Having a blended family comes with some challenges, one of which is ensuring a surviving spouse has enough to live on while also protecting the children’s inheritance. Over the years, I’ve represented numerous blended families, and in almost every case, couples are concerned about two seemingly competing interests: (1) leaving enough for the surviving spouse and (2) leaving something for the children.
Here’s why it can be a problem. In many cases, most of a couple’s assets are jointly owned, which means they immediately pass to the surviving spouse upon the death of the first spouse. Other assets, such as IRAs, 401Ks, and life insurance policy proceeds typically name the surviving spouse as the primary beneficiary. In both scenarios, the surviving spouse then has no legal obligation to pass any portion of those assets to the children of the spouse who died first.
So what can be done? One option is to simply trust the surviving spouse to “do the right thing.” Unfortunately, as time passes, relationships are often strained, and the surviving spouse leaves everything to his/her own children. The second, better, option is to create an estate plan that guarantees the wellbeing of the surviving spouse but also ensures that children of both spouses receive their fair share of inheritance.
If you’re interested in a free consultation to find out how I can help your blended family solve this potential “train wreck” of a problem, please contact me at (813) 244-7758 or Ross@RossSpanoLaw.com.