On its face, estate planning might seem relatively simple. That’s why so many people put it off for a long time, sometimes never creating an estate plan. This is especially true in situations where an individual simply wants to pass down their assets to their spouse and their children. But even this can become a complicated matter when there isn’t an estate plan in place, particularly when there’s a blended family.
Estate planning for the blended family
If you pass away without a will, then your assets will be distributed in accordance with state law. In California, that means that your spouse will inherit all of your community property and your children will inherit up to two-thirds of your separate property. That might not sound like a bad outcome, but if you come from a blended family this means that your biological children might lose out on a significant piece of your estate.
This is because without an estate plan, there’s no guarantee that your biological children will receive any of your community property or the remaining portion of your separate property. Instead, your spouse will be free to pass those assets down as he or she sees fit, which may include cutting out your children or other loved ones.
Retaining control over your estate
If you want to avoid that outcome, then you should carefully consider creating a custom-tailored estate plan that works for you and your family. By doing so, you can create a trust that leaves assets to your spouse and children, perhaps even containing provisions that specify how those assets will be distributed upon the initial heir’s passing. For example, you can specify that your spouse is to receive certain assets in trust, with the remainder of the trust passing to your biological children upon your spouse’s passing.
The point is that you can create the individualized plan that you want and need. There’s simply too much at risk to leave the distribution of your hard earned assets in the hands of the State. To learn more about what estate planning can do for you in your blended family, consider reaching out to an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law.