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These concerns are important for any parent, but if you are part of a blended family, making the appropriate arrangements can be quite complex. And even if your children are grown, if you are part of a blended family, you will continue to need to take your family’s unique circumstances into account when creating your estate plan. The attorneys at our firm can help guide you through the process of estate planning for blended families in Berks County.
Providing Financially for Minor Children
Pennsylvania families come in all forms. Some are “yours, mine, and ours” families wherein one or both parents have children from a prior marriage. Additional biological children may be born into the new marriage. Some single parents have their own households, while others live with relatives who develop close, parent-like relationships with their children.
If you’re married to your child’s other parent, you need to decide together who should manage your child’s finances if both of you pass away while your child is still a minor. In a situation where you are not married to your child’s other parent, making sure that your children are financially safe still requires you to name a fiduciary for any money they will inherit as minors. Most single parents would not choose their ex-partner as their fiduciary, even if the child would ultimately live with that person due to legal custody arrangements.1 You could choose your current partner, a grandparent, or any friend or relative you trust to manage your child’s inheritance. But it’s important to choose someone. If you don’t, a court will appoint someone after you pass, and the decision will be out of your hands. Our attorneys can work with you to figure out the best arrangement for your family.
Adult Children of Blended Families
Even if your children or your partner’s children are grown, estate planning still needs to take into account the unique circumstances of your blended family. Many married couples who try to create estate plans without the help of an attorney will write “I love you” wills, in which each person leaves all their assets outright to the surviving spouse. This choice can have unintended and severe consequences in a blended family. If a widow in her 50s remarries without a prenuptial agreement and creates an “I love you” will with her second spouse, all of the assets built up during her first long marriage will go to the second spouse, not to her children as she and her first husband intended before he passed away. Instead of going this route, it would be best to consult an estate planning attorney who can help you come up with an estate plan that secures your children’s finances while also providing for a surviving spouse. It may be that a trust is appropriate, with income accessible by a surviving spouse for life and the principal distributed to their children upon the time of the remaining parent’s death. There are many options, and none are one size fits all.
Consult a Berks County Attorney Today
Whatever your family picture looks like, it’s critical to ensure your children will be provided for upon your death and that your wishes are carried out without unforeseen curveballs getting in the way. Call our office at (610) 562-2000 or use the form below.