estate planning checklist

If you don’t do this, your “blended” family will likely be taken to court.

If you don’t do this, your “blended” family will likely be taken to court.

If you don’t plan for your assets in the event, you become incapacitated or die, and you will undoubtedly cause hurt feelings and conflict.

Let’s clarify what a blended or unmarried family is and if you have one. A blended family includes stepchildren, children from an earlier marriage, or other persons you consider “kin” but are not legal relatives.

Bottom line: An estate plan is necessary if you have a blended family. Not just a will you create online or a trust poorly designed to protect your family from conflict and avoid going to court. Period. End of story. Unless you’re okay with causing your loved ones unnecessary pain, confusion, heartache, and suffering when it happens.

What will the law do?

“Blended Families” are fast becoming the norm, and they were once considered non-traditional families. Currently, 52% of married or unmarried couples living together have a step relationship. 4 out of 10 new marriages involve remarriage. This is not “non-traditional,” but it is still quite traditional. However, our laws regarding what to do if you die or become incapacitated are very traditional.

Each state has laws regarding what happens if you are incapacitated or die, and the laws in each state may differ from yours.

Colorado is an example of this. If you die before your spouse, the spouse will receive only a portion of your estate, even if there are living children or parents. Your living children or parents would get the remainder. Your spouse’s amount will depend on how many and old your children are.

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However, California’s law would give your spouse all community assets. Separate property assets would then be divided between the surviving spouse and children, and the amounts would depend on how many children are living.

It cannot be straightforward depending on whether your assets were separate or community and whether you have children or not from the marriage.

These examples are intended to demonstrate that what you say and do when you die may not be the best for your loved ones. This is especially true if you have a blended or multi-generational family.

Here’s how you can ensure things go as you wish: Call us to schedule a Family Wealth planning session. The session costs $750, but we’ll waive the fee if you do your homework beforehand (homework that will ensure your family has everything they need in case you are incapacitated). We’ll spend two hours getting acquainted with you and your family.

Even in traditional families (aka married parents with children), I believe that a comprehensive plan is essential to ensure the care of your loved ones. However, with “blended” families, it is even more critical to have a well-thought-out estate plan. This will avoid huge misunderstandings and conflict and ensure that your assets don’t end up in the wrong hands.

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