Proper estate planning is important for blended families.
Are you a member of a blended family?
If yes, then you are in good company.
About 41 percent of Americans have step-relatives, according to the Pew Research Center and Stepfamily Foundation.
The fact that blended families are so common does not make estate planning any easier for them.
What does this mean?
You need to plan ahead.
This is exactly what the Miami (OK) New-Record addresses in the recent article titled “4 tips to resolve financial concerns in stepfamilies.”
Clearly defining individual and shared assets is a must.
Setting financial expectations will minimize confusion and potential conflicts.
If you are divorced, you probably do not want your ex-spouse to be your primary beneficiary or your power of attorney.
You will want to update your beneficiaries for your pensions, accounts and life insurance.
None of these is inherited through a will.
You will also want to set up a living will, health care proxy or durable power of attorney to give decision-making authority to a trusted individual should you become incapacitated.
Change your will.
Chances are with new family members, you will need to update your will.
What should be included in your will?
Clearly identify who gets what, let alone when and how.
If you want to include your step-children, you need to state this in your will.
Unless you have legally adopted them, then they are treated as strangers.
By being specific, you will decrease potential conflicts.
Work with professionals.
Financial and estate planning should not be done alone.
You should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a plan to meet your unique goals and circumstances.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Miami (OK) New-Record (May 20, 2017) “4 tips to resolve financial concerns in stepfamilies”