Blended families are quite common in the U.S.
A married couple may have a small child—but one or both spouses may also have children from a prior relationship, and they may be concerned about assets and protecting those older children in estate planning.
A spouse on a second or third marriage may insist on a prenup with the other spouse relinquishing any rights. As compensation, many spouses will purchase life insurance with the other spouse as beneficiary. However, what if this plan never comes to fruition?
Nj.com’s recent article entitled “My husband won’t make an estate plan. What can I do?” says that many spouses want to provide for children from a first marriage. However, second marriages can get messy when it comes to estate plans.
Even if the spouse doesn’t help, there are steps a recently married individual can take. One thing is having estate documents prepared by an experienced wills, trusts and estate attorney.
Another is to secure life insurance policies that designate the child or children of the second marriage as beneficiary and naming their mother or father as trustee.
A life insurance policy is a non-probate asset; as such, a beneficiary can receive the proceeds from the policy more quickly than if they had to wait for your estate to be settled through a probate court.
A person in this situation should speak with an experienced life insurance agent and a trusted estate planning attorney to ensure an appropriate child guardianship plan and will is in place.
A will provides direction for what happens after a person dies and can distribute his or her property to their loved ones, name an executor to handle their affairs, name a guardian for any minor children and specifically state a person’s wishes for family and friends.
It may also be beneficial to look into a trust or other estate planning tools with an attorney to distribute the assets. Exploring these options early in the child’s life in the above example may make a parent feel more prepared for the future, and more secure with the circumstances of the second marriage.
If the spouse tells the other that he or she has an appointment with an estate planning attorney, they just might decide to attend.