Starting a new family is always exciting and even a tad scary. This natural apprehension can be enhanced when a couple creates a blended family. Bringing children from different parents together presents challenges - and those challenges are multiplied when the couple have new children of their own.
Conflict between new spouses and step-children can be avoided with advance planning now.
Merging two families into one presents financial issues which can cause significant disruption later if a couple does not deal with them early on.
Three significant issues include:
Differing opinions on prenuptial agreements
Different financial goals
Different ideas about how assets should be handled after death
While these are not insurmountable problems, dealing with them upfront can prevent grief and hard feelings later.
A well-drafted prenuptial agreement can prevent later misunderstandings. Some people are concerned that asking for a prenuptial agreement shows they lack confidence in the marriage right out of the box. In truth, however, a prenuptial agreement actually protects both parties and the relationship by surfacing hard issues while there is significant love in the field.
This is particularly important in blended families, where the partners may have different expectations of how assets will be split if the marriage ends or when one of the partners dies. With skilled counsel (who actually knows how to counsel not just lawyer), the prenuptial agreement conversation can actually create more closeness. Newly married couples may also have differences of opinion about budgets and financial goals. These issues are generally magnified in blended family situations. One or both partners may have accumulated assets or debts before their marriage, so it is critical that both consider and discuss their full financial picture including assets, debts, cash flow, budgets, and goals.
It is especially important that partners in blended families talk about what they want to happen with their assets when they die. Working with a lawyer who has experience with both family law and estate planning will help the couple clarify and document their goals so there is not a fight between the survivor’s children and the survivor of the partnership after the death of the first to die.
Solid estate planning is always important, but it is even more so in blended families. If you have a blended family or are in the process of merging two families, we can help you build a foundation for success.
This article is an educational service of View Ridge Family Law & Estate Planning, which develops trusting relationships with families for life. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Plan, where we can explain financial management techniques and help identify the best strategies for you and your family. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk because this planning is so important. 206-336-9195