Considerations for a Blended Family

Considerations for a Blended Family

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR ESTATE PLAN

BLENDED FAMILY

Please note that these questions can be emotionally challenging…in providing these to you in advance, we simply want you to think about your thoughts on these issues, but please know that there is ALWAYS a creative solution to accomplish the goals of both of you!!  If you simply cannot discuss these issues ahead of time, please know that our attorneys are skilled at helping you to explore these issues …. our goal is to bless and support your marriage and the complexities within it – not to make you life more difficult!!

  • Who you want to handle your financial affairs if you cannot (trustee) – we need first and second choice, and their names, addresses and phone number
  • Who do you want to raise your minor children (guardian) – we need first and second choice, and their names, addresses and phone number.  If you have children from previous relationships, you may each have different sets of guardians for your kids – depending on the dynamic/circumstances.
  • When one of you dies first, does that spouse want anything to be distributed immediately to their own children?
  • How are you going to treat the home?
    • If it goes to the spouse, does the spouse receive it outright?
    • Or, do you want the spouse to simply have a right to occupy the home during his/her lifetime?
    • If the spouse sells or remarries or moves out, do the proceeds from the home get split with the kids?
    • While the spouse lives in the home, who pays the mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance and repairs?
  • On the second death, who do you want to inherit everything when you die?  You can list names and percentages, or distribute it all equally, etc.
    • Sometimes you both may think “equally” to kids (or whomever you want to inherit) – but if you do not have equal numbers of children, one spouse may say “equally to all 7 of our kids” and the other may say “equally – ½ to my kids and ½ to your kids” – and there are many other variations depending on your family dynamic and circumstances
    • If you two did not come into the marriage equally on a financial basis, you may decide that whatever comprises Husband’s share of the estate goes where he wants, and whatever comprises Wife’s share of the estate goes where she wants.
    • Sometimes we have couples decide that it may be a good idea to have separate trusts to cover the property they each had before marriage, and then have a joint trust to cover all the assets they have together and will acquire together in the future.
  • Do you want the people who inherit to inherit outright, or do you want the money doled out to them over time?  If so, at what ages or stages to do you want them to inherit (for example, the money is held in trust for their health or educational needs, then they get 1/3 of what’s left when they are 25, ½ the remainder at 30 and the balance at 35 – or some variation)
  • What if the person(s) you named above die before you?  Do their kids inherit?  If so, at what ages or stages to do you want them to inherit (for example, the money is held in trust for their health or educational needs, then they get 1/3 of what’s left when they are 25, ½ the remainder at 30 and the balance at 35)
  • What if you and your immediate family all die together (no children, no grandchildren left) – then who inherits.  You can list friends, charities, parents, siblings, whatever you want.  If you are married and cannot agree, then ½ can be distributed pursuant to the husband’s wishes, and ½ can be distributed pursuant to the wife’s wishes.  You can give us a list of 40 different people/entities to inherit, all with varying percentages…
  • Who do you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot?  We need first and second choice
  • Do you want to donate organs for transplant, science or research?
  • Do you want to be buried or cremated?  If buried, where?  If cremated, what do you want done with your ashes?