If you recently got married and your new spouse has children, you may be in the process of updating certain documents, including your estate plan. The laws can be anti-intuitive when it comes to determining what you are required to do in order for your intended heirs to receive your assets after you pass away. If your newly expanded family includes step-children who you would like to include in your estate planning, give us a call. An estate planning lawyer from our firm can sit down with you and make sure your estate plan reflects your true intentions. Your attorney will make sure that your final wishes are made clear. In the meantime, below is some information about estate planning as it affects blended families.
The Division and Distribution of Your Assets
Depending on the types of assets you have, you may wish to divide some of them differently among your biological and your step-children. For instance, you may wish to divide liquidated assets evenly, but save family heirloom jewelry for your biological children for themselves or to pass on to their children. You can do this by specifying who should receive what and how much. Your estate planning attorney can help you with this by amending your existing plan or establishing one such as a will or trust. He or she can also help you specify when each heir should receive their assets. If there are minor children involved, you may want them to wait until a certain age before they can receive their inheritance.
Specifying Your Beneficiaries in Your Will or Trust
Not everyone realizes that when they write a will or create a trust that by saying, “all my children” this can create confusion after their passing. Was the person referring to their biological as well as step-children, or only their biological children? If the will is contested and taken to court, a judge may rule that the step-children are not included in that phrase. Rather than risk a misinterpretation, it is best to specify exactly which beneficiaries should receive which of your assets. When your estate plan is overseen by a legal professional such as an estate planning lawyer, he or she can offer an objective eye to help make sure there is no room for confusion after the fact.
Talk to a Legal Professional
Quite simply, the laws are not always clear for the layperson and this includes estate planning. An estate planning lawyer can make sure that your will or trust is not left up to interpretation by the court. We can help you make your final wishes known to those you left behind and who you want to inherit your precious possessions and assets after you’re gone. Call today for a free consult with an estate attorney who can provide you with the information you need to take your next steps.