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Estate Planning Mistakes Remarried Parents Should Watch Out For

For remarried parents, the stakes of estate planning are high, as failing to update or properly structure their estate plans can lead to significant unintended consequences. 

There are, for example, consequential estate planning mistakes that remarried parents should be vigilant about avoiding, to better ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes while protecting the financial well-being of both their spouse and any children from previous relationships.

Overlooking the need for a revised will and/or trust 

Remarriage is a significant life event that will likely necessitate a thorough review and often a complete overhaul of your existing estate plan. An outdated will may lead to the distribution of your assets in ways that no longer reflect your current intentions or family structure. For instance, if your will is not updated, the entirety of your estate might pass to your new spouse, potentially disinheriting your children from a previous marriage. Establishing a trust can be a smart way to allocate assets to your spouse during their lifetime while better ensuring that the principal goes to your children after your spouse’s death.

Failing to update beneficiary designations 

One of the most common oversights for remarried individuals is neglecting to update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and other assets not addressed in an estate plan, once a family has blended. If you’ve remarried, it’s important to review and amend these designations to reflect your current relationships. Without these updates, assets could inadvertently pass to an ex-spouse or other unintended beneficiaries, rather than to the current spouse, children and/or step-children.

Ignoring the potential for family conflict

Estate planning for blended families may need to be influenced by the risk of conflict down the road. Remarried parents should consider the dynamics between step-siblings and step-parents, for example. Open communication about estate plans can help manage expectations and mitigate resentment or misunderstandings after your passing. 

Estate planning for remarried parents requires careful consideration and strategic planning to avoid inadvertently harming loved ones or sparking family conflicts. By avoiding these common missteps, remarried parents can work to create a well-structured estate plan that honors their wishes and provides for their blended family’s future needs.