Stepfamily Assets at Risk: What Can You Do

If you have a stepfamily or you have a variety of valuable assets built up into a nest egg for retirement – they may be at risk if you have an ineffective will/trust or no estate plan at all. How do you know your Will will work if you won’t be around when the will is probated?

Stepfamilies and blended families are on the rise. If you were an American married last year, you have a 40% chance of entering into a remarriage – triple the 13% chance of entering a remarriage in 1960. And of all current marriages, 40% are stepfamilies – meaning, at least one spouse brought a child from a previous relationship or marriage into the marriage.

Having a stepfamily, having simmering family issues, and owning more assets are a few factors that complicate estate planning. Here are some of my frequent observations regarding these factors:

  • It is common for stepfamily members to take a majority of the estate, often to the exclusion of the first children of the decedent.
  • Often, the home and valuable possessions of the recently deceased are “raided” by near and distant-related family members around the time of death.
  • It is common for a closely related family member to “grind an ax” or exact revenge upon a relative in the distribution and probate of an estate.
  • More money = More worry. Owning more assets, like businesses, multiple pieces of real estate, and investments will always result in more complexity. Just like insurance on those assets, professional trust or will-based estate planning will provide support, solutions, simplicity and ultimately peace of mind.

A little investment into the planning of your estate now will likely save a lot of potential time and money in the handling of your probate later. Two examples could save most people thousands:

  • A trust-based estate plan often eliminates the costs, time and long process of probate in the future.
  • A will-based estate plan for a couple can often be arranged so that only one probate (or none) is needed at the passing of the second partner or spouse.

In answer to the question posed above: The only way to know if your plan will work as intended is to have it reviewed or drafted by an estate planning and probate attorney with a known reputation for drafting wills and trusts. It’s almost magical the good a well-drafted estate plan can do for a family in the protection and direction of a legacy, sometimes over generations.

If you want to insure your life, buy life insurance from a licensed agent and pay the premium. If you want to ensure your legacy and direct what happens with your estate, get an estate plan from a reputable licensed estate planning attorney. Anything less may be a cost paid out of your legacy.

At the Meyring Law Firm we take care of our clients, their families and their businesses. We understand that estate planning, transitions, and family changes are difficult, so we have created a straightforward process to make it easy and convenient to establish your estate plan, support it over the years, and guide families through the probate process. At the Meyring Law Firm, we are “Taking Care of Your Future for Life”.

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