Specific Estate Planning Concerns for Blended Families in NJ

Certain Aspects of Estate Planning for Blended Families Require Special Attention to Avoid Affecting Any Of the Family Members

Estate Planning Challenges for Today's Blended Families in Ocean County, NJBlended families are now a commonality in New Jersey. A family is considered blended when at least one of the spouses has children from a previous marriage or relationship. Often, when the couple gets married while the child or children are still young, the spouses help raise their partners’ children. In other cases, the children of new spouses are grown when the couple gets married. In either case, blended families can be a boon or bust for relationships, and they certainly make estate planning more complex and problem-ridden. If you are wondering how to create a comprehensive estate plan that includes both your spouse and your children from a previous marriage, you need the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Contact us today to begin discussing your estate planning needs with a knowledgeable lawyer at Bronzino Law Firm, and read on to learn more about the unique complexities involving blended family estate planning.

Main Challenges Blended Families Face with Estate Planning in NJ

One of the primary challenges those creating an estate plan for blended families face is the desire to make sure both spouse and children from the previous marriage are provided for, without knowing how best to navigate that. While there are many strategies to develop an estate plan for blended families, and many of them work as they were designed to, they are often laden with issues that could short one or more loved ones.

Ensuring Comprehensive Estate Plan Solutions for Blended Families

In trying to create an estate plan that provides both for spouse and children, one mistake people often make is that they leave part of their family, usually their children, vulnerable to receiving less than expected or nothing at all. One such example of this is the case in which a person leaves a retirement, life insurance, or other account with a named beneficiary to their spouse as the primary beneficiary and their children as a secondary beneficiary. The intention and theory behind this is that the spouse will have access to all or a portion of those funds upon the person’s death, and then their children will benefit from the remainder upon the death of the spouse. Unfortunately, the spouse can manipulate these assets in all sorts of ways, including rolling over an IRA and naming new beneficiaries or withdrawing all funds and paying associated taxes, leaving the children with nothing.

Another mistake people often make is that they assume that by leaving half of their assets to their spouse and half of their assets to their children, both beneficiaries will receive equal amounts. Though the person’s last will and testament may simplify their desires to this extent, named beneficiaries on accounts trump what is in the will, and marital assets are always subject to equitable distribution with the spouse, muddying the ‘half-and-half’ ideal.

Using Different Types of Trusts to Avoid Involuntary Mistakes

One important way to prevent errors or a spouse disinheriting your children is to separate assets into trusts or separate accounts. For example, you could split your retirement account into two, leaving one to your spouse and one to your children. Or, you could leave the majority of assets to your spouse and the bulk of your IRAs and life insurance to your children.

A joint trust is a way to ensure that the spouse and all descendants from both sides receive their fair share. Joint trusts are customizable and fluid until one partner dies; then it becomes irrevocable. So in estate planning, the trust could provide that each descendent receive a percentage of the remaining funds when the surviving spouse dies.

Avoid Making Mistakes When Dealing with Estate Planning Issues in a Blended Family in Freehold NJCrucial Relevance of Drafting a Living Will in NJ

A living will is important because it provides for your medical and other decisions to be taken care of by a trusted power of attorney if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. In blended families, it is wise to consider a neutral power of attorney who can supersede as well as smooth over tensions between your current spouse and children from previous marriages. Such a power of attorney would ensure that decisions are made in alignment with your desires and not personal ones.

Smart Advice: Keep an Up-to-Date Estate Plan

Things change. Relationships, assets, and plans are all subject to the passage of time. Loved ones, including spouses, pass on, inheritances are earned, and jobs and endowments fluctuate. Your estate plan is your up-to-date record of what you have and to whom you want its intricate elements passed. As such, it must be revised as often as changes to your estate occur.

Contact Our Estate Planning Lawyers in Brick & Sea Girt, NJ, to Get Your Free Consultation

The invaluable counsel of an estate planning attorney lies in the ability to help you get a clear picture of your estate and troubleshoot any potential holes that your current plan contains. Our team at Bronzino Law Firm has worked with countless clients who need to construct rock solid estate plans for their blended families in Brick, Colts Neck, Tinton Falls, Oceanport, Red Bank, Sea Bright, Eatontown, Manchester, Rumson, Little Silver, Lakewood, and other Ocean and Monmouth County towns. Our lawyers will show you the risks associated with different set-ups, including all of the potentialities associated with them, for better and worse. Our goal is to create a solid estate plan that ensures all of your loved ones are taken care of exactly as you envision. Contact us today at (732) 812-3102 to set up a complimentary one-on-one to get started.