Estate planning essentials for a blended family

If you have been married at least twice, the prospect of planning your estate may seem like a challenge. It is still a necessity, though. According to the American Bar Association, approximately 55 percent of Americans do not have a will or any kind of estate plan in place when they die. You do not want to leave your family in the situation that then follows of sorting through your property, disputing who gets what and likely going to court. There are several things everybody should know about estate planning for a blended family.

Review beneficiaries of insurance policies

If you have already specified the beneficiaries of your insurance policies or retirement accounts, you should not neglect to update them upon divorce or remarriage. If you do not, you could leave your ex with a little more than you had planned. Revisit all benefits such as these to update the information and reflect the names of the family members you intend to leave your assets to.

Start cataloging and planning your property

Before you make any decisions regarding the dispersal of your estate, you must determine what it contains and how you would like it handled. You can begin this process by cataloging the items of value you own and considering whether belongings such as these should be retained after your death, passed along to a family member or dealt with otherwise.

Initiate a dialogue with family

The best way to prepare your family for the plans you lay out for your estate is to initiate a dialogue. With a blended family, this might be particularly difficult, but it is well worth it to have discussions that will ease tension and open lines of communication. Talk to all of your children and loved ones about how you plan to deal with your estate, and if they love you, they will respect your decisions.

Consider a trust, a will or both

It is not uncommon for couples who have been remarried to use a trust to indicate the intended distribution of property after their death. In such a situation, a will might be employed, too, in order to keep assets that are not in the name of the trust from being wrongfully distributed. Utilizing both can allow you to plan transference of property to a spouse and then to children.

If you are attempting to plan your estate, but your blended family has complicated your plans, you should research the legal specifications of the situation. Contacting an attorney is one of the ways to do so.