A new marriage can bring second chances and new opportunities into your life. If one of the additions to your life through your marriage is stepchildren, you may feel a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. Being a stepparent comes with new responsibilities and concerns.
You may find that your stepchildren have a special place in your life now. Perhaps you even want to adopt them. If you think of your stepchildren as your own, you should include them in your estate plan. Here are some tips for leaving an inheritance when you have a blended family.
1. Put them in your will
Your will is the backbone and foundation of your estate plan. It is one of the main ways you leave assets to those you choose. If there are some particular assets you want to leave to members of your blended family, spell it out in your will.
2. Create a trust or multiple trusts
A trust is a helpful estate planning tool that holds assets for beneficiaries and specifies how and when the assets will be distributed. Plus, the assets in a trust do not need to go through probate, so it is a great way to expedite the passing on of certain money or belongings. You may even consider setting up two separate trusts–one for your biological children and one for your stepchildren.
3. Beneficiary designations
Do not forget to update beneficiary designations on any life insurance policies or retirement accounts. While you may want your new spouse to be the primary beneficiary, remember that secondary beneficiaries are important too. If you want your stepchildren to receive something should your spouse pass away, you can designate them as contingent beneficiaries on these policies and accounts.
When your family dynamics change, so should your estate plan. Use these guidelines as starting points as you revisit your estate plan to accommodate for your new family members.