Blending two families often comes with its share of ups and downs. Spouses who are busy trying to handle the emotional and practical aspects of blending families often forget about some of the estate planning considerations that a blended family brings with it such as:
Fiduciaries – the executor of your will, an agent in a power of attorney, or a trustee of a trust all wield considerable power within your estate plan. Once two families are blended you may wish to reconsider these roles and appoint someone who is a neutral third party to ensure that there is no conflict or negative repercussion as a result of your choice down the road.
Beneficiaries – be sure to drag out that twenty year old retirement or pension plan that you forgot about and change the beneficiary so that your now ex-spouse does not receive the assets.
Long-term care – despite any verbal or written agreements that state you will each be responsible for your own long-term care costs, the Medicaid program will count your new spouse’s assets and income so be sure to discuss Medicaid planning with your estate planning attorney.
Gifts – be sure that your Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents are very clear about gifts. Trusting your new spouse is an integral part of marriage; however, in order to ensure that your own children from a previous relationship receive intended estate assets you must say so in your estate plan.
Obligations to former spouse/children – your new spouse may be legally obligated to pay child or spousal support or to maintain a life insurance policy with them as beneficiaries. Make sure you are aware of these obligations and consider them in your new estate plans.
For additional estate planning information and questions, please join us at an upcoming seminar.