Although nuclear families still exist, blended families are becoming increasingly common. It’s more common to see step-parents taking a more active role in raising their step-children and better attitudes toward peaceful and friendly co-parenting. However, the increasing preference over “chosen family” may complicate traditional estate planning methods. If you have a blended family unit, it’s still possible to utilize all the same estate planning tools. In fact, it could be argued that it’s even more important to develop a comprehensive estate plan as a blended family to protect your loved ones and the values that matter to you most. Here are some tips for creating an estate plan that works for you.
A trust allows grantors the flexibility to specify how and when assets are distributed to beneficiaries. There are many benefits to establishing a trust, including avoiding probate taxes and the level of customization makes it an appealing choice for many families. For example, you may want to set aside a nest egg for your children, but also want them to wait to access the funds until they have matured and are prepared for the responsibility of managing a large sum of money. A trust can dictate who has access to it, how it’s distributed, when it’s distributed, and what the funds can be used for.
Designating beneficiaries and keeping them up to date is one of the most important pieces of any estate plan. There are many reasons to name beneficiaries, especially in a will. The primary reason is to make sure that the people you love are left with the assets you have worked so hard for. Without a will, your assets will be subject to a lengthy and costly probate process, and they may be automatically distributed to your next of kin. If you want to include special beneficiaries that are not in your immediate next of kin, it’s important to name them as a beneficiary in your will. For example, you may have a close bond with a step-child who may not have legal rights to your estate, but you may want them to receive some of the assets you leave behind. Conversely, if you’re not close to your family and prefer to leave your assets to a close friend or neighbor, including them in your will is an important step to ensuring your wishes are met.
Power of Attorney
Estate planning is not just for dispersing assets after your death. There are many cases where you want to protect your assets and best interests while you’re still living, which can be done with trusts or a power of attorney. There are several types of power of attorney that can be used in the event that you’re incapacitated. Much like with designating beneficiaries, you may want the attorney-in-fact to be someone you trust that may be someone other than your next of kin. For example, it might be preferable to select your best friend as a medical proxy (or medical power of attorney), if they are a medical professional, or can better follow the values outlined in the power of attorney documents.
Estate planning can be challenging, especially if you have a blended family, but it’s crucial in making sure that your loved ones are taken care of and your wishes are met. No matter how your family is built, they’re important. The experienced team at Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center is ready to use their expertise to create the perfect estate plan for your unique needs. For a free consultation, call (270) 982-2883 today.