Florida Estate Planning for Blended Families
The blended family is becoming a more common situation as people remarry and have spouses with children from prior relationships. This can be slightly more complex when it comes to estate planning. If you have a blended family, you may find it beneficial to speak with a knowledgeable West Palm Beach estate planning attorney who has experience with these types of estate planning situations.
Effects of a Prior Divorce
In situations where a blended family may include a recent divorce by one or both spouses, there are some issues you need to consider. Each person needs to take inventory of all accounts, which includes items like bank accounts and brokerage accounts. You also need to complete whatever else is necessary to transfer any other asset ownership out of your ex’s name, like vehicles, real estate, recreational vehicles, etc. You also need to update beneficiaries on all insurance policies.
If you already have an estate plan in place, a divorce should be the trigger to review and update it. Is your ex listed in any fiduciary role in your plan? This might be something like a healthcare proxy or power of attorney. You will want to update this information to someone else you trust, or your new spouse if you are now remarried. Is your ex listed in your will? That is another item you will want to update and remove them from. If your ex was the personal representative of your estate, that role should be reassigned to someone else as well.
Why Estate Plans are Important for Blended Families
When you have a blended family, you have to take special steps to ensure everyone is taken care of and addressed as you wish in your estate plan. This is especially important if you have children from a prior relationship. You may want to leave different assets to your children (biological), but you also want your stepchildren to have a portion of your estate as well. Without any estate plan, you may run into problems in situations like a new spouse receiving your estate even though you were only married a short time, a child not receiving an asset you promised them, etc.
You may want to consider a prenuptial agreement with a subsequent marriage. This will help ensure blended families are addressed from the start. This tool will also allow you to designate which assets both spouses want to pass to their respective children in the event of a death. They can also agree that some assets will not be treated as marital property and subject to division at death or in the event of a divorce.
Beneficiary designations are a very crucial aspect for blended families. These apply to assets that would pass outside of probate. Beneficiary designations are especially important if one spouse passes away unexpectedly and the other spouse needs access to funds immediately to help support the children. Beneficiary designations will take priority over something listed in a will as well, which is why it’s so important to update your designations regularly.
Contact a Florida Estate Planning Attorney
If you need assistance with starting or updating your estate plan, contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.