Everyone the age of 18 and above should have at least a basic estate plan in place. For some people, estate planning is even more important than it is for others. If you are part of a blended family, a comprehensive estate plan takes on a heightened importance. Learning why estate planning is so important for blended families should provide you with the incentive you need to create your estate plan.
In the 21st century, divorce is common, as are second (and subsequent) marriages. One out of every five marriages in the U.S. includes at least one previously married partner. In one out of every three marriages, a “blended family” is created, amounting to over 100 million people being part of a blended family in the United States. The dynamics in a blended family can be challenging for everyone involved. Sometimes, children from a previous marriage never really accept the remarriage, causing permanent tension. That tension can also cause potential problems if one of the spouse’s ever becomes incapacitated or dies. This is one of the many reasons why it is crucial to have a comprehensive estate plan in place when you are part of a blended family.
If you have children from a previous relationship you normally want some, or all, of your assets to be passed down to those children when you die. In a first marriage, the spouses often make reciprocal wills, meaning they both leave all their assets to each other, counting on the survivor to then pass down the combined assets to the children upon his or her death. If you are in a second marriage, your spouse is not the parent of your children from your first marriage, which makes reciprocal wills not a good option. Many times you can still count on your spouse to leave assets to your children should you be the first to die. However, he or she will be under no legal obligation to do so, and the surviving spouse could remarry. Moreover, leaving everything to your spouse may lead to continued resentment in the family even after your death. The best option is to create an estate plan that ensures your family will receive assets directly from your estate, either as gifts in your will or through a trust agreement.
Regardless of the method you choose, the important thing is that you take the time to create an estate plan that ensures your wishes with regards to your children will be honored when you die. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning for blended families, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.