According to Pew Research, more than 40 percent of American adults have a step relative and a sizable portion of American children are living in households with a stepparent, stepsibling or half-sibling. This is a statistic the estate planning attorneys of Surprenant & Beneski pay close attention to, since we are an inclusive practice serving a wide variety of individuals, couples, and families throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.
While in some ways all families have shared characteristics, our lawyers recognize that blended families have some unique estate planning needs. Making an appointment to proactively discuss how to best protect the interests of everyone involved is a smart move. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to address those needs. Contact us today to discuss your options.
Why Blended Families Need a Sharp Estate Planning Attorney
It’s important to realize that once your family is blended, estate planning has become more complicated, requiring the services of an estate planning lawyer familiar with its particular intricacies. Our practice is known for integrity and efficiency. We have dealt with numerous blended families and are well-prepared to help you be fair to every member of your family and to protect your biological children from any eventuality.
Because life is full of uncertainties, we will assist you in making an estate plan that ensures your assets go where you want them to go, not only when you pass away, but if you become seriously injured or incapacitated by an illness or medical event.
Things to Consider When Planning Your Estate With a Blended Family
We will take into account the specifics of your situation, such as whether:
- You became part of a blended family when all of the children were young
- Whether you adopted your spouse’s children from a previous marriage
- Whether you or your spouse is estranged from one or more children
- Whether one child has special needs
- Whether an adult child is a spendthrift or addicted to substances or gambling
We will help you to arrange solutions for problems you may not have even considered, including:
Creating a trust that leaves assets to your spouse for their lifetime, but passes on the balance to your children after your spouse dies. Remember that your spouse may remarry after your death. This trust will protect your children from losing their inheritance to your spouse’s new partner or your spouse’s children.
Guiding you to choose the right trustee, one who you have complete faith will:
- Understand your wishes and will make financial decisions as you would
- Be cautious about investing and careful about how assets are distributed
- Be capable of handling intra-family conflict if the need should arise
- Distribute some assets to your biological children at the time of your death so they don’t have to wait for their inheritance until your spouse passes away
Discussing the Consequences of Your Decisions Regarding Your Future Healthcare
There are a number of crucial decisions to be made in regard to your healthcare, including:
- Who will be your health care proxy to make decisions about your healthcare if you cannot do so?
- Who will you authorize with your HIPAA release form to have access to your medical information if you have become incapacitated?
- What life-saving measures will you want to be taken as stated in your living will if you are receiving end-of-life care?
If there are any tensions between your spouse and your biological children, or you believe that there will be at the time of your incapacity or death, you have to think long and hard about these questions. After all, you want to make sure that the person who makes choices about your healthcare while you are out of commission will follow your wishes and that no one you want to have a say in your medical treatment will be denied a voice. Our estate planning lawyers will create the documents you need and assist you in making these significant decisions.
Contact Our Accomplished Estate Planning Attorneys Now
The time to plan the estate of a blended family is as soon as you’ve blended so you will be prepared for the future. Every blended family has different needs and family dynamics to contend with. Contact us today to learn how we can help.