Bringing two separate families together to create a new, blended family isn’t easy. Whether the new family is the result of divorce, death or other circumstances, they are often unresolved emotions, financial concerns and practical issues that need to be resolved:
• Where will we celebrate holidays?
• I don’t like mom’s new husband.
• Who will inherit mom’s jewelry?
It’s important for newly blended families to have on-going conversations about the changes, and to realize that the process of creating a new family doesn’t happen over time. When it comes to issues surrounding estate planning, stepchildren and blended families, you want to make sure your goals are clearly communicated and documented.
To protect those you care about and who depend on you, it’s important that if you are in a newly blended family you review and update your estate plan as soon as possible.
1. Update Your Wills and Trusts
Whether your family has changed due to divorce or death, it’s important to update your wills and trusts as quickly as possible to protect all the members of your family. If you were previously married, your deceased spouse is likely a beneficiary in your estate planning documents. If you have new stepchildren, they are likely not provided for in your current estate plan.
2. Did You Sign A Prenup?
Prenuptial agreements have become more common, and people entering second or even third marriages are likely to have a prenup to protect their premarital assets. Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts that are enforceable in Illinois, and you want to make sure your prenup and will are in alignment so you don’t cause extra stress on your loved ones if they contradict each other.
3. Share Your New Estate Plan With Your Loved Ones
Communicate the contents of your estate plan and final wishes to your family. Particularly in blended families, when a loved one dies, family conflict and stress are too often a result, primarily because the deceased did not let their family know their wishes in advance.
Many families have been torn apart by conflict and stress when someone dies and their will or trust is not what was expected. If not handled properly, a failure to update your estate plan when you create a blended family can create mistrust and discord among family members.
The experienced estate planning attorneys at Estate and Probate Legal Group serve clients in Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties in Illinois can advise you on the best options to protect your assets and loved ones. To talk to an estate planning attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-687-9100.