What Happens to Your Estate Plan when You have a Non-Traditional Family?

A second marriage can create a variety of challenges and opportunities for your estate plan. If you have married for a second time, don’t forget to review your estate plan, including your will, any trusts, and living will with your estate planning attorney. Johnstown estate planning attorney, Dan Hill, is an excellent resource and can help you understand what may be needed.

In addition to introducing new potential beneficiaries, a second marriage can also lead you to reconsider how your assets will be managed and distributed. You may need to figure out how to provide for your new spouse in the event of your death as well as for any new children of your second marriage.

While every family and therefore its estate plan is unique, some factors to consider with a second marriage and estate planning can include these topics.

Selecting an Executor

The executor of has a lot of responsibility regarding your estate plans. This is that special trusted someone who wraps up a deceased individual’s financial affairs. They’ve got to ensure your final wishes get carried out and your obligations all get addressed in a timely manner. 

estate planning and second marriage
So picking a responsible individual to serve as your executor is an important task. Remember that marriage brings both your new spouse and their family into a relationship with your original family. Though you married the person, you’re getting everyone else, too – their children from a previous marriage, their aging mom and dad, and their beloved siblings.  That can make it hard to choose the right person to serve as your executor as you will want to make sure the person you choose can be fair and impartial You don’t want there to be any underlying loyalties or obligations to certain family members.
For example, your new spouse may have a sibling with legal expertise and experience, making them an attractive candidate to serve as a executor. On the other hand, you’ve had your oldest son currently named as executor and you don’t want him to feel slighted if you make a change. Some folks concerned about potential family conflicts will consider appointing a professional, such as an attorney or trust company as executor.

Conflicting Interests

An estate plan is designed to ensure the right people end up as the beneficiaries of your assets. Even in more traditional families, this can be a difficult task to complete.
Should your surviving spouse get the house? If your new spouse is residing in a house in your name, you may want to make sure no other beneficiaries try to force them out after your death. Who gets your financial assets and how can they be divided fairly? What factors should you consider when deciding who needs the money the most? Which beneficiary gets the precious “family” heirlooms? If the new spouse has children, should they be included as beneficiaries or only the biological children of your first marriage?
You can see there is a lot to think about and an seasoned estate planning attorney like Dan Hill can guide you to make decisions. Since a second marriage can bring multiple people into a single new family unit, it can also create some conflicting interests regarding asset distribution that can lead to hard conversations and hurt feelings.  Before you create a problem, get with your attorney and discuss your family situation and your hopes as to how you want your loved ones to be protected and benefit from the distribution of your assets and property.

Living Will and Power of Attorney

Two powerful pieces of any estate plan is your Living Will and your Power of Attorney documents.  A Living Will is a legal document that explicitly states your wishes in regards to medical treatments and decisions in case you become unable to do so.  A Power of Attorney grants authority to someone you trust to act on your behalf if you have become temporarily incapacitated.  

You will want to make sure that these documents are updated to ensure that whomever you have chosen 1)  makes sure the health care professionals know what you want done in a living will situation, and 2) that your POA ensures bills can be paid, taxes filed etc. 

All in all, you want your estate plan to create an opportunity for your beloved beneficiaries to enjoy their inheritance without any misunderstandings or confusion.  Incorporating the new people of your second marriage into a good estate plan is advisable.

Want to learn more? Contact The Hill Group LLC today.