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Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC

Estate Planning for Blended Families

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: October 3, 2013

The change in the American family from one husband, one wife and 1.5 children to a half-dozen people from two different previous relationships has changed the face of modern estate planning here in Washington.

More than half of all marriages end in divorce, and 75 percent of those who end up divorced will remarry. Research indicates that 65 percent of these relationships will result in more children. Today, 40 percent of adults have at least one step-relative.

Here are some tips to help make your plans a reality for your heirs:

  • Disinherit your spouse. After a divorce, consider disinheriting your spouse to prevent him or her from getting assets after your death. This may include amending any joint ownerships and updating any beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or bank accounts.
  • Update your beneficiaries. Not only do you need to remove your old spouse from beneficiary designations, you need to add your new one, or change it to your children if you wish. Remember, beneficiary designations will override a will if the two don’t agree, so don’t rely on a will to do all the work.
  • Prenuptial agreements. Signing a prenup before you remarry can be a good way to keep things separate by designating which assets have been set aside for your children. However, keep in mind many states won’t validate a pre- or postnuptial agreement, and a judge could either ignore or invalidate it.
  • Revocable trusts. A revocable trust is set up and run while you are still alive. During your lifetime, you can amend it, change it, or terminate it. This can help your family avoid the hassle of a probate after your death.

Over the past 27 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More