The Importance of Estate Planning for Blended Families

An estimated 75% of the 1.2 million Americans who divorce every year eventually marry again. Some have children with their new spouse, while others become stepparents to their spouse’s children from a previous marriage. The resulting blended families have their own unique challenges, one of them being property inheritance issues.

What Estate Planning Does

Estate planning is a process that arranges for the disposal and management of a person’s estate after they die. In addition to maximizing an estate’s value by reducing expenses like taxes, it eliminates uncertainties over who the beneficiaries are and what they receive.

When No Estate Plan Exists

Failure to establish an estate plan can result in unanticipated difficulties. In Florida, any property that would have been subject to the probate process had you left a will must be distributed to living heirs in accordance with the state’s pre-determined intestate succession laws. For example, if you have a living spouse and no children, your spouse will inherit all probate property. If you have a living spouse and living children from that marriage, your spouse will still automatically inherit all probate property. But, if you have a living spouse and children from a previous marriage, your spouse will inherit half of the property while the other half is distributed amongst your kids. There is no way to circumvent intestate succession if you don’t leave a will, and this state-directed distribution may be contrary to your wishes.

It is equally problematic if you try to simplify your will by leaving entire estate to your spouse and relying on their discretion when it comes to distributing assets to your own children. Unless circumstances have led you to decide otherwise, you likely want children from prior relationships or marriages to be provided for after you die, but this arrangement delivers no guarantee. Your surviving spouse is not legally obligated to honor your wishes, and could easily amend his or her own will to disinherit your own children. Without an estate plan, you cannot ensure that any of your estate ends up with a particular beneficiary.

The Benefits of Estate Planning

Creating an estate plan delivers the following benefits:

  • It ensures that certain assets end up with the beneficiaries you select
  • If you are the first to die, any children from a prior marriage or relationship are provided for as you intended.
  • The potential for hostility and rivalry among your heirs is reduced, as your wishes are made clear and there is nothing to guess at or compete over.

Every blended family is unique, with its own interpersonal challenges and dynamics, but an experienced estate planning attorney can help you create a plan that achieves your goals. Call Legacy Planning Law Group today and schedule an appointment. We will help you put together a plan that maximizes the value of your estate for your intended beneficiaries.

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.