Estate Planning for Blended Families

New York Estate Planning Law Firm

While a will leaving everything to one’s spouse may be sufficient for a traditional family, other families often require more creative and flexible solutions to provide for the various family members. We work with families of all types to ensure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones protected.

Estate Planning for Blended Families, Second Marriages, and Unmarried Couples

Most of the estate laws in place today were written at a time when the typical family looked more like Leave It to Beaver than Modern Family. Families these days come in all shapes and sizes, and estate planning must adapt to the variety of relationships that we see today.

The default rules of the state – while often appropriate for the traditional family – can spell disaster for other families. So being proactive about putting a plan in place is particularly important if your family does not fit the conventional mold.

There are several strategies and tools we use to help families create a flexible plan that works for their unique situation.


Planning for Blended Families & Second Marriages

While a will leaving everything to one’s spouse may be sufficient for a traditional family, in families where there are children from a prior marriage, more creative planning is often necessary. Leaving everything to your spouse without ensuring that your children are provided for in your spouse’s estate could have unintended consequences.

To illustrate, suppose a man has three children from a prior marriage and dies leaving everything to his current wife, with the expectation that she will leave remaining assets to his children.

There are many scenarios that might result in the children’s inheritance being lost:

His wife dies without a will

So everything is goes to her next-of-kin.

His wife remarries and and doesn't sign a pre-nuptial agreement

Even if she executes a will leaving everything to the children, if she dies before her new husband, the husband will have a right to one-third of her estate.

The wife may simply decide to leave all her assets

To her own children or another party, leaving your children with nothing.

Fortunately, there are strategies that you can implement to ensure that both your spouse and your children are taken care of when you’re no longer around.