Long ago, a typical family consisted of a husband, wife and their children. Divorce, remarriage, adoption and same sex-couples have changed the face the family norm. With so many different blended families emerging, it is important for you to plan your estate accordingly. Luckily, there are a few tips to help you plan your estate successfully.
Children from a Previous Marriage
Approximately 65% of all remarried couples have children from a previous marriage. Although you and your spouse may accept children from a previous marriage, the relationship that you form with step-children may differ from the relationship that you form with your children.
Fortunately, there is a way to make sure your spouse and all children involved in your blended family receive assets, and that is through careful estate planning. Normally, you would assign your spouse as your beneficiary. Your beneficiary is then in charge of dividing up your assets among the children.
You can specify that you would like certain portions of your estate (house, car, jewelry, etc.) to go to your spouse while certain other items within your estate go to each child. If your spouse decides not to share your estate with your children, you can make sure your children receive a fair share thanks to estate planning.
Shared Home, Unshared Deed
When you remarry, you have a few living arrangements to consider. You and your spouse can purchase a new home together. Of course, it makes more sense for one of you to sell your home so your spouse can move into your home or vice-versa. The only problem with the situation is you may not want to go through the hassle of adding your spouse's name to the deed.
Of course, you want your spouse to have a home to live in should something happen to you. Unless your spouse's name is on the deed, family members may come in and attempt to disinherit your spouse and take the home. Luckily, you do not have to add your spouse's name to the deed in order to ensure they get the house upon your death.
Estate planning allows you to choose exactly who will inherit your house. Life estates offer plenty of options for blended families. You can even specify what can happen with your home should your spouse choose to move or abandon the property. Make sure you specify whether you want the property rented or sold in the event of abandonment.
Providing for the Ex-Spouse
If you and your ex-spouse have school-aged children together, you will want to include your ex-spouse in your estate. Explain to your current spouse that it is your responsibility to make sure your children receive the care and finances you need in the event something happens to you.
You can specify an amount your ex-spouse is entitled to, and you can even specify how much your ex will receive each month from your estate. After you complete your divorce, you will need to make sure you remove your ex as your beneficiary. Your ex can take everything you own, leaving your current spouse with nothing if you do not switch out your beneficiary.
Although you can list your new spouse as the beneficiary, you should make sure that your ex-spouse is included somewhere in your estate. That allows you to make sure you school-aged children receive the proper funding and care they need. Once the children reach adulthood, you can alter your estate to include the children rather than your ex.
Planning an estate is no easy task. Perhaps you have an idea of who should receive what, but you don't know how to go about it legally or put it into words. Luckily, an estates professional from a firm like Kasman Sheldon L & Associate LLP wills lawyer Toronto can help you sort everything out in a manner that suits your wants and needs best.