[Video] Estate Planning for the Blended Family

It is very common for clients to come to me regarding their estate plans when they have blended family issues.  Blended families are not only the result of divorce.  Many individuals live longer now and may want to remarry if they outlive their spouses.

If you are a member of a blended family, you will want to make sure your estate plan is well-suited to your specific needs.  A well-drafted estate plan can help minimize the risk of accidentally disinheriting children from a prior marriage, of a former spouse inheriting certain accounts even though the deceased spouse willed them to her children, or countless other scenarios that you may not wish to occur.

A revocable living trust can be helpful in instructing the successor trustee about whom should receive which of your assets when you die.  A trust may also provide the successor trustee to make distributions according to certain guidelines, such as for health care, education, or others.

A QTIP trust, or qualified terminable interest property trust, may also be helpful if a client wants to provide for the surviving spouse during her lifetime if she predeceases her spouse, while also preserving assets for the decedent spouse’s children or other designated beneficiaries.

A prenuptial agreement may also be a good way for individuals who are remarrying to emphasize which assets are separate property and, more specifically, which assets should go to their children.  In addition, it is important to remember that following any divorce, former spouses should review their estate plan, ownership of bank and financial accounts, including brokerage accounts, and the title on real estate, insurance, vehicles, and other assets.

Estate planning documents are living, breathing documents that should be changed and updated to suit your needs.  Mendes Weed, LLP helps to advise clients who are undergoing major life events as it pertains to their estate plans.  We hope you will reach out to us if you have questions.

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[Video] When Should I Update My Estate Plan?

[Video] When Should I Update My Estate Plan?

When Do You Need to Update Your Estate Plan?

Any time you undergo a significant life event such as:

Marriage

  • First Marriage- In California, your spouse does not receive 100% of your estate under the laws of intestate succession; specify whom you want to receive your assets when you die.
  • Subsequent marriages- If you leave all of your assets to your new spouse, they are not obligated to give whatever is left to your children. There are a number of ways to provide for both your spouse and your children, as well as anyone else. An estate planning attorney can assist you in creating an estate plan that is customized for your needs.

Children

  • If you have children, name a guardian for the them. Set up a trust for your children so that your assets are set aside for your children when they get older. In California, minor children cannot legally inherit your assets outright.
  • As children get older, update your estate plan. Your children may no longer need a trust, and you may want to appoint them as successor trustees, executors, or agents under your power of attorney or advance healthcare directive.
  • Your children can now receive an outright distribution, and you may want to include provisions in your trust for how the money may be used-consider education, healthcare, or other important purposes.
  • You may also want to provide for distributions in stages rather than one lump sum payment when they are young adults.

Divorce or Death of a Spouse

  • You will likely need to appoint new or different successor trustees, executors, and agents.
  • You will also need to make sure to update your beneficiaries on any retirement plans or insurance policies.

Increase in Assets

  • If your estate is well under the estate tax exemption amount, you do not need to worry about estate tax planning as much.
  • If your estate grows, a trust can assist with estate tax planning matters.
  • If you have recently acquired or disposed of significant assets, your estate plan should indicate this change.

If you have questions about estate tax planning, it is important to reach out to an estate planning attorney, especially one well-versed in tax law, to make sure you have an estate plan that is right for you.

Contact Mendes Weed, LLP, Your Estate Planning Attorney.

If you or a loved one in the SF Bay Area want more information about estate planning, please give Mendes Weed, LLP a call at 925-390-3222.  We are here to help. Our main office is located in Walnut Creek, and we serve clients in Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, Pleasanton, Livermore, Solano Counties, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sacramento.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020