Blending families isn’t easy. Finding the right partner after your last attempt didn’t go so well is a blessing, but it also comes with a unique set of difficulties:

 

  • Are your kids as happy as you are with your new spouse?
  • Are your spouse’s kids as excited to have you in their lives as your partner?
  • Is there an age difference that could affect the use of your marital and separate property assets that might have an impact on yours or your step-children’s inheritance?
  • How will those assets be divided when one of you passes away? Equally between all of your kids?  Your half to your kids, and your spouse’s half to theirs?
  • Do you trust your spouse not to remarry and spend down everything you had ear marked to leave to your children on your passing?
  • Who will make the final call as to your medical needs if and when you aren’t able to?  Your new spouse, that perhaps your adult children aren’t so fond of?

 

In a perfect world, everyone gets along. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and these questions can be daunting, overwhelming, and stressful on you, your spouse, and your families.

 

You’ve spent your life planning for your future; the last thing you want is for your new marriage to jeopardize what you had intended on being there to care for you, and your kids, once you’re not able to anymore.

 

There are many ways to ensure that each of your respective families are cared for upon your death, even when your spouse is still living. Proper estate planning and the use of premarital agreements can ensure that your kids are left something upon your death, while at the same time leaving part of your estate to your surviving spouse to maintain their accustomed standard of living.

Speak with your financial planner, an estate planning attorney — but most importantly, your spouse — to clarify expectations and desires regarding the distribution of assets on your death. Try to come to an agreement, and set that agreement in stone by creating an estate plan that reflects your wishes. If you and your spouse can’t agree, you always have the option of creating your own individual estate plan with respect to your separate property and your half of your marital community property.

Paramount is the health of your new blended family moving forward — getting past the prickly issues of what happens when you’re gone before you actually are can avoid unnecessary rifts between your spouse and your kids now and in the future.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristin Capritto is an attorney with FORESTER PURCELL STOWELL PC, based in Folsom, California. She can be reached at info@foresterpurcell.com or 916 293 4000. This information is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.

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