The following estate planning tips for blended families are critical to protecting your children and your other loved ones from struggles and frustrations when you pass away. Even if you are young and your children are not very old, unforeseen things can lead to your family needing to access your estate and assets to continue supporting themselves.
In Pennsylvania, inheritance tax laws can make estate planning and management key to your family’s ability to access your assets if you should pass away. If you want to be sure that your blended family can avoid excessive inheritance tax and the probate process, you need to plan your estate as soon as possible with an eye to PA laws about inheritance.
How Can I Protect My Blended Family?
You will need to understand that in PA, inheritance laws cause very high taxes to be assessed to distant relatives of the decedent. The intestacy laws in this state can also make it impossible for all members of a blended family to access your estate once you have passed away. The only way to prevent these issues is to make sure that you have a trust in place and that you back up this trust with a pour-over will.
When you have a trust in the state of Pennsylvania, you can determine who is to have which items that you are leaving behind, and a large portion of the inheritance tax laws will not apply. Your pour over will can protect the items that you did not remember to include in the trust specifically. Any item that was not named in the trust will be handed off to the decedents named in your trust without having to pass through probate. This can be critical for assets like cars, properties, and other items that were not named in the trust.
Blended families or remarried couples can also choose to keep their assets separate and just have their own trusts and wills in place to protect them. This is most useful in the case of family situations where a former spouse might try to make a claim on the estate. Debts that have been incurred from the first marriage can also be a factor during estate dispersal processes, so keeping things separated can help a lot in this instance as well.
Make sure that you choose the right trustee to carry out your wishes. Choosing the wrong trustee can be just as bad as not having a trust or a will in place when you die. Blended families are particularly vulnerable to issues with access to assets and if you have a trustee in place with a grudge against your new spouse or their children, this could be disastrous.
Working with a skilled estate planning lawyer will help you to create the right trust and will documents to keep your blended family safe if you should pass away. While it might seem very unlikely that you will need to have these protections in place due to your age or the age of your children, things can change in the blink of an eye. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry in the instance that something should happen to you and you pass away.
Some Things to Remember
It takes a full year for a trust to be considered binding in PA, so you will want to get your estate planning sorted out and finalized as soon as possible. Even young people can pass away, and if you have not had your trust in place for long enough, it can be considered invalid and overridden by those contesting the will. Spouses do not pay inheritance tax in this state, but other family members will, so your family might have to pay a hefty sum to gain access to your assets following your untimely death. Making sure that you have a will and a trust in place can make all the difference if you should pass away.
There are various kinds of trusts that you can use to set up your estate, and revocable trusts are sometimes the best option for those with blended families. Your estate planning lawyer will help you to look at the details and make the right choice for your blended family’s needs.