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Estate planning for blended families

Divorce and remarriage is very common in America. Second marriages often bring children into the marriage from previous relationships and sometimes couples have children with their new partner. With this more complicated family structure, estate planning is very important.

A person who is remarried and doesn’t have an estate plan at the time of their death is probably going to embroil their family in a major dispute over their assets. The inheritance can easily be split up not according to your wishes, or an ex-spouse may still be listed as a beneficiary on a bank account, retirement account or an old will.

For those who have a blended family there are a few things to consider in whether an estate plan is needed. First, it is important that the current spouse is listed as a power of attorney in a will. That way that person will have the authority to manage the financial assets if the spouse becomes incapacitated. It is also important to list that spouse as the person who is authorized to make health care decisions as well. If there are minor children, a guardian should be named to ensure their care is met and not affected by a courtroom making the decision as to where they should go. It is also very important to have a plan as to where assets should go after death, whether to the spouse, children or charity.

Every family is different and has unique needs when it comes to estate planning. It is important to make sure a family’s wishes and future needs are met when drafting a will, trust, health care directive or other estate planning document. Planning ahead ensures that when a person dies the family does not need to focus on the monetary issues, but can instead work through their grief and move on.

Source:, “Estate planning: Planning critical for blended families”, Shawn Garner, May 9, 2016

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