The typical California family is anything but typical. Some families consist of mom, dad and the kids; other families include step-parents and step-children. Estate planning is essential regardless of the family make-up; however, with blended families, estate planning can be crucial in making sure that each individual receives the intended inheritance.
While a will is an essential document, it is also important to make sure that the beneficiaries on retirement and investment accounts as well as insurance policies are as intended. With a change in family status, it is easy to remember to change the beneficiary in one place but not in the other. This can lead to confusion and potential conflict among heirs.
It is possible that the beneficiary listed on the actual accounts will take precedence over one identified in the will. Additionally, if the current spouse and children from a previous marriage are to each receive a portion of these accounts, it may be best to identify them each as primary beneficiaries. Inheritance issues can become contentious, and it makes good sense to have an attorney experienced in estate planning review the documents.
Another way to make sure that one’s wishes are carried out is through a prenuptial agreement. This agreement can identify which assets should go to a new spouse. It can then specify exactly what inheritance is intended for the children from a previous relationship.
Blended families are common throughout California. In many instances, estate planning is a simple process with each member of the blended family understanding what is expected. However, there are times when inheritance issues arise, and it necessary to have already anticipated these possibilities and accounted for them in order to avoid further problems.
Source: westseattleherald.com, “Estate planning tips for blended families”, Dec. 8, 2016