Blended families require special considerations, especially when it comes to estate planning.
Blended families are common in America.
Many adults get married and have children, then divorce and remarry.
Some then lather, rinse, and repeat.
Although common, remarriage creates more complex family systems.
More complex family systems can be a nightmare without proper estates planning.
According to a recent nj.com article titled “Who gets this house after spouse dies with no will?,” intestacy is a nightmare with blended families.
What is intestacy?
Intestacy is when a person dies without a last will and testament.
The laws of the state of residency then designate who will inherit the assets from the estate.
These laws take into account whether the decedent had a spouse, living children, parents, or other close relatives.
The assets governed by intestacy must be part of the individual estate of the decedent.
Having a blended family can complicate matters because the number and type of relationships have greater complexity and nuance.
Jointly owned assets or those with beneficiary designations will not be distributed through the intestacy probate proceedings.
If you and your spouse own a home as joint tenants with the right of survivorship, your spouse will gain full ownership when you die.
Your children and the children of your spouse will have no right to income generated from the sale of the house.
If the house is owned as tenants in common, you and your spouse each have a 50 percent interest in the home.
What does this mean?
When you die, your relatives may receive a share of your 50 percent holding.
Both your heirs and your spouse must agree to sell the property and the proceeds will be divided according to the stake of each person in the ownership of the home.
This can certainly become more complicated when blended families are involved, especially when stepchildren and step-parents have conflicts.
Estate planning is especially important for blended families as it can protect inheritances for the current spouse and for children from previous marriages and relationships.
Reference: nj.com (May 5, 2021) “Who gets this house after spouse dies with no will?”