Planning for a Blended Family

Aler Stallings

If you are a part of a blended family, you have unique estate planning challenges. If you have had multiple marriages, or if you have a blended family of any sort, there are some serious questions you need to work through to avoid future estate planning troubles.

Special Questions for Blended Families

  • Who will provide for your children? Your spouse or someone else?
  • Who will take over as guardian for minor children when you die — your surviving spouse or the surviving biological parent?
  • What are you going to provide for your surviving spouse?
  • Do you want to give broad decision-making authority or would you rather limit it?
  • Do you and your present and/or former spouse have shared goals?


Choosing Helpers

If you pass away, your child’s other parent will typically get full custody. If you and your previous partner are estranged, or you want your child to remain with your current spouse, you’ll need to make that clear in your legal documents. You also need to decide who will manage your assets for those you’re leaving behind. You likely don’t want your previous partner to manage your assets, but you need to designate someone and create a plan to do so, since children cannot own property. This designated person must be able to maintain and manage this money in a responsible way until your child reaches adulthood. Regardless of the difficulty picking that person, it needs to be clearly designated.

Dividing Assets Among Spouse and Children

Planning for children and step-children requires language to be crystal clear. Otherwise, it could lead to expensive conflict. Failing to clarify your intentions can lead to unintended consequences, such as your estate going to step-children, even if that wasn’t your desire. To further complicate matters, if your spouse passes away shortly after you, the assets you expected your spouse to share with your children, could go to your step-children, leaving your children with nothing.

AlerStallings understands that planning for blended families can be complicated with many issues to consider. We have extensive experience with this type of planning, and we keep up with changes in income, gift, and estate taxes. Creating a family trust must be done carefully. You want to create the correct type of trust and move the right assets into it. The AlerStallings team of experienced attorneys can help you in this matter. Call us today to set up a consultation.