You know the story. There’s a lovely lady bringing up three very lovely girls. Then she met a guy named Mike Brady who was busy with three boys of his own. They get married and have an amazing life. While The Brady Bunch made for iconic television, in real life they could have ended up in court fighting over assets if they didn’t have an estate plan for their blended family.
If Mike had died with a will that left everything to Carol, she could do whatever she wanted with the assets. Knowing Carol, she would have done the right thing and given Mike’s sons their fair share but she is under no legal obligation to do so. And neither are your relatives.
Even if the family has discussed who receives assets in the event of the death of one or both spouses, it has to be in writing.
As you’re thinking about your estate plan, ask yourself:
- Who do you want to control your assets?
- How (and to whom) do you want assets distributed?
- Who will provide for your minor children and act as guardian?
- How much decision making power do you want to leave to your surviving spouse?
Rather than leaving everything to one spouse, consider an alternative like establishing a trust to protect your assets.
Leave all assets to your children
This isn’t an ideal choice for two reasons. The first is that if your children are minors, someone else is named by the court to control their assets until they are of age. This is likely going to be their surviving biological parent. The second reason is that you’re leaving the surviving spouse, and any of their children, without assets.
Establish a Marital Trust
Upon the death of one spouse, this trust protects the inheritance of the deceased spouse’s children while still giving the surviving spouse an inheritance. In other words, Greg, Peter, and Bobby are taken care of financially along with Carol and the girls. As is the case with leaving the children all assets, if the children of the deceased spouse are minors, someone, likely their surviving biological parent, will control their assets.
Create a Revocable Living Trust
This prevents an ex-spouse from gaining control of the assets of minor children by naming a trustee for the estate. The trustee manages the trust on behalf of all beneficiaries, including minor children.
Utilize life insurance
Use life insurance an estate planning tool so your new spouse and all children have assets in the event of your death.
Life isn’t as sweet as The Brady Bunch which is why you need an estate plan for your blended family.
Estate planning protects your family and provides peace of mind. Not only is your family taken care of financially, you alleviate the stress of wondering about the wishes of the deceased loved one.
Engaging with an attorney to protect your family is never an easy step. Whether you need to protect your family from the unthinkable or restructure your family through collaborative divorce, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation with Michelle Ogborne, please visit the scheduling page to get started.