Blended family with five children outdoors at a park

Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families

Estate plans serve many purposes, including ensuring your loved ones are provided for after you’ve passed. 

Whether you’re in a blended family and need to create an estate plan or had an estate plan before forming a blended family and need to revise, an estate planning attorney can provide quality guidance. 

What is a blended family?

A blended family refers to a married couple with children from previous relationships. One or both spouses may already have children when they meet and marry their current spouse.

Forming a blended family can be beautiful and rewarding but can also come with certain challenges, especially regarding estate planning. 

Helpful Tips for Blended Family Estate Planning

The following tips will help you create and maintain an ideal estate plan tailored to your blended family’s needs.

Consider What Documents You’ll Need

Several documents make up a typical estate plan, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, among others. All of these documents work together to accomplish estate planning goals.

A basic will likely won’t be sufficient if you have a blended family. Blended families often benefit from more extensive plans, including different types of trusts. 

If you’re unsure which estate planning documents suit your blended family’s needs, an estate planning lawyer can advise you. 

Pick the Right Personal Representative

Knowing that no matter what happens, you’re leaving a reliable individual in charge of your estate can give you tremendous peace of mind. This goes for anyone creating an estate plan, but particularly those with blended families, as they’re such a unique dynamic.

Upon your passing, your personal representative will handle everything regarding your estate, including probating your estate if needed and distributing assets and property as specified.

Many choose spouses as personal representatives, while others prefer neutral third parties. Having a third-party personal representative is often the better option, as it guarantees that the individual doesn’t have any biases and ensures that everything goes as planned. 

Don’t Just Leave Everything to Your Spouse

In many marriages, everything goes to the surviving spouse, as it’s assumed that they’ll then pass certain assets on to the children. However, the reality often isn’t so simple in blended families.

When a person leaves everything to their spouse, they’re trusting them to share property and assets with the children. But in some unfortunate circumstances, the decedent’s biological children get little or nothing while the spouse and their own children benefit.

Instead, consider leaving some assets to your biological children specifically.

Determine Who Will Make Important Healthcare Decisions

Making healthcare decisions is a big responsibility.

Many individuals automatically nominate their spouses for this duty, but this can be tricky depending on the relationship they have with your children. If your children are old enough, they may feel they’re more entitled to make decisions regarding your health.

Give this decision plenty of thought before creating your healthcare power of attorney documents for your estate plan. 

Revisit and Revise Estate Plans as Needed

It’s common for people to create estate plans and then forget all about them. However, circumstances change. Periodically revisiting your estate plan and making any necessary revisions helps ensure you always have an estate plan that’s appropriate for your current situation. 

Consult With an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is confusing enough as it is, and that confusion can easily be compounded if you have a blended family. Fortunately, a skilled estate planning attorney can provide valuable legal guidance to create the right estate plan. 

OC Wills & Trusts Attorneys have extensive experience advising clients in blended families. We’re headquartered in Orange County and happily serve clients in the surrounding areas. Contact us today to request a consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer.

Since joining OC Wills & Trust Attorneys in 2016, Ellie Hsu has guided hundreds of clients in their estate planning matters. She is dedicated to understanding the individual needs and unique objectives of each client, in order to craft customized estate plans that reflect the client’s goals. If you have any questions regarding this article, reach out to Ellie Hsu today.