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Three estate planning tips for blended families

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Three estate planning tips for blended families

It is not unusual for a person in Torrance to remarry later in life after a divorce or the death of a spouse. These unions can be emotionally fulfilling but they do present issues when it comes to estate planning, specifically if one or both spouses has adult children from a previous marriage. The following are three estate planning tips for blended families.

Ensure your beneficiary designations are up to date

Many assets, including life insurance policies, bank accounts and retirement accounts allow the account holder to name a beneficiary who will inherit these assets upon the account holder’s passing. If this is your second marriage, it is important to go back and review these beneficiary designations. You may want to ensure that these assets will pass on to your new spouse or your adult children. You can even name your children as secondary beneficiaries in the event that your new spouse passes away before you do.

Review your will

You may have executed a will years ago, but have you reviewed it recently? If you recently remarried, now is a good time to blow the dust off your will and ensure it reflects your current family situation. If there is bad blood between stepsiblings, you can include provisions in your will that your surviving spouse is not permitted to alter the terms of the will. This way you can ensure your children will still receive an inheritance. Remember, not all heirs have to be treated equally and you may have assets you want to go directly to your children rather than being equally split between your children and your stepchildren.

Consider gifting

Sometimes it is better to use gifting during your lifetime to pass on your assets, rather than waiting until you pass away. You are permitted to give up to $15,000 per heir without being subjected to the federal gift tax. And, even if you do gift more than $15,000 per person these gifts may still be tax-free if they do not go over the lifetime gift exclusion of $11.7 million per person. Moreover, gifting gives you the joy of seeing what your loved ones do with the money or assets you have set aside for them.

Learn more about estate planning

An estate plan is made more complicated when it comes to blended families, so it is important that you seek the help necessary to ensure your final wishes will be met. A do-it-yourself estate plan is often incomplete, vague or otherwise unenforceable. It is better to seek legal help if you need to create or modify an estate plan for your blended family. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on estate planning may be of interest to those who want to learn more about this topic.