Many blended families exist throughout the country — on your block, your street and your community thanks to remarriages and restarts. And like any family, they, too, must understand the importance of estate planning.
However, blended families may have to do some additional work to ensure few complications in their estate plans. It can be done with some ease as long as the right approach is taken. A big factor includes updating your estate plan.
Granted, there may be challenges and many questions that you need to answer. But you want to assemble a fair estate plan that addresses those concerns, especially regarding beneficiaries that may include your children, new spouse and stepchildren.
Here are some critical steps to implement:
- Change your will: Whenever a life change such as a remarriage occurs, you need to update your will to leave specific assets to your spouse and children.
- Update your list of beneficiaries: Do not neglect your new spouse in your will. There have been situations in which a person failed to update his or her will, which left assets to the former spouse while leaving nothing to the current spouse. That beneficiary list also may include your stepchildren. If you adopted them, make sure they are beneficiaries.
- Make a firm decision on your health care power of attorney: This person will make health care decisions for you. Do you want it to be your current spouse or one of your children? Failing to name or update your health care power of attorney can lead to serious disputes and fighting among the members of your blended family.
- Provide monetary gifts to your loved ones while still alive: As of this year, individuals may provide gifts of up to $16,000 without any tax or reporting requirements. This is a generous gesture, and your children will more than appreciate it.
Think these things through. You are the one who has made these decisions, which will provide some comfort and peace of mind to members of your family.
For any family, having an estate plan is important. A spouse from a blended family must be extra vigilant. Take careful consideration and make sure to let your family know of your intentions.