When a couple in Florida makes the choice to get married, they often spend a lot of time discussing plans for their wedding. A lot of energy also commonly goes to the logistics of their new post-marriage life including where they will live, when each person’s children will be with them, and how they will integrate their various children’s lives into a cohesive blended family.
In addition to these topics, however, Fidelity Investments recommends that couples spend time discussing their wishes for an estate plan. Each person in a new marriage generally brings a set of assets and potentially even debts into their marriage. Partners need to identify what assets and debts they will combine and what, if any, they wish to remain separate.
The identification of joint or separate assets logically sets up the conversations around who will receive what assets upon the death of one or both spouses. People normally want to ensure their surviving spouse receives sufficient assets to live on and be properly cared for. At the same time, they logically wish to provide an inheritance for their biological children.
A creative approach to estate planning gives spouses in a blended family the ability to leave some assets for the surviving spouse while protecting some assets for the children. These types of agreements should be openly discussed ahead of time not only by the spouses, but also among the children if they are adults. This goes a long way toward avoiding disputes or hurt feelings when the estate plan wishes are eventually revealed after one person dies.