Yours, Mine & Ours – Tips on Successful Estate Planning with Blended Families

March 2017

If you’re remarried, you may face some interesting planning considerations when it comes to completing your estate plan. The planning for blended families can be quite different from the planning you did in your first marriage as there is now yours, mine and ours. The key to successful planning is open communication and a full understanding of each other’s goals.
Here are some tips so that the process goes smoothly:

  • Have a frank conversation. It may be difficult, but so critical. You need to determine what your respective goals are with regard to providing for each other, as well as children, whether biological or step.
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Regardless of net worth, prenuptial (pre-marriage) and postnuptial (during marriage) agreements are wonderful tools for detailing your obligations and wishes of how assets are split in the event of a death or divorce. See my post “Love is in the February Air” for more information.
  • Meet with a qualified estate planning attorney and spell out your wishes in writing. If you simply own all of your assets as joint tenants or name your spouse as primary beneficiary and you die first, these assets will be payable to your surviving spouse. What happens at the second death? The assets will distribute according to your surviving spouse’s wishes, which may or may not include your children. Luckily, there are many planning tools available to make sure you care for your surviving spouse and your children (a QTIP trust or earmarking certain assets to be paid directly to your children).

A thoughtful plan will consider all points of views – yours, your spouse’s and your respective children. I see marital bliss on the horizon!

This post was written by Karen Schlotthauer, an attorney in our Trusts & Estates practice group.