Blended Family Blunders: Considerations for Your Will

If you are in a second marriage or second relationship, your estate planning documents should reflect that.  For example, if you have children from a first relationship but would also like to provide something in your Will for your spouse, this can be done in a number of ways.  You will want to consider which assets should go to whom and whether they should be held in a trust or given to the spouse or children outright.

There are matrimonial property issues which impact your Will when you are in a second marriage or relationship and issues of to whom you are required by law to provide support.  Sometimes there is a conflict between providing for your spouse and your children and you will need to plan around that issue.

Each second marriage/relationship is different depending on the dynamics and make up of your family.  If you have been in this marriage/relationship a long time and there are no real conflicts within the family, you may consider doing mutual Wills where all of your assets go to the spouse at the death of the first spouse and then on to the children when the second spouse dies.  This requires the spouses to sign a contract which binds them and their estates.  Generally the children of both spouses are included in the distribution and the blended family is treated as one family.

If this would not work for your situation, there are many other ways of dealing with your estate.  Trusts are a fabulous vehicle, as are insurance policies, if the circumstances are right.  Holding funds in trust for a spouse to use and then having what remains at the end of the spouse’s life go to your children is very common in second marriages/relationships.

Maintaining an insurance policy so that your children receive something on your death while your other funds go to your spouse is also a solution if the circumstances are right and the policy does not become too expensive to maintain.