Keeping the peace within a family is one of the greatest benefits of estate planning, likely more important than saving tax dollars. Blended families, those families with have children from previous relationships, have an extra challenge, in keeping the peace. Here are 3 ways to use estate planning to keep the peace in your blended family.
Let all of your children, as well as your spouse or partner, know that you love them and have provided for them in your estate plan. Let them know who’s in charge, when, and why. For example, if your spouse is going to make health care or financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated, let your family know ahead of time what to expect.
If you are doing anything “unusual” in your estate plan, such as giving children different inheritances, deal with it now; don’t leave them to grapple with hurt feelings after your death.
- Put it on the Record
All of your estate planning wishes must be documented in writing to be legally effective. Execute a comprehensive estate plan with the assistance of a qualified California estate planning attorney. If your estate plan is not in writing, state law and the courts will determine what your estate plan is, not you and not your family.
- Provide for Your Children Immediately
Don’t make your children from a previous relationship, wait until your second spouse or partner dies to inherit. A delay causes life-long resentment and competing interests.
If there are not enough assets to go around, consider purchasing life insurance. If you are uninsurable or the insurance is unaffordable, be sure to provide for those who are financial dependent upon you during your lifetime and discuss the matter with all loved ones.
Whether you are passing financial assets or not, provide a special personal possession or family heirloom to each loved one, along with a love letter telling them how you feel. These are cherished inheritances and a clear indication of your love; that’s the true purpose of estate planning for blended families.
Legacy APC, A Trusts & Estates Law Firm is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.