When two people get married and bring children from previous relationships into the new family, we call the new arrangement a blended family. While it might have been an unusual situation back in the days when The Brady Bunch first premiered, it’s very common today. When blended families are formed after divorce, there are often complicated relationships with ex-spouses who share custody of the children.
People who navigate these complex situations smoothly know that the keys to success are open communication, setting boundaries, and letting go of anger and resentment. The same can be said when you start to look into estate planning for your new family. At The Ashmore Law Firm, we help many couples in second or subsequent marriages make a plan that protects their new family and honors their wishes.
The Worst Thing You Can Do Is Nothing
If you have already been through a divorce, you know how difficult it is to break up a family and divide assets. Even if the court made the decision for you, you might be gun shy about making similar decisions in order to write a will or execute other estate planning documents. However, it is very important that you do take these steps. If you were to die without a will, state law would determine where your property goes, and that might be what you would have chosen.
In Texas, if you die without a will, the following could happen:
If you have children, your spouse won’t inherit everything.
Under Texas intestacy laws, your children have a right to inherit your half of your marriage’s community property and two-thirds of your separate property. If your children are adults, this could be the last thing you want to have happen. It could leave your spouse without enough money to live off of while giving your children money they don’t need.
Real estate inheritance will be complicated.
If the house you share with your spouse is designated as your homestead and is part of your marriage’s community property, your children will inherit your half of the property, but your spouse will have the right to continue living there for the duration of their life. If your separate property includes real estate, your spouse will only get a lifetime right to one-third of that property.
Sound complicated? That’s because it is. The good news is that it’s completely avoidable.
How an Estate Plan Will Solve These Problems
When you work with an estate planning attorney after you get remarried, you can create a plan that ensures that your wishes are honored after your death. With a will, you and your spouse can name each other to inherit the entirety of the estate, avoiding the automatic inheritance by children from a previous marriage. You can choose who you want to inherit your separate property, which might be your spouse but could be anyone else as well.
To further protect your estate from taxes, fees, and court proceedings, you might also want to set up a revocable living trust to hold your community property, separate property, or both. That way, your named beneficiaries—which, again, could just be your spouse—would immediately inherit the assets upon your death, avoiding probate court altogether.
We Understand the Complexities of Blended Families
Blended families are complicated, and estate plans can be tailored to allow you to take care of the many people in your life, from your current spouse and the children you share to your children from a former relationship—and even an ex, if you so choose. There may be people you want to exclude from inheriting anything from you, such as adult children with whom you don’t have a relationship following a divorce. Trust us—we’ve seen it all!
The important thing to understand is that, without a will and other important documents, you will have no control over what happens to your assets and property after your death. It’s also important to know that estate planning documents can be revised, withdrawn, and rewritten at any time and for any reason.
Do You Need To Speak With An Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer In The Dallas Area?
If you need to speak to an experienced estate planning attorney please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202. We help clients throughout the Dallas area with all of their estate planning needs and look forward to helping you.