ARTICLE: Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Some people who lose a spouse due to death or divorce are fortunate enough to go on to find love again and remarry. In many instances, second marriages unite not only two people but also their children and extended families. While blending families is often a joyous experience, it can create challenges when it comes to estate planning. As such, it is smart for anyone in a second marriage to speak to an experienced Corning estate planning lawyer to discuss their options for protecting their assets and ensuring their final wishes are upheld. 

Estate Planning For Blended Families

People who remarry should evaluate their estate plan as soon as possible. While it is not romantic, it is practical, as the failure to address their changing needs and objectives will most likely lead to issues in the future. 

First, if a person with children remarries, they should evaluate whether they want to modify their will. In some instances, they may want to provide for their new spouse in their will, while in others, they may want to expressly exclude them and ensure that their entire estate passes on to their children. They may wish to include their stepchildren in their will as well. Regardless of what decisions a person modifying or drafting a will makes, they should make sure that the provisions expressing their wishes are clear to avoid any confusion or ambiguity. Similarly, if they have life insurance policies, they should determine who the beneficiaries are and what changes, if any, they should make. 

There are many types of trusts that people in blended families can employ to protect their assets and their children’s rights. For example, a person may be able to create a testamentary trust that provides for their spouse for the duration of their lives but passes the remainder of their assets on to their children after their spouse’s death, ensuring that both the spouse and the children are taken care of when they are gone. 

In addition to evaluating estate planning tools that provide gifts and benefits, it is prudent for people in second marriages to determine whether they should modify any existing advanced directives or documents designating a healthcare agent or granting someone power of attorney. Generally, a person’s spouse has the right to make decisions on their behalf if they become mentally or physically incapacitated. In cases involving a second marriage, people may want to grant such rights to their children rather than their new spouse or expressly state that they want their new spouse to act on their behalf. Clearly defining such rights can avoid discord and potential litigation in the future. 

Meet With a Skillful Corning Estate Planning Attorney 

Blended families are increasingly common in New York, and while there are many benefits to marrying for a second time, it often requires special consideration when it comes to estate planning. If you need to develop or reevaluate your will or other estate planning documents, it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful estate planning lawyer to evaluate your options. 

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We at Roth Elder Law, PLLC, believe in providing services in a way that clients can easily understand and meaningfully participate in designing and maintaining their estate plan for their loved ones, as well as be assured that their plan will be administered according to their wishes.