Estate planning can be hard for blended Maryland families. There are a lot of extra steps that residents have to go through to ensure that their new stepfamily is taken care of. There are also a lot of questions to consider when it comes to the new spouse and any children from a previous marriage. Because of this, residents should consider all estate planning tools available to them to make sure that all of their needs are addressed.
Crucial first steps after blending families
If you have an existing estate plan, you’ll want to meet with lawyers to get everything updated immediately after you remarry. Outside of estate planning, there are other important documents that need to be updated.
Most bank accounts, 401(k)s and work-provided life insurance plans encourage you to set a beneficiary upon initial set up. Sometimes, these accounts are completely forgotten about until they’re relevant again.
This can lead to some awkward exchanges at a later date. For example, if you never update your 401(k) after you remarry, all of the proceeds of that plan would go to whoever you listed as a beneficiary when you first set it up – and normally, this is your ex-spouse.
How to handle children in your estate plan
As a default, all assets will go to the current spouse regardless of any adult children. In blended families, this setup becomes a little more complicated.
For example, you might want to leave everything to your biological children over your new spouse. Unless you write this out in your will and estate plan, everything would still go to your new spouse.
Some people split all assets among their children and stepchildren equally. However, it may be a good idea to consider if one child or set of children need more help than others – your minor children might need college funds, for example, while your adult children might not need as much.
Regardless of how you want your estate plan set up, it’s important to take time to update it frequently. Otherwise, it can cause a lot of time and heartache for your surviving family members to sort out on their own.