Estate planning is an essential component of financial planning for all families, but it is particularly important for blended families. Blended families can have complicated dynamics, and estate planning can help to ensure that all parties are provided for in the event of a tragedy or death. It can also help to prevent unnecessary disputes over who is entitled to what after a family member’s death. This blog post will explore why estate planning is essential for blended families and how an estate planning lawyer can help your family prepare for the future.
What Is a Blended Family?
A blended family is a type of family composed of two adults and their children who are from different family units. This can include stepparents, step-siblings, half-siblings, and extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. With the complexity of modern life, it is crucial to plan ahead to ensure that all members of a blended family are cared for in the event of a tragedy or unforeseen circumstance. Estate planning is an integral part of that process. Through a well-designed estate plan, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out, and all your family members are provided for.
The Importance of Having a Will
Having a will is especially important for blended families. Your will can delineate your wishes for the disposition of your assets and specify that each family member receives their rightful share of your estate. In a will, you can name an executor to handle your estate and name a guardian for minor children. Having a will can also help to avoid potential disputes between family members over the estate.
The Importance of Having a Trust
A trust can protect the assets held in the trust from probate, and in some cases, from taxation and creditors. You can also use a trust to ensure that minor children or grandchildren are provided for in the event of your death. There are a variety of different types of trusts that can accomplish different goals. You could set up a spendthrift trust, for example, if you think the person you want to leave money to will blast through it quickly. This type of trust could provide for periodic payments to the beneficiary without allowing them access to the full value of the trust. You could create a charitable remainder trust if you wish to leave assets to a charity after you’ve passed. You and your attorney can determine which types of trust would serve you and your family best.
The Difference Between a Will and a Trust
A will is a document that identifies who will receive a person’s assets upon their death. It also states who will be responsible for managing those assets and carrying out the wishes of the deceased. A trust is a separate legal entity that holds and distributes assets according to the terms set forth in the trust. Trusts offer more flexibility than wills, as they allow the creator to control how their assets are managed during their life and after their death.
Powers of Attorney
Another essential component of estate planning is to create powers of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney is a document granting another person the authority to make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot do so yourself. A financial power of attorney grants another person the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. These people should be chosen carefully. You must trust that they will carry out your wishes in each event and not be swayed by the opinions of others as to what they should do.
Other Estate Planning Considerations for Blended Families
One of the primary purposes of creating an estate plan when you have a blended family is to make sure that the people you love are able to obtain the assets you want them to have after you pass. Under Iowa law, when a person dies intestate (without a will), their assets pass to their spouse, children, or descendants. If there are no descendants or spouse, the parents inherit next. If no parents survive, then siblings inherit. Without a purposeful estate plan, step-children are not included in the line of inheritance.
When creating an estate plan for a blended family, it is essential to consider all potential scenarios and each family member’s financial and emotional needs. You should also ensure that any wills or trusts are updated as circumstances change. You must make sure everyone you care about is taken into account when creating an estate plan.
Speak With an Iowa Estate Planning Attorney
At Arenson Law Group, PC, our Cedar Rapids estate planning attorneys are knowledgeable in all aspects of estate planning and understand how to help you protect your assets for your family. We can create a comprehensive will that considers all aspects of your family’s specific circumstances and a trust that ensures your assets get to the appropriate beneficiary without probate after your passing.
With the help of our experienced legal team, you can rest assured that your estate plan will protect your loved ones and keep your assets secure. Contact us today at (319) 363-8199 to learn more about our services and set up a confidential legal consultation.