Torrance Blended Family Estate Planning Lawyer
Experienced Torrance estate planning attorney helping blended families plan for the future
Divorce is extremely common these days. Some of us may have more friends who have been divorced than those who have remained married to one person. While divorce and remarriage can add complicating factors to the process of estate planning, experienced and knowledgeable California estate planning attorneys understand how to address these complications in a way that will minimize opportunities for conflict.
Samuel Ford Law has assisted families shaped by divorce and remarriage for many years. We understand that certain subjects can require sensitivity when crafting an estate plan that combines children from different marriages. Our years of practice and dedication to each family we serve make Samuel Ford Law the right choice for Torrance blended family estate planning in the South Bay of Los Angeles.
Updating your estate planning documents after a divorce is critical
Divorce causes countless changes to an existing estate plan. Most people list their spouse as the beneficiary to numerous different financial accounts, life insurance policies, retirement savings plans, and other important financial documents. In most cases, these beneficiary designations override any other allocations of these funds. For example, if a life insurance policy is held in trust for your current spouse, but the beneficiary on the policy is your former spouse, the policy will be paid out to your former spouse.
Ensuring that your beneficiaries are updated is just one of many reasons to meet with a California estate planning attorney after a divorce and remarriage. Aside from beneficiary designations, any trusts, property titles, and last will and testament are all likely to need an update. A Torrance estate planning attorney at Samuel Ford Law can help ensure that your estate plan is up to date after a split.
Estate planning as a member of a blended family raises special concerns
After a second marriage, your estate planning needs and goals are likely very different from when you were married for the first time. You are more likely to have a greater amount of assets after rising in your professional field, as well as children from a first marriage. In many cases, each spouse can comfortably care for themselves without a need to be provided for in their spouse’s will, which shifts estate planning priorities. A careful and experienced estate planning attorney can offer you solutions that will meet your unique goals, whether those are to protect your wealth for your children, provide generously for your new spouse and their family, or a combination of the two.
After a remarriage, here are some new considerations to make while crafting a revised estate plan:
- Testamentary gifts and beneficiary designations might get more complicated with a second marriage, especially if you have children from a previous relationship. In a first marriage to the co-parent of your children, there isn’t much risk in listing only your spouse as your beneficiary, since you can feel confident that your spouse will share these funds with your kids. A new spouse might not be as close to your children from a previous marriage, or disagreements may arise after you pass that could result in changes to the terms of your estate plan or trust if your spouse has the power to alter them. There are ways to prevent these changes, however. For example, you might want to include both your spouse and your children as separate beneficiaries on trusts or other accounts. This will ensure that the gifts you wish your children to have will go to them, rather than only to your spouse or their children from a prior relationship. Alternately, consider requiring an annual accounting by your spouse to your children if the trust remains in your spouse’s name, so that your children do not become concerned that the spouse is misusing trust funds.
- Pay attention to how you title assets. Many married couples own their homes as a “joint tenancy with a right of survivorship.” This results in the home automatically becoming the surviving joint tenant’s property upon the death of the other joint tenant, regardless of whether you’ve left the home to someone other than your spouse in your will. If it is your desire to leave your home to your spouse when you die, then this is the appropriate way to deed your property. If, however, you want to leave your home to someone other than your current spouse, such as your children, you should consider an alternate form of ownership, such as a tenancy in common.
- Choose a trustee who can remain neutral in the face of disputes between new spouses and children from a prior relationship. Trusts that serve blended families may benefit from hiring a professional, such as a trust administration attorney, to act in this role.
Call Samuel Ford Law in Torrance for Help with Blended Estate Planning in the South Bay
At the South Bay offices of Samuel Ford Law, we can help you have these challenging conversations with your spouse, providing objective insight that can help both parties understand the challenges and create a plan that provides the custom solutions they need. Contact us in Torrance today for a consultation on your blended family estate plan.