Blended families and the importance of estate planning

As Florida residents may be aware, blending two families may come with its own financial considerations in order to provide not only for the new spouse in the future, but also to protect the children of both. Unfortunately, making new arrangements for this protection may be overlooked and have consequences should something happen to one spouse unexpectedly.

Starting a blended family with a new spouse and children brings with it new responsibilities with regard to estate planning. In many instances, not attending to changes in estate planning may create unintended problems. For instance, a man who remarries but has left his beneficiaries unchanged with regard to inheritance, pension benefits or insurance policies may be leaving the widowed second spouse and children in a difficult position. In some instances, after an ex-spouse has inherited as a beneficiary of the deceased individual, the new wife may discover that she not only does not inherit from her husband but may be liable for the tax burden from the ex-spouse's gain.

In a new marriage, how partners will share paying expenses and taxes is also a consideration that may be best approached before the marriage ceremony. In some instances, it may be better to keep accounts separate, particularly if one or both partners owes money for car payments or for credit card debt. Reviewing and updating wills and trusts with an eye to the future and protection for both the other spouse and children is an important consideration.

Those individuals contemplating a new marriage that will create a blended family may benefit from consultation with an attorney in advance. An attorney may advise on how to plan for the addition of new family members and assist in updating wills and revocable trusts to reflect these new changes.

Source: Daily Finance, "Blended-Family Finance: Tips Every Modern 'Brady Bunch' Should Consider", Michelle Lerner, Nov. 5, 2013

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