More and more often, families include less traditional definitions than they once did. Remarriages are more common, and cohabitation in lieu of marriage is also more common. In other words, blended families are increasingly common in our society today. If you are considering remarriage or have already remarried, it is extremely important to think about estate planning for your new marriage and how to either approach it from the beginning or revisit an estate plan that may already be in place. The following tips could prove useful for blended families exploring the estate planning process and may help you figure out where to begin your estate planning discussion with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Consider a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement that you enter into with your perspective spouse before the two of you get married. It sets out terms that dictate the property and financial rights of the spouses in case of divorce. They can also be used to set forth terms of asset distribution and other important aspects of estate planning. By specifying these terms, you can help your loved ones avoid conflict between members of your blended family while ensuring that your wishes for your assets are carried out. A postnuptial agreement can accomplish many of the same goals but is entered into after you have already gotten married.
Update Beneficiary Designations
When your family dynamics change, or whenever you encounter any sort of major life event, it is important to make sure to update your beneficiary designation forms. Chances are you may have switched your beneficiaries after your first marriage ended, but if you did not then remarriage is a reminder. Even if you did, you may wish to include your new spouse as either the sole beneficiary of some assets or at least as a shared beneficiary. The same goes for any children you have during your new marriage, or if you decide to adopt your new spouse’s children or simply want to include them in your Will. Many assets that have beneficiary designations can avoid probate and other legal hurdles after your death, providing much needed financial security for your loved ones.
Communicate Your Wishes
One of the most important aspects of marriage and family is strong communication. The same is true for issues involving estate planning. It is extremely important that you make sure to communicate your wishes and how you plan to go about estate planning to all of those that have a stake in the outcome of that process. You will need to involve all members of your blended family, and while you might not be able to make every individual completely happy communicating your wishes and explaining the reasons behind them can be an important step in avoiding conflict between families after your death. Often, and ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure – no matter how unpleasant or difficult those preventative steps might be.