November 26, 2019

The challenge of estate planning with blended families

In estate planning, a question raised by many couples with a blended family, is what to do if one dies before the other and what each of their children (from previous marriages) can inherit. The goal is often how to ensure their wishes are followed if they die first, how to protect their beneficiaries, how to support the living spouse, and finally, how to minimize taxes. This situation can sometimes be further complicated by the estate planning process, which may not address all these areas. By getting separate lawyers and the right advice, then you can ensure your estate planning concerns are properly addressed.

Key Takeaways:

  • Wills are not contracts or estate plans. Some lawyers make wills based on your instructions, and this may satisfy your wishes but not be tax efficient.
  • An estate plan can include life insurance, registered investment plans, and pension benefits, which may be designated or jointly owned, and would not be controlled by your will or executor.
  • If a couple uses the same lawyer, then this lawyer cannot take sides in any discussion of your estate plan, and this may prevent your lawyer from commenting on changes to your proposed distribution.

“Planning for blended families is challenging. If you do not meet your spousal support obligations, expect your estate to wind up in court.”

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