Here is a situation that happens all too often to seniors and boomers who decide to remarry late in life:
Following their wedding, a couple who each have their own children and grandchildren do not create an estate plan. When the first spouse dies – in this case, let’s say the husband – any community property he has with his wife will pass directly to her. Or, in the event of separate property, it’s split 50/50 if there is one child, or if there is more than one child, one third will go to the new wife and two thirds to the kids.
This is according to the laws of intestacy, which determine how assets are distributed when there is no Last Will and Testament present. After a certain amount of time, the wife also passes away. This time, the assets and property – which includes whatever passed to her from her husband – will now pass to her children and grandchildren. Because there was no estate plan in place, the husband’s family has no legal claim to any of their father’s assets and inheritance.
A marriage late in life between two people with families can bring exciting new joys, but blending families can also bring about a fair share of challenges. Most married couples in blended families want to leave inheritances for their own children and grandchildren, as well as for their new spouses and sometimes even the spouses’ families. This can absolutely lead to complications and possibly resentment in even the most understanding families if proper planning is not carried out.
An Encino trust attorney who has experience planning for blended families can work to create an estate plan that addresses the needs of both spouses and their families. Will and trust attorneys will also advise blended families to create an estate plan as early as possible to ensure that each family member is left with an inheritance according to the couple’s wishes, which will help to avoid conflicts between the family members after the couple has passed away.
Couples with blended families can start planning right away by making some preliminary decisions. These include which family members they’re leaving an inheritance to, what property or assets they want to pass to specific family members, and even writing letters to family members to explain any decisions that were made concerning their estate plan.
If you would like to get more information about how you can begin the estate planning process for your blended family, or if you would like to have your current estate plan reviewed to make sure it properly handles your new family situation, please set up an appointment at our Los Angeles County estate and elder law office by calling (818) 905-6088.