Statistics compiled by Pew Research show that over half of the families in the United States are either recoupled or remarried. Raising children in a blended family introduces a number of unique challenges. One of the most overlooked obstacles faced by these kinds of families involves estate planning. In the hopes of better preparing blended families for this complex but important task, the following will review some helpful suggestions:

You Will Likely Need More Than a Will

By using just a will in an estate plan, you create the possibility that disputes will occur among surviving loved ones and that your children will be left out of receiving any proceeds from your estate. It is often a wise idea to determine if you would be better off passing assets through a trust or one of several other types of estate planning tools.

Recognize the Value of a Trust

You might benefit from creating a trust that leaves assets to your spouse for that spouse’s lifetime and then passes the remaining balance to your children after your spouse’s death. Passing assets through a trust also ensures that a surviving spouse is able to access funds while he or she is alive and that assets proceed to any surviving children following the spouse’s death.

Select an Adequate Trustee

It is critical to select a trustee who can make appropriate financial decisions about investing assets and then distribute these funds to the appropriate individuals. In situations in which blended families are involved, it is possible that tensions could arise between a spouse and children. A trustee, however, could help to resolve these disputes and make sure that the deceased individual’s wishes are carried out appropriately.

Plan for a Spouse’s Remarriage

It is understandable that some people want to remarry following a spouse’s death. It is important to plan for the remarriage of a surviving spouse when estate planning. A trust can make sure that assets are adequately protected in case a spouse remarries.

Consider Leaving All Assets to Biological Children

In some situations in which blended families are involved, children can end up waiting for a spouse to die before benefits are passed on to them. By leaving all of your assets to biological children following your death, you can avoid a situation in which your biological children are waiting around for a stepparent to pass on.

Decide Who Will Make Health Care Decisions

It is critical to determine who will make health care decisions in case you become incapacitated. In many cases, this will involve appointing either a spouse or child. There is a potential, however, that disputes will arise concerning who should provide healthcare determinations. Discuss your health care plans with loved ones ahead of time (now) to limit the chances that conflict arises.

Speak With an Experienced Oklahoma Estate Planning Lawyer

If you are part of a blended family that is considering estate planning, you should speak with an experienced attorney. Contact attorney Jim A Lyon today to schedule a free initial consultation.