Blended families are those in which one or both parties to a marriage have children from a previous marriage or relationship. While these situations are quite common in modern society, they nonetheless present certain estate planning issues of which people in blended families should be aware.
Your Will May be Superseded by Certain Arrangements
Many people in blended families execute a will that they believe will ensure that their assets are distributed among their family members the way they would like. It is important to understand that there are certain types of ownership or designations that can override the terms of your will. These include the following:
- Insurance policy beneficiary designations
- Joint ownership of property
- Contractual agreements with regard to business interests
- Beneficiary deeds
- Retirement account beneficiary designations
In many cases, the assets described above make up a significant portion of a person’s estate. As a result, without careful planning, the use of a simple will may result in a distribution of your estate that is significantly different than what you would have intended.
Separate Property Will Generally Remain Separate
Consider a situation when two people who already have children marry and one brings significant assets into the marriage. In the absence of commingling of property or an agreement to the contrary, property brought into the marriage remains separate property, which means that the other spouse (and his or her children) will have no interest in the property.
For some people, this is the result that they want. Others, however, would like to ensure that their spouse and step-children have rights in the property. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including the execution of a will, the creation of a trust, and the adoption of non-biological children. The solution that works in your situation will depend upon a variety of factors, including the nature of your property, the size of your estate, and your specific goals.
Call 732 238-8686 today for more information.
If you are in a blended family and want to make sure that your assets are handled according to your wishes when you pass away, you should speak to an attorney immediately. Consulting with a lawyer will ensure that you have a comprehensive and enforceable estate plan that fits your needs. To schedule a consultation with one of our New Jersey estate planning lawyers, call Bowne Barry & Barry today at 732 238-8686 or contact us online.