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Key points to consider in estate planning for blended families

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | ESTATE PLANNING - Estate Administration & Probate

Estate planning can be a complex process, and when it comes to blended families like yours, you should have a plan that reflects your unique family dynamics. 

Unlike other families, you may have additional considerations to ensure your loved ones are cared for after you are gone, including your relationships with children, stepchildren and former partners. Because of this, it can be wise to consider the following aspects of using an estate plan to avoid potential conflicts and provide a smooth transition of assets. 

Communication is key

Open communication between spouses and children (depending on their ages) is crucial. Discuss your wishes, concerns, and family history openly to understand everyones needs and manage their expectations.

Wills vs. trusts

Having a will is crucial for any adult, but your will can be especially valuable as part of a blended family. Under the inheritance laws in Georgia, stepchildren have no legal right to an inheritance from a stepparent unless the stepparent adopts the child. On the other hand, half-siblings have the same inheritance rights as full siblings. Thus, if you do not have a will, gifts to children may not look how you want them to look. 

Trusts can also be valuable because they offer more flexibility. Trusts can ensure assets are distributed according to your wishes, even if your spouse remarries. Thus, having both a will and trust can be a good idea.

Spousal protection

Having an estate plan ensures spousal protection when it comes to your assets. With a solid estate plan, no one other than the intended beneficiary can claim your property or make important decisions related to your estate or assets. 

Minor children

Appoint a guardian who will care for minor children if both parents are gone. Choose someone compatible with your values and one wherein the biological and the stepparents agree on. 

Beneficiary designations

Review beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets. Update them to reflect your current family structure.

Putting it all together

Taking all these aspects into consideration when making an estate plan for a blended family can be crucial. When you take the time now to prepare for the future and establish your wishes, you can make complicated aspects like inheritance and decision-making easier on the people you love in the future.