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Questions to Ask When Creating an Estate Plan for Blended Families in Alexandria

Whether you have divorced, remarried or widowed, you need to pay extra attention to your estate plan.

According to statistics by Pew Research, a full 42% of all American Adults are in some “step” relationship. This means that you or someone you know is most likely one of these 95.5 million people who are part of a blended family.

Estate planning for these millions of divorced, remarried or widowed Americans is available and essential to a secure financial future. It is also especially tricky; with the sheer amount of ways, such a plan can go wrong. The stakes are also much higher if you hope that your estate is left to a current spouse and family as opposed to a former spouse.

Furthermore, spouses and families, current and former, are not always able to come to an amicable agreement on important issues. For example, who will take care of any children in the event of a family death. The fair division of assets is another fundamental issue that can be problematic if not specified beforehand.

Taking all these pointers into consideration beforehand will not only avoid any disputes over the estate plan but can also prevent any enmity between surviving family members.

To begin, you should look over the following questions.

  • How would you like your assets handled upon your death?
  • Who would you like to make decisions in your place, if you are unable to make them for yourself?
  • Who will take care of your children?
  • Who would you like to assume guardianship of any under-aged children, a current spouse, the natural parent or an ex? Will the kids get to weigh in on this decision?
  • What will happen to the surviving spouse?
  • How would you like to provide for a surviving family?
  • Would you like your surviving family to have a significant amount of decision-making power over your estate plan or very limited?
  • How flexible will you be in a conversation between your attorney, current spouse and your former spouse?
  • Are you currently sharing a community property state or living in separate locations in Alexandria? (Both spouses are considered owners in a community property state and have rights to all assets. Names that appear on specific assets, like a mortgage, are sole owners in the separate property state. Still, your spouse may have a fair claim to some portion of the assets.

When you are ready to contemplate all these matters, take the time to consider the wealth and age differences between you and all spouses past present or future. If you plan on remarrying, will you want to take out a prenuptial agreement? If there’s an age difference, who do you think will survive the other?

Once you have an idea of what you think should happen in the case of your untimely demise, you should discuss your plans with a qualified estate planning lawyer who can formalize them and add some legal structure. This service is not possible from free online services due to the various complexities of working with blended families.

king the time to set in order a solid estate plan in Alexandria may be a costly project, but it is also a good deal when you consider the many benefits. Planning ahead not only ensures the prosperity of your family that survives you but can also give structure to the division of your assets and legacy when you have gone.

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Misha Gill is an Alexandria estate planning attorney for his firm, Speedwell Law, PLLC. If you would like assistance in setting up your own will, living trust, and other estate planning documents, Misha can be reached at (703) 553-2577 or mgill@speedwelllaw.com.

This post, including any of its contents or links, is not intended to provide you with legal advice. It provides personal perspectives on legal news and developments. Reading this post, leaving a comment, or communicating with its author by email or over the Internet does not create any attorney-client relationship.