Every family has complicated dynamics. Our San Diego estate planning attorney realizes that blended families have an extra layer of complexity which must be addressed during the planning process. Be sure to disclose all family relationship issues to your estate planning attorney. He can only plan for those things he knows about.
Common issues include:
- Providing for a second spouse and children from a first marriage
- Keeping the peace and fostering relationships
- Avoiding the unintentional disinheritance of children from the first marriage
Bottom line advice from our San Diego estate planning attorney:
- Provide separate inheritances for a second spouse or partner and for children from a first marriage. It’s almost always a bad idea to name children from another marriage the contingent beneficiaries of an inheritance to your spouse. It may ruin the relationship.
- Always remember that money equals love, even though we all try to pretend otherwise. To avoid anger, resentment, and family discord, provide separately for your first and second family and generally don’t let anyone see the documents. Just let them know where to find them after your death.
John and Kate are in love and live together in San Diego. The couple lives in John’s house and Kate rents her house out for extra income. The couple came in for an estate planning consultation. They realized that because John had children, they had special blended family estate planning consultations.
- Should Kate have a life estate in John’s house after he dies?
- Should Kate have some period of time to stay in John’s house after he dies?
- When John dies, who gets the furniture and personal furnishings?
- Who would pay the mortgage, taxes, and maintenance?
- How would this affect Kate’s relationship with John’s children?
- What if Kate needs nursing home care at some point?
- What if Kate marries or has a new boyfriend after John’s death?
After counseling with our San Diego estate planning attorney, John and Kate decided to remember the bottom line: Money equals love and that it is in everyone’s best interest to provide separate inheritances for a second spouse or partner and children from another marriage.
John set up a trust with separate trust shares for Kate and his two children. They decided that Kate would stay in the home which will be owned by her trust. Therefore, the home and a pot of money to pay for the mortgage, taxes, insurances, and expenses would flow into Kate’s trust at John’s death. Kate will sell her home and use the equity to pay her other living expenses.
Because the house is in a trust created by John, it will be protected from potential creditors if Kate needs care. They decided that Kate entering another relationship after John dies wouldn’t affect their planning.
The rest of John’s assets will pass in individual trust shares to his two children. He bought a life insurance policy to make up the value of Kate’s inheritance to his children.
Be sure to consult our San Diego estate planning attorney for your blended family estate planning. Feel free to call us at (858) 792-5988 with any questions you may have.