When you get married in Pennsylvania, you not only merge your lives together, but you also merge your families. This can be a beautiful thing, but it also presents some unique estate planning challenges.
Getting everyone on the same page
The first step is to have a conversation with your spouse about your estate planning goals. This is important because you need to be sure that you’re both on the same page about what you want to happen to your assets after you die.
If you have children from a previous relationship, this conversation becomes even more important. You need to be sure that your spouse is comfortable with the idea of your children inheriting a portion of your estate.
Creating a trust
If you have children from a previous relationship, you may want to consider creating a trust. This will allow you to control how and when your assets are distributed to your children. Remember that even if you leave assets to your own children in your will, and your spouse leaves assets to your spouse’s children in your spouse’s will, if one of you passes away first, the second can always change his or her will. Planning in such instances can be tricky.
You should also consider creating a trust if you have any children with special needs. A special needs trust will allow you to provide for their care without having to worry about them losing their government benefits.
Updating your will
If you already have a will, it should be updated to reflect your new family situation. This means adding your new spouse and any children from your current relationship to the document. You might want to make your new spouse the executor or personal administration of your estate.
It’s also important to update your will if you’ve had any major changes in your life, such as buying a new home, vehicle or vacation property. Making these changes to your will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and not according to the default laws in your state.
Estate planning for blended families can be a bit more complicated than for traditional families, but it’s important to take the time to do it right. Just remember to get everyone on the same page, create a trust if necessary, and update your will to reflect any changes in your family situation. Doing so will give you peace of mind knowing that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer today to get a plan in place which will meet the needs of you and your spouse.