Blended families, or couples with children from different relationships, should consider updating their New York estate plan in 2020. Creating or updating a personalized New York estate plan is the single most important thing you can do to make sure your decisions are honored should you become incapacitated or pass away. There is simply no guarantee that your wishes will be followed without a legally secure estate plan.

The beginning of a new year is often the best time to address estate planning items. Setting resolutions and goals during this time of year encourages each of us to reflect on past events and current concerns, which can help us get the most out of the year to come. Consider these questions:

  • When was the last time your New York estate plan was updated?
  • What has changed in the interim?
  • Did any of your children get married or divorced, or pass away?
  • Do you have new grandchildren to plan for?
  • Have you changed your mind about a particular estate goal?

These questions apply to everyone, but blended families have additional considerations. For instance, blended family spouses may have accumulated their own assets before their marriage and may desire to pass them along to their own biological children upon death. If a spouse dies without a legally enforceable Florida estate plan, however, the surviving spouse may be able to do whatever he or she wishes with the deceased’s property, including spending assets intended for the deceased’s children.

Let us share a few key tips for blended families to ensure you can avoid such scenarios:

  • Talk about end-of-life planning issues with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney
  • Consider keeping assets and bank accounts separate
  • Plan forward to ensure you have the right person acting as agent under your power of attorney
  • Double-check to make sure your estate planning reflects what you want

An important Florida estate planning tool to consider is a trust agreement. Whether revocable or irrevocable, this planning technique can come with distinct advantages over last will and testaments, and can allow for biological children to be protected while also providing for a surviving spouse’s financial needs. They can also help limit the opportunity for probate and will contests at the death of a spouse. Trusts can be complicated to create and fund, and need the expertise of a Florida estate planning lawyer to operate the most successfully.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers on Florida estate planning. If you would like more information about how to get ahead on estate planning for blended families in 2020, we encourage you not to wait to contact our office. We are here to discuss your concerns and plan forward now, or any time throughout the year.