Estate Planning for Blended Families
Thousand Oaks Estate Planning Attorneys
A weekend spent binge-watching re-runs of the Brady Bunch could convince any cynic that “happily ever after,” camaraderie and heartfelt family bonds can be possible in any blended family. While many unions produce just those results, there are countless others that create discord, distrust, and dissension. With national divorce rates in excess of 50% and the rate of re-marriage after divorce at over 75%, blended families are the “norm” and are becoming more common than so-called “traditional” families.
Every blended family presents unique issues in estate planning, yet many estate planning attorneys plan for them the same way they would plan for a couple in a single marriage that had been together for 50 years. That is a mistake that can result in unintended disinheritances and family conflict. Our firm recognizes the distinct planning considerations present in blended families and can help you and your spouse create a customized solution that protects your entire family, including children from a prior marriage.
Avoid Unintended Consequences
Without careful legal planning, your ex-spouse (as surviving parent/guardian) would likely be appointed by a judge as the person in charge of managing any inheritance you leave to your minor children. Most parents don’t want their ex having that kind of control. To make matters worse, what if your kids later predecease your ex-spouse and are single and childless at the time? Who would inherit the assets you left to your kids? Without proper planning, it could be your ex-spouse.
Additionally, if you die before your new spouse, you could end up unintentionally disinheriting your own children from your share of the blended assets. Your assets could even end up being inherited by your stepchildren or your current spouse’s next spouse-unless your estate plan is specifically tailored to guard against such outcomes.
Keeping family heirlooms in the family and properly protecting separate property owned before remarriage are just a few of the many additional issues that blended families need to address.
Our Thousand Oaks law office is here to navigate you through these challenges and assist you in developing a plan that will give you peace of mind and help maintain family harmony. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.