Estate Planning Essentials for Blended Families

Estate Planning Essentials for Blended Families

backview of an old couple, estate planning attorneyWhen Illinoisans remarry, they should review their estate planning documents to ensure that their assets pass to their intended beneficiaries after they die. Couples who have remarried should discuss how they want their assets to be divided to provide for blended family members from all marriages. They should review and update their existing wills, trusts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and titles to make certain that their assets won’t be passed to ex-spouses. An estate planning attorney may assist clients with drafting new documents that accurately reflect substantial life changes like remarriage.

Reviewing Existing Estate Plans

When people remarry, it is important for them to review their existing wills, trusts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other accounts. Some people fail to update their old estate plans and other accounts after they get divorced. If their former spouses are the named beneficiaries of their wills, trusts, and other accounts, the ex-spouses may receive their assets when they die. Documents, accounts, and insurance policies should be updated to reflect couples’ new marital status. If spouses have children from their former marriages, they should also think about how they can ensure that all of their children will inherit their assets as intended once they pass away. When new spouses are named as sole beneficiaries on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other accounts, these spouses will not be legally required to share any assets with the children.

Drafting Wills and Trusts

People who want to make sure that their children from former marriages will receive the assets that they intend for them to have should make certain that their intentions are clearly spelled out in their wills and trusts. If they are concerned that they might predecease their spouses and that their spouses will not pass their assets on to their children, they might want to consider creating bypass trusts. These trusts provide income to surviving spouses but allow deceased spouses to maintain control of the assets so they can be passed to their children once their spouses also pass away. Communicating their intentions with their spouses can help to avoid family conflicts after they die.

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