Many people make the mistake of thinking that estate planning is nothing more than throwing together a will to specify how their assets will be distributed upon their passing. Others even go so far as to think that they don’t need an estate plan because they simply want their assets left to their spouse and their children.
That sounds easy enough, right? Well, the truth is that for many people, foregoing estate planning or merely creating a simple will is inadequate. This is especially true if you’re part of a blended family.
Why estate planning in a blended family is important
The dynamics in a blended family can be complicated. This, in turn, can make estate planning more challenging than you expected. For example, although you may be comfortable forgoing (or even creating) a rather straightforward estate plan, if you’ve only been married once and have children from that marriage, intestate succession may put your children from a previous relationship at risk. This means that without effective estate planning, your estate’s assets and your loved one’s financial stability could be jeopardized.
Estate distribution in a blended family when there’s no estate plan
Under Georgia law, your spouse and your children will inherit your estate in equal portions, except that your spouse won’t inherit anything less than one-third of your estate. Although that might sound appropriate, you must keep in mind that your spouse is under no obligation to ensure that the portion of your estate they inherited filters down to your children and grandchildren. In fact, in a lot of cases, that inherited portion of an estate ends up remaining in the spouse’s family line.
This means that without an estate plan, your children and your grandchildren might be left without the financial stability that you intended to provide them. If this is an outcome that you want to avoid, you should think about how you can create a thorough estate plan that suits your individual needs.
Your options for estate planning in a blended family
Fortunately, there are several estate planning strategies that you can implement to protect both your spouse and your children. One effective tool is a trust. With this instrument, you leave a specified portion of your estate to your spouse under the condition that anything left over after they pass away will be redirected to another named beneficiary or beneficiaries, which you have specified.
Another option is to provide your children and grandchildren with gifts while you’re still alive. The federal government allows you to give thousands of dollars in gifts to an individual each year without facing tax consequences. This means that you can control where your wealth goes while still having the opportunity to see your loved one enjoy those financial assets.
Are you ready to create the estate plan that is right for you and your family?
Estate planning tends to take a back seat to other life challenges, but it is critically important if you want to retain control over how your estate is distributed and utilized once you pass away. Although it can be difficult to broach the subject, many people feel relieved once they have a solid plan in place.
If you’ve been thinking about estate planning and how best to protect your loved ones once you’re gone, you might want to reach out to a legal team that can educate you on your estate planning options and guide you through the creation process. Hopefully, you can then rest easy knowing that the asset distribution process will play out as you intend.