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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate planning is a topic that can feel confusing or overwhelming for any person, regardless of their personal or financial background. However, when trying to put together an estate plan for a blended family, there are many factors that you need to take into consideration. Although these may be difficult decisions to make at times, doing so will help to prevent any unnecessary stress on your family once you pass away which is the ultimate goal of any estate plan.

What is a Blended Family?

“Blended family” is the terminology that is used when married couples have children from previous marriages or relationships. Blended families typically include half siblings or stepchildren but can also include extended family members who happen to be living in the same home. It’s estimated that approximately 16% of children in the United States are part of a blended family which makes it even more important to have a solid estate plan in place.

Estate Planning Strategies for Blended Families

There are several estate planning strategies that can be used when putting together an estate plan for a blended family. It’s important to note that just because you have a blended family doesn’t mean that you don’t use some of the more traditional estate planning documents. For example, your estate planning attorney will still highly recommend that you have a Revocable Living Trust, Last Will & Testament, Financial Power of Attorney and an Advanced Healthcare Directive. However, estate planning for blended family may take things one step further. Here are some of the examples of estate planning strategies that may be used:

  • Marital Trusts

This type of trust is unique in the sense that it passes assets to your surviving spouse first in the way that a traditional estate plan would. However, a marital trust will ensure that any remaining assets pass to your children once the second spouse passes away. This tool is an excellent way to ensure that both your spouse and your children are financially cared for.

  • Family Trust

If you have younger children, you may find it beneficial to establish a family trust. A family trust combines any assets under one trust umbrella after the death of the first spouse. This gives the surviving spouse the flexibility that they need to tap into those assets if they not only need to access them but also if they need financial support for their children.

  • Specific bequests

One of the easiest estate planning tools to use when it comes to blended families is a specific bequest. This means that specific assets are earmarked for a specific beneficiary (usually a child) in your Will. It’s important, however, that the terms of this specific bequest are airtight. For example, would you like your child to receive this specific bequest at a certain age? Perhaps you would like this bequest to be held in trust and distributed in percentages at a certain point in their life. These are details that your estate planning attorney will review with you and can always adjust if circumstances change.

Develop an Estate Plan for Your Blended Family Today

Our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you and your family put together an estate plan that takes every possible variable into consideration. Regardless of how many children you have or the beneficiaries that you would like to leave an inheritance for, we can review every option with you to ensure that you have a plan in place that will provide a legacy for your loved ones left behind. Contact Gregorek and Associates, PLLC at 425-284-3450 or use the contact form on this page to learn more about estate planning for blended families.

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