April 22, 2017
Michigan Estate Planning Tips For Blended Families
Estate planning for families is very important, especially for blended families. When you remarry, you face several estate planning issues that you did not face during your first marriage, such as how to divide assets acquired prior to your marriage and after your marriage. When dealing with a blended family, you need to contact an attorney who can assist you with in-depth estate planning that can avoid problems and arguments within the family. Below are several ways you can make estate planning easier and less stressful for you and your new spouse.
Communication is the key to creating an estate plan when you are dealing with a blended family. You and your spouse need to explain your wishes and concerns regarding an estate plan clearly. In many cases, it helps to have an estate planning attorney help facilitate discussions regarding assets, life insurance, and long-term care planning. Conversations about how your estate should be divided can become emotional and overwhelming. An attorney can guide you through the process of deciding what is best for your entire family.
Issues You Should Discuss in Detail
When you have a blended family, you have children from a previous marriage, and you may have children together. It can be difficult to work through how your estate will be divided in the event of your death. Do your assets go to your spouse or your children? How are step-children treated in relation to children you have together? Other issues that you must discuss in detail include:
- Medicaid planning
- Long-term care
- Guardianship issues
- Trusts for children
- Commingling assets, keeping assets separate, or creating something in between
- Financial obligations to ex-spouses
- Social Security, pension, and retirement benefits
- Life insurance
There are many issues that can arise in estate planning for blended families. An experienced estate planning lawyer can walk you through each of these issues to help you arrive at a plan that encompasses your wishes and your spouse’s wishes.
Document Your Estate Plan
All your hard work developing an estate plan for your blended family will do not good if you do not execute documents that will ensure your wishes are carried out. You must draft and execute legal documents that detail your wishes. Otherwise, the state will determine how your estate is to be disbursed. Because blended families are not “blood relatives,” your step-children could receive nothing from your estate if you do not place your wishes in writing.
Documents you should discuss with your estate planning attorney include:
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Living Wills
- Healthcare Proxies/Healthcare Directives
- Beneficiary Designations
- Guardianship and Conservatorships
The documents you need depend on your situation. The important thing to remember is that you use an experienced estate planning lawyer to help you determine the estate documents you need and to draft those documents for you.
Many websites offer free or discounted estate planning services. These websites may not be operated by an attorney and often have documents that are broad and general. The documents may not meet the requirements to be valid in our state. Therefore, using these websites is not wise, especially when you are dealing with the complex issues involved in estate planning for blended families.
Call The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry, CELA For More Information
Our firm has offices in several locations to better serve our clients in Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties. Contact our office by calling 888-390-4360 or use our online contact form to request more information or schedule an appointment. We understand how delicate estate planning can be for a blended family.