If you are among the millions of Americans who are part of a blended family, you have probably faced your share of challenges trying to blend two families into one. You may also deal with worries and concerns that are unique to blended families, such as the desire to protect both your current spouse and your children from a previous relationship. At Slaton Schauer Law Firm, PLLC we understand those concerns and can help you create an estate plan that addresses them.
Why Does Remarriage Heighten the Need for Estate Planning?
Divorce and remarriage are now commonplace in the United States. Additionally, because people are living much longer lives, remarriage often occurs after a beloved spouse passes away, even after 50 or 60 years of marriage. During a first marriage, the spouses typically create reciprocal estate plans that leave their entire estate to the surviving spouse. If the couple have children, the idea is that the surviving spouse will then pass the couple’s assets to their children prior to, or upon the second spouse’s death. However; a second marriage complicates this “traditional” plan.
Divorce alone creates a problem with this traditional estate plan. However, remarriage adds an even more important reason to review and revise an existing estate plan. Once you remarry, you have a new spouse to consider, along with children from a previous marriage. Simply leaving everything to your current spouse and counting on him/her to preserve and pass down those assets to your children requires a considerable amount of faith. When a remarriage occurs after the death of a beloved spouse, often each person getting married has adult children and often grandchildren. We all know about situations where problems arise when death occurs, between the adult children of the person and the spouse. Children often get “cut out” by the spouse or sometimes by siblings, or the current wife believes she was shortchanged or treated disrespectfully by something that occurred.
Many people do not realize that in Texas if you die without a will or trust, unless you have no other children except those with your current spouse, assets owned by you will be divided between your current spouse and children by the previous relationship. Often people just assume that either all the assets that were accumulated with the first spouse will go to the children of that marriage, or they assume that all the assets will stay in the hands of the spouse that they are married to at the time of their death and then only after the second spouse’s death, will assets then be divided. Both of these assumptions are usually wrong. If you wish to control how your assets are distributed and when they are distributed, you need to have an estate plan. The Slaton Schauer Law Firm, PLLC has the experience to help you with these complicated matters. We can create a plan to allow you to designate which assets should go to your children alone, which assets should go to your spouse’s children alone, and which should be divided between all the children, if any. You can decide WHEN you wish to see these assets placed into each person’s hands.
Along with creating concerns about how to protect and provide for your blended family, remarriage also brings up related estate planning issues. For example, you may need to reconsider who will serve as the Executor of your estate or the Trustee of a trust if you have adult children from a previous relationship. You should also think about who will take control of your assets and who you want to make medical decisions for you if you are ever incapacitated.
Estate Planning Solutions for the Blended Family
Updating your existing estate plan should be a priority if you remarry and become part of a blended family. Consider changing your beneficiary designations along with reviewing fiduciary roles (such as Executor or Trustee) as soon as possible. If you don’t want to depend on your current spouse to pass down assets to your children, you may decide to create a special type of trust (known as a “QTIP” trust) that can provide for your spouse financially after you are gone while also protecting and preserving assets intended for your children. These are just a few of the estate planning tools and strategies that can help you protect the people who are important to you if you are part of a blended family.
The estate planning attorneys at Slaton Schauer Law Firm, PLLC look forward to helping you review and revise your estate plan to reflect your concerns as part of a blended family. Contact our office today by calling 512-258-9455 or filling out our online contact form.