Getting married and starting a new life with your spouse is a challenging undertaking filled with love, joy, frustration, and compromise. Unfortunately, when couples with children from previous relationships tie the knot, the possibility for conflicting goals and priorities can lead to marital problems down the road.
The best way to minimize and prevent this from happening is to work with the skilled estate planning attorneys of Antanavage Farbiarz, PLLC. We assist families throughout Pennsylvania in protecting their assets and create legacies that will continue to support their loved ones long after they are gone.
Protect Your Legacy and Your Loved Ones
Consider some of the following estate planning strategies that can ensure your children receive the assets and property you bequeathed them. These also can provide much-needed reassurance to your new spouse that they and their children are equally as important and taken care of should you pass away or become incapacitated.
Before saying “I do,” remember that marriage is about love and law. When you marry your partner, you are entering a contract. A prenuptial agreement can protect assets intended for your own biological children should you die or get divorced.
Medical Power of Attorney
Setting up a medical power of attorney and other advanced directives in Pennsylvania is an important step for either spouse in the marriage. This helps to avoid family disputes over medical decisions to be made should your or your partner become incapacitated.
Another method for minimizing disputes that often arise in blended families is to create a revocable trust. These are useful for keeping certain assets separate from those of your spouse. It also allows you to have your children from previous relationships and marriages oversee these assets should you pass away or become incapacitated.
If you or your spouse have assets that creditors might pursue, keeping them in an irrevocable trust is an excellent strategy. Not only can you keep property you want separate from your spouse’s within it, but once created, it can’t be changed except for a few circumstances. Also, this is a smart way to remove assets that you know may lead to a dispute between your blended family members later.
Don’t Wait to Change Your Old Estate Plan Before You Remarry in Pennsylvania
Before you get remarried, have you updated your estate plan to reflect your previous divorce? If you previously created a trust or will during your first marriage, there may be some changes to be made regardless if you’re about to walk down the aisle again or not. This could include changing beneficiaries on your current life insurance policies and removing your ex-spouse from your will.
If you aren’t sure where to begin when re-examining your current estate plan, consider the following pointers to ensure your interests are still adequately represented:
Know What Assets You Have
When reassessing your estate plan, the first step is to take inventory of any debts, assets, and property you have. This would include life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement plans,
Determine How Your Assets Should Be Combined or Not
If you’re currently engaged, take your inventory and decide what you do or do not want to combine with your future spouse’s assets. Making these decisions open and honestly from the very beginning can ensure everyone is on the same page and minimizes the risk for conflict later.
Decide What Happens to Your Estate When You Die
Another important conversation you need to have before getting married is what happens to your estate after you pass away. You want to provide not just for your spouse and your children, but you want them to respect your wishes. The best way to ensure this is to sit down with a Pennsylvania estate planning attorney to determine what options are best for your family circumstances.
Update Your Beneficiaries
Since your last divorce, have you removed your ex-spouse from your life insurance policy as a beneficiary? If you passed away tomorrow, and this remains unchanged, your new partner would not have any recourse unless you update this information. It’s important to note that you cannot remove a previous spouse as a beneficiary on some policies in some circumstances. Make sure to bring your divorce decree with you to your estate planning consultation to learn more.
The Importance of Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
The best way to ensure your blended family respects your wishes and benefits from the assets you set aside for them is to have a comprehensive estate plan. Contact Antanavage Farbiarz, PLLC, to set up a consultation and learn how our services can help create a legacy that benefits your family for generations to come.