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A second marriage can provide you with new opportunities and new joys. However, remarriage is also an important reason to update your estate plan, especially if you have children from prior relationships. What should you consider when creating an estate plan to provide for your blended family?
Consider how a trust might help you achieve your goals.
While a will acts as the foundation for most people’s estate plan, it may not be enough to support your family. For example, if you pass away before your spouse and want them to continue living in your home, you may leave them your house and its contents in your will. However, if they change their will after your death, you may unintentionally cut off your children from that portion of their inheritance. If you place those assets in trust, on the other hand, you may be able to provide for your spouse while protecting your children’s inheritance.
Address your beneficiaries’ relationships during the planning process.
Unfortunately, your loved ones may not get along as well as you would hope. During the estate planning process, consider the potential sources of conflict. For example, your children may not want family heirlooms to stay with your new spouse after you pass on. You may want to outline specific beneficiaries for these meaningful items and discuss these plans with your loved ones.
If you use a trust as part of your estate plan, you should also consider which person is best able to navigate your family situation. As Forbes notes, it can be important to choose a trustee who can navigate not only the financial complexities of trust management but also the complex relationships between beneficiaries. The right trustee will be able to find a balance between the wishes and needs of both your children from previous relationships and your new spouse.
Consider who can make decisions on your behalf.
If you become too ill to make decisions about your health or your finances, who can make those decisions? What happens if you allow your spouse to make major decisions about your care but your children disagree with those choices? Establishing power of attorney can provide someone with the ability to make choices for you, but you should carefully consider who you name in this document. Depending on your situation, may want to select one agent who can handle potential conflict between members of your family or to select multiple people to make decisions on your behalf.
By exploring all of your options with care, you can create an estate plan that protects your peace of mind as you begin life with your new spouse and provides for your blended family in the future.