How would you feel if your ex-spouse received your retirement benefits after your death? Likewise, what if your current spouse received considerably less assets from your estate than your children from a previous marriage despite the fact that you have children together? The possible scenarios are endless when a member of a blended family dies without creating an estate plan.
A blended family presents unique issues when it comes to estate planning. Often, a blended family involves children that are “mine, yours and ours”, all of whom need to be taken into consideration when planning your estate. People often put off discussing estate planning simply because the issue can ignite strong emotions; however, the need to plan ahead for the possibility of the death of one spouse is even more important in a blended family.
If you die without an estate plan in place, state and federal laws will determine how your estate is divided and handled. State laws can vary widely with regard to intestate succession; however, it is unlikely that your state laws will result in a division of your estate assets that precisely mirrors how your would divided the estate. The often complicated laws relating to retirement and pension plans as well as federal benefits such as Social Security or Veteran’s benefits can also further complicated the matter. The end result could be that those who need the assets left in your estate receive the least from the estate. In order to prevent this from happening, take the time to discuss your estate plan with all involved parties and implement the plan with the help of your estate planning attorney.