major part of estate planning for blended families.
Common Estate Planning Tools for Blended Families
There are many different options available for estate planning that can benefit blended families. A few of the most common include:
Testamentary Trust: Is set up within a will. A will is different from a trust – and the assets here don’t get moved into one. A will states directives for assets and is used in blended families when the deceased spouse wants to leave assets directly to their child or children.
Marital Trust: A marital trust will transfer your assets to your spouse when you die. However, it does so with the stipulation that anything left when the remaining spouse dies will be given to your children.
Outright Ownership: In estate planning, outright ownership refers to transferring all the assets to the surviving spouse. There is nothing legally in place for the children – this is based on the trust that the spouse will care for them.
Again, these are just a few of the most common options when it comes to estate planning for blended families. Because each of these families is unique and you want to ensure that everything is planned for properly, it is imperative that you discuss your options with an estate planning attorney.
Feel Confident in Your Estate Planning
When you work with an experienced estate planning attorney at Northern Virginia Trusts and Estates, you can feel confident that your loved ones will be taken care of when you are no longer here. Estate planning is important for any family – but it is vital for blended families.
To learn more or to get started, contact us today at (703) 938-3510.