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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