If you’re tying the knot for a second time and have children from your first marriage, then you can’t expect everything to be as rosy as it was on The Brady Bunch. Even if your kids are grown and don’t spend much time with your new partner, they may resent them nonetheless.
One source of conflict between second spouses and their adult stepchildren is simple –- money. Even though your kids don’t depend on you financially any longer, they still likely expect to get a share of your estate after you’re gone. They may be concerned that your new spouse will end up with all your assets -– including family heirlooms.
If you don’t have an estate plan, now’s the time to create one
You can prevent this source of conflict and protect your children and your new spouse with an estate plan. If you already have one, you likely revised it after your divorce or spouse’s death. You’ll need to revise it again as you remarry.
If you never got around to creating one, now’s the time. Otherwise, you risk dying intestate (without a will). If that happens, the courts determine who gets what based on state law. As one certified financial planner says, “It can be a long-drawn-out procedure that no one wants to go through.”
Communication about your plan is essential
It’s also important to talk to your kids and your new spouse about your estate plan. Let your kids tell you what’s important for them to have. They may count on getting your model airplane or doll collection, favorite pieces of jewelry, heirlooms handed down from your family or maybe a vintage sports car. If you’re not ready to part with these things while you’re still around, detail them in your will so there’s no confusion about who gets them.
Trusts are a good option for people with blended families. Whether your children are still minors or nearing retirement themselves, you can set up one or more trusts for them as well as for your spouse to ensure that they all get a share of your assets. Let everyone know that they’re a beneficiary of the trust.
These are just a few things to think about. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you ensure that your estate plan looks out for everyone you love.