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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Mockaitis Law Group LLC Sept. 9, 2018

It is not uncommon for people in Illinois to get married after having been married previously whether the prior marriages ended due to death or divorce. In many of these new marriages, at least one spouse has children from their prior marriage and this is where things can become complicated very quickly, especially when looking ahead to inheritances and estate planning.

As Forbes explains, one situation that can cause a lot of upset in families occurs when one spouse in a remarriage dies. Without the right estate plan in place identifying any other path, all of that person’s assets may pass directly to the surviving spouse, leaving nothing for the children of the decedent. When the surviving spouse eventually dies, there may either be nothing left for the children of the first spouse or the last spouse to die may have left everything to their own children.

Fidelity Investments urges couples planning a remarriage to look ahead and openly discuss these and other issues and to make a detailed estate plan to prevent such havoc down the road. Other concerns that couples may want to review are any obligations that one spouse might have to a former spouse or to any minor children or even adult children with special needs. It may be that an existing divorce decree stipulates ongoing spousal support or child support for some period of time. Some divorce decrees even require that one spouse receive the death benefits from the other spouse’s life insurance policy.

Remarried couples might find a combination of a will and a trust beneficial for them. There are even certain types of trusts that can provide asset distribution directly to children or grandchildren bypassing a surviving spouse.