Blended families are becoming more common in Pennsylvania and across the country. A blended family is one where there is at least one parent and one stepchild. When it comes to estate planning, blended families are a little more challenging than a traditional nuclear family. It’s prudent to think through some possible sticking points before meeting with a professional to put something in writing.
Deciding who inherits
In a blended family, there are more relationships to think through when it comes to estate planning. For example, your ex isn’t just your ex. They are also the co-parent of some of your children. So in some cases, a trust that lets them manage funds until the children reach maturity will work for families.
In other cases, someone may decide to leave their whole estate to their children. They may decide to provide for stepchildren as well. Often, the way funds are distributed may depend on the length of the relationship and plans other parents have to provide for them.
It’s very common for people to simply leave their whole estate to their current partner. This can pose some risk for any children from prior relationships. It can be wise to put at least some funds into a trust for those children. While you trust your partner, having sole access to a large sum of money is tempting for anyone.
Finally, make sure to revisit your beneficiary designations after any major life event like a divorce or remarriage. If your insurance policy still designates your ex when you pass, that money will go to them and not your current partner.
In creating an estate plan, you should work with professionals including an attorney and a financial planner. They may be able to help you understand how to distribute your assets the way you want to in a streamlined fashion. Avoiding lengthy probate court proceedings and estate taxes, for example, is a huge gift to your loved ones at a difficult time.