In today’s society, the conventional family model has increasingly evolved into blended families, where at least one parent has children who are not biologically related to their spouse. A blended family, or stepfamily, is formed when two individuals bring a child or children from a previous relationship. When a blended family is formed, various critical decisions must be considered, including how parents can ensure their new family members are cared for if anything happens, such as incapacitation or death. If you have a blended family, you should consider enlisting the help of a skilled Montgomery County Estate Planning Attorney who can help you build a concrete estate plan to help you ensure your loved ones can avoid probate court and any legal issues in the future.
What are the best estate planning options for blended families in Maryland?
Blended families have a unique family structure, but their estate planning process is not fundamentally different from those under a traditional family structure. However, the complexity of the process increases as there are usually more individuals to consider. You and your spouse must discuss how each child will be accounted for, mainly if children from previous marriages are involved, to prevent any potential unfair treatment or disagreements.
The first thing you should consider while estate planning is a family trust. Blended families should consider establishing a Trust to ensure each child receives a fair inheritance if one spouse dies before the other. A family trust would place both parties’ assets into the Trust. Following the first spouse’s death, the surviving spouse would determine how to distribute assets to each child based on their needs. In addition to a family trust, you may consider establishing a marital trust. A martial trust would allow you to transfer your assets to your surviving spouse following your death while earmarking any residual assets for the children.
Moreover, if you have a blended family, you may consider an outright ownership structure during estate planning. This structure would allow you to transfer your assets to your surviving spouse without using a Trust for your children. Instead, with this structure, you would entrust the surviving spouse to make a suitable arrangement to account for the children properly. Another option that has its benefits is considering immediate bequests. An immediate bequest means you do not have an established Trust but leave assets to each child through your will. This is often the best route if you want your child to inherit your hard-earned assets directly. However, it would be best if you spoke to your spouse about stipulating an immediate bequest in your will.
As you can see, the estate planning process for blended families is not significantly different from that for traditional families. There are more people to take into account. If you’re considering establishing an estate plan, please don’t hesitate to contact a dedicated attorney from the legal team at JD Katz, who can help you make the right choices for your future.