Wills and Estate Planning: Understanding the Best Solutions for Blended Families

Estate planning and making wills can be a complicated process for individuals with blended families. In general, you should understand some critical things when making your will before or after remarriage. Your old document will be cancelled by the union unless it was written with the marriage in mind. Divorce does not invalidate wills. However, the ex-spouse will not receive the gifts outlined, and they cannot act as the executors of the will.

Still, the most significant challenge in estate planning for blended families involves the children. If you and your spouse have kids from previous relationships, you will be concerned about their wellbeing. In ideal circumstances, it is possible for a couple to divide the wealth equally among all the existing children. However, the surviving spouse can make changes later. If you are concerned about this issue, here are the best solutions to consider for your blended family.

Direct Gifting

Couples with significantly large estates should consider leaving direct gifts to their children. This solution is convenient and straightforward, and it prevents a lot of conflict after death. Ideally, you and your spouse would each make a will which makes provision for the children from previous relationships. For example, you can provide gifts of money to your kids and leave your surviving spouse the house and other assets. If you would like to use this solution, you should make sure that you have sufficient property for the division.

Mutual Wills Contract

You can choose to make mutual wills with your spouse. This solution is also beneficial for handling estate planning for blended families. Ideally, when you elect this method, you and your spouse will execute a will which outlines the benefits you would like your children, including those from previous relationships, to receive. Then, you will enter a contract in which you will agree not to revoke or change the will without the permission of the other party. You can also include a provision which prevents the spouse from unduly dissipating the assets.

Testamentary Trust

Finally, you can establish a testamentary discretionary trust. This solution refers to the creation of a will in which trust funds are set up. In simple terms, a parcel of financial assets will be deposited into the trust, and a trustee will be appointed and held responsible for making payments to the beneficiary. Typically, the primary beneficiaries are the primary beneficiaries and the spouse a general beneficiary. However, you can tailor the document to include or exclude specific individuals.

For more information, contact a local family lawyer.