Category: Divorce

Marital Trusts Help Protect Blended Families

Marital Trusts help protect Blended Families

Marital trusts help protect blended families from complicated family dynamics. Understanding marital trusts is crucial for couples looking to secure their financial future and provide for the surviving spouse tax-efficiently. This article is a guide to marital trusts, how they work and their advantages and disadvantages. With the potential to safeguard assets and ensure that they reach the intended beneficiaries, marital trusts can be an effective part of a comprehensive estate plan, particularly for those in a second marriage or a blended family.

What Is a Marital Trust?

A marital trust is a type of irrevocable trust and is crafted to benefit the surviving spouse. It allows for the managed distribution of assets, potentially safeguarding against financial imprudence or external influences.

Consider that while many couples are just fine with everything going to the surviving spouse directly and outright after one spouse dies, in some cases, there may be concerns related to the surviving spouse not being able to manage the money effectively. What would happen to the money if the surviving spouse is not good with money or is vulnerable to financial predators? Perhaps giving the entire estate outright to the spouse would run the risk that all of the money would be spent irresponsibly. A marital trust allows for both tax benefits and protections for the couple’s estate to prevent these issues from happening.

How Do Marital Trusts Work?

There are three parties involved in setting up, maintaining and ultimately passing along the trust, including a grantor, who is the person who establishes the trust; the trustee, who’s the person or organization that manages the trust and its assets; and the beneficiary. That person will eventually receive the assets in the trust once the grantor dies. The surviving spouse must be the sole beneficiary of a marital trust. Once the surviving spouse dies, the assets in the trust typically pass to surviving children. A marital trust also involves the principal, which are assets initially put into the trust.

How Do Marital Trusts Assist Blended Families?

For blended families, using a marital trust is becoming more popular as a means to help protect assets to a surviving spouse, and the inheritance of children from previous marriages. If one or both spouses in a second marriage have children from a prior marriage, both spouses typically want to ensure that their kids get an inheritance at some point in the future. While most married couples prioritize their spouse as the primary beneficiary, after the surviving spouse passes away, if the couple’s estate plan gives everything directly to the surviving spouse, that arrangement would run the risk that the children from a prior marriage of the deceased spouse would be cut off from receiving an inheritance.

While couples want to assume that a surviving spouse will protect the rights of children from their spouse’s previous marriage, without legal safeguards, the estate of the surviving spouse can be changed to cut out individuals named as beneficiaries after their spouse’s death. Having a marital trust for the surviving spouse ensures that this change can’t happen.

What Are Other Situations in Which a Couple Should Consider Using a Marital Trust?

Additional situations in which a couple might consider using a marital trust include wanting to prevent undue influence of an outside person or party over the surviving spouse. This usually is a concern for older couples when the surviving spouse is in declining health or may have early onset of dementia, and there’s a concern they may be vulnerable to being taken advantage of financially. Another motivation for a marital trust includes a spouse who has an addiction that prevents them from making sound financial choices.

Did Actor Tony Curtis Disinherit His Children Due to Undue Influence?

In 2010, when Actor Tony Curtis died, his five children were left out of their father’s inheritance in a last-minute decision shortly before his death, notes MoneyWise article, “Hollywood legend Tony Curtis cut his kids out of his will and $60 million fortune when he died. Here’s how to avoid leaving behind messy inheritance disputes.” While Curtis did have a will, he decided to leave the majority of his assets to his fifth wife, Jill, and intentionally disinherit his children. The change to his estate plan came only a few months before his death, which raised suspicions within the family. Some of the Curtis children opened estate disputes in the years following his death to challenge the disinheritance, causing additional pain and separation within their family. If Curtis were subject to the undue influence of his fifth wife, Jill, as some of the Curtis children claimed, then a trust could have protected them from being disinherited.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Marital Trust?

  • Marital trusts are significant in estate planning for high-net-worth individuals, serving as a tool to minimize the estate tax burden by taking advantage of estate tax exemptions. A married couple can significantly reduce or eliminate estate taxes by utilizing a marital trust.
  • The surviving spouse can receive income and financial stability from the trust.
  • Assets are kept in the family, and the inheritance intended for children from previous marriages is protected.

Estate Tax Exemptions with a Marital Trust

One of the most significant benefits of a marital trust is its impact on estate taxes. A marital trust effectively doubles the estate tax exemption for a married couple, ensuring that a more significant portion of their wealth can be transferred tax-free. In the context of the federal estate tax, this can result in substantial tax savings and financial security for the surviving spouse and any other designated beneficiaries.

The Unlimited Marital Deduction in Action

The unlimited marital deduction is a cornerstone of marital trust planning. It allows the first spouse to pass assets to the surviving spouse without incurring estate taxes at the time of the first spouse’s death. This deduction is a critical aspect of marital trusts, ensuring that the income to the surviving spouse provides the necessary financial support without an immediate tax burden.

Are There Disadvantages of Using a Marital Trust?

While a marital trust offers many benefits, it’s essential to consider any limitations or drawbacks, such as loss of flexibility once established.

  • Once established, an irrevocable trust cannot be easily altered or terminated.
  • Estate tax exemption is limited based on the federal estate tax threshold.
  • Marital trusts, like other types of trusts, require that assets be moved into the trust, a process that can be lengthy or overlooked.

Establishing a Marital Trust with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Setting up a marital trust is a complicated form of estate planning that involves several steps, including choosing a trustee to manage the trust assets, determining the terms under which the trust assets will be managed and distributed and ensuring that the couple’s property is held in trust. When couples have complex family situations, including blended families or a spouse with vulnerabilities, a marital trust provides for the financial well-being of the surviving spouse. It also ensures that assets are preserved for future generations.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help a couple assess if a marital trust is the right instrument to help protect their blended family as a part of a comprehensive estate plan. If you would like to learn more about planning for blended families, please visit our previous posts. 

Photo by cottonbro studio

 

The Estate of The Union Podcast

 

Read our Books

Be cautious using Portability in a Second Marriage Estate Plan

Be cautious using Portability in a Second Marriage Estate Plan

Be cautious using portability in a second marriage estate plan. Despite its advantages, portability isn’t always the solution, even as it’s been used to take the pressure off couples to focus on using as much estate and gift tax exclusion as possible after the first spouse’s death. According to a recent article from Wealth Management, “Portability and Second Marriages,” portability might be a mistake.

The couple and their estate planning attorney need to consider whether leaving the executor with the discretion to use portability is appropriate, and if it is, who the executor should be and how the estate tax burden should be allocated.

The problem with portability in nonstandard families is this: it allows the surviving spouse to use the DSUE (Deceased Spouse’s Unused Exemption) amount personally, instead of requiring it be used for the beneficiaries of the first spouse to die. It’s almost like leaving assets outright to the surviving spouse. In the case of a testate decedent, Treasury regulations provide that only the executor may make the portability elections. The executor should probably not be also a beneficiary and should not be responsible for making the portability election.

Let’s say the estate isn’t large enough to require an estate tax return filing. If the executor is a child from a prior marriage, they may not choose to incur the expense of filing an estate tax return solely to make the portability election for the second spouse. Instead of having the family involved in a disagreement over the need for a return or determining who will pay for its preparation, a better option is to have the estate plan direct whether an estate tax return should be filed to elect portability and if this is done, establish who is responsible for the cost of the preparation and filing.

In complex families with children from a prior marriage, a Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) trust is used for the surviving spouse, with the trust assets eventually passing to the client’s descendants. However, if the QTIP trust is combined with portability, the estate plan may not operate as intended.

Here’s an example. Ted marries Alba several years after his first wife, Janine dies. Ted has three children from his marriage to Janine. He bequeaths most of his estate to a QTIP trust for Alba and the remainder to his children, naming Alba his executor. At Ted’s death, Alba elects QTIP treatment for the trust and portability. She then makes gifts of her assets to her family using Ted’s DSUE amount. Alba dies with an estate equal to her basic exclusion amount, which she also leaves to her family. The QTIP trust pays estate tax, and Ted’s children receive no benefit from Ted’s exclusion amount.

Even if Alba didn’t make gifts to her family, assuming her estate was large enough to absorb most of her applicable exclusion amount (including the DSUE), the QTIP trust would have to contribute to pay the estate taxes attributed to it unless the estate plan waives reimbursement. Thus, the QTIP trust could bear most or all of the estate tax at the death of the second spouse, while the second spouse’s personal assets are sheltered in part by the deceased spouse’s DSUE amount.

In cases like this, the prudent course of action may be to use traditional credit shelter/marital deduction planning. If there’s a DSUE amount available, the estate plan could direct whether it will be used and how the tax burden on the QTIP trust is handled.

Be cautious using portability in a second marriage estate plan. An experienced estate planning attorney will look at the family’s situation holistically and evaluate which strategies are most appropriate to distribute the property per the parent’s wishes to minimize taxes and ensure that the estate plan achieves its goals. If you would like to read more about estate planning for second marriages, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Wealth Management (June 21, 2023) “Portability and Second Marriages”

The Estate of The Union Podcast

 

Read our Books

Protecting Assets in a Second Marriage can be a challenge

Protecting Assets in a Second Marriage can be a challenge

Protecting assets in a second marriage can be a challenge. Parents in second marriages may want to leave assets to their children and try to make sure that their stepchildren don’t inherit. However, if stepchildren inherit, it can create resentment leading to legal disputes that can cost the estate significantly in delay and attorney fees.

AOL’s recent article, “How to Protect Assets From Stepchildren,” says that taking specific estate planning steps will let you effectively protect your assets from stepchildren.

If a stepchild inherits some of your assets, your children may feel cheated out of their rightful inheritance. Therefore, they may contest any awards to stepchildren to protect their interests.

Your children will be recognized as heirs to your estate even without a will naming them as beneficiaries. Stepchildren don’t have the same rights.

In most cases, they won’t inherit from a deceased stepparent’s estate unless specifically listed as beneficiaries in the will. However, stepchildren still may receive assets from your estate if your spouse dies after you and leaves assets to their children. Preventing stepchildren from ever getting assets from your estate can be done. However, it requires definite action to exclude them as beneficiaries.

If your spouse from a second or later marriage dies first, you usually don’t have to do anything to prevent stepchildren from receiving assets you control.

Even after an intestate death that happens without a valid will, stepchildren typically aren’t recognized as having any right to assets in the estate. However, some states grant stepchildren some rights of inheritance. Ask an experienced estate planning attorney about this.

In addition, a will can name specific people, including stepchildren, and exclude them from receiving benefits from the estate.

Using a trust, you can ALSO prevent stepchildren from getting assets from your estate after you die.

This can help avoid conflicts and potential litigation from children upset because stepchildren received assets from the estate.

Protecting assets in a second marriage can be a challenge. Remember that if you fail to act, stepchildren can still benefit even at the expense of your children if, for example, you die before your spouse, who then names their children as beneficiaries of the estate. If you would like to learn more about remarriage protection, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: AOL (April 26, 2023) “How to Protect Assets From Stepchildren”

Photo by Oană Andrei

 

The Estate of The Union Podcast

 

Read our Books

Protecting Inheritances in a Blended Family

Protecting Inheritances in a Blended Family

Blended families have estate planning challenges differing from traditional families, explains a recent article from The Record Courier, “Estate Planning for Blended Families.” A blended family is one where one or both partners have children from a prior marriage. The details vary, but the concern is the same: the possibility for the children to be disinherited if after one spouse dies, the surviving spouse reduces or eliminates any provisions made for the deceased spouse’s children. Protecting inheritances in a blended family becomes a major priority.

A well-drafted estate plan, created by an experienced estate planning attorney, can address this issue to ensure that the deceased spouse’s children are protected and provided for after the death of their parent.

When creating the estate plan, consider what would happen if the surviving spouse remarried. This frames the drafting process in an optimal way for the children. Provisions should be made to protect them and a number of strategies may be used.

A simple last will and testament or even a revocable trust with no provisions typically won’t be enough to address the complex needs of a blended family. When the first spouse dies, the surviving spouse remains free to change the terms of their will, which could place the children of the deceased spouse at a disadvantage.

Designating an independent fiduciary can help ensure that the children of the deceased spouse have sufficient assets. The independent fiduciary can protect the children’s interests with no risk of self-dealing. An oversight by an independent fiduciary also minimizes the chances of conflict between children and stepparents.

A properly designed estate plan protects the children of both parents, regardless of which spouse dies first. One commonly-used strategy is to create a trust leaving the assets to the surviving spouse during the spouse’s lifetime but then passes the remaining assets to the children of the deceased spouse.

Another option is to divide the estate upon the death of the first spouse, with half the estate protected for the children of the deceased spouse. The surviving spouse has access to those assets for certain needs. However, limitations may be put into place. This is applicable if the two partners bring assets of equal size to the marriage.

In some cases, the strategy to ensure that children receive the assets intended for them upon their parent’s death is to leave them to the children outside of the trust, passing them directly by naming the children as designated beneficiaries on select accounts and/or life insurance policies.

If the children are minors, creating a separate trust may be an optimal means of protecting inheritances in a blended family.

A premarital or post-nuptial agreement is also used to clarify the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during the marriage and can also be used to specify the children’s living situation and expenses and require assets to be used to maintain their standard of living.

With mindful and comprehensive estate planning, couples can leave a financial legacy for all of their children, while still providing for surviving spouses. If you would like to learn more about blended families, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: The Record Courier (March 12, 2023) “Estate Planning for Blended Families”

The Estate of The Union Podcast

 

Read our Books

Divorce requires a Review of Estate Planning

Divorce requires a Review of Estate Planning

Even the most amicable divorce requires a review and update of your estate planning, as explained in a recent article from yahoo! finance, “I’m Divorcing. Will That Impact My Estate Planning?” This includes your will, power of attorney and other documents. Not getting this part of divorce right can have long-term repercussions, even after your death.

Last will and testament. If you don’t have a will, you should get this started. Why? If anything unexpected occurs, like dying while your divorce is in process, the people you want to receive your worldly goods will actually receive them, and the people you don’t want to receive your property won’t. If you do have a will and an estate plan and if your will leaves all of your property to your soon-to-be ex-spouse, then you may want to change it. Just a suggestion.

State laws handle assets in a will differently. Therefore, talk with your estate planning attorney and be sure your will is updated to reflect your new status, even before your divorce is finalized.

Trusts. The first change is to remove your someday-to-be ex-spouse as a trustee, if this is how you set up the trust. If you don’t have a trust and have children or others you would want to inherit assets, now might be the time to create a trust.

A Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT) could be used to transfer assets to a trustee on behalf of minor children. The assets would not be considered marital property, so your spouse would not be entitled to them. However, a DAPT is an irrevocable trust, so once it’s created and funded, you would not be able to access these assets.

Review insurance policies. You’ll want to remove your spouse from insurance policies, especially life insurance. If you have young children with your spouse and you are sharing custody, you may want to keep your ex as a beneficiary, especially if that was ordered by the court. If you received your health insurance through your spouse’s plan, you’ll need to look into getting your own coverage after the divorce.

Power of Attorney. If your spouse is listed as your financial power of attorney and your healthcare power of attorney, there are steps you’ll need to take to make this change. First, you have to notify the person in writing to tell them a change is being made. This is especially urgent if you are reducing or eliminating their authority over your financial and legal affairs. You may only change or revoke a power of attorney in writing. Most states have specific language required to do this, and a local estate planning attorney can help do this properly.

You also have to notify all interested parties. This includes anyone who might regularly work with your power of attorney, or who should know this change is being made.

Divide Retirement Accounts. How these assets are divided depends on what kind of accounts they are and when the earnings were received. The court must issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) before defined contribution plans can be split. The judge must sign this document, which allows plan administrators to enforce it. This applies to 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and any plans governed under ERISA (Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974).

Divorce is stressful enough, and it may feel overwhelming to add estate planning into the mix. However, divorce really requires a complete review of your estate planning. Doing so will prevent many future problems and unwanted surprises. If you would like to learn more about the effects of divorce on your planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: yahoo! finance (Feb. 3, 2023) “I’m Divorcing. Will That Impact My Estate Planning?”

The Estate of The Union Podcast

 

Read our Books

Situations That Might Prompt a Post-Nup

Situations That Might Prompt a Post-Nup

Vigour Times’ recent article entitled “Here’s Why Married Couples Might Want To Sign A Postnuptial Agreement” looks at the situations that might prompt a couple to prepare a post-nup.

For example, married couples may need to adjust a pre-nup they signed before they were married. They want to make certain the new terms are based on the things that have occurred since that time.

Changes in marital dynamics can trigger a change in the terms of a pre-nup. For instance, couples may not have thought that one spouse would begin to earn a lot more than the other or that, as the marriage endured over time, greater trust grew between the partners.

A post-nup may also come into play when a couple is thinking about divorce but still trying to work things out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 10 years as many as 43% of first marriages can fail.

Because divorcing sooner rather than later could be more advantageous to one of the spouses,  a couple’s agreement may say the marriage ended as of the date of the post-nup for purposes of calculating alimony and property division, should efforts to repair a marriage be unsuccessful.

There are circumstances when a post-nup is needed to work around state laws to allow one spouse to leave the other one less than what is required by state law.

Many people don’t know that once they’re married, state law usually gives their spouse a minimum percentage of the estate, even if the deceased spouse tried to leave it to someone else. One example of this is where a person in a second marriage wants to leave all their assets to children from a previous marriage.

Ask an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure the plan is consistent with the estate documents, especially as to trusts.

There also may be external situations, such as a future change in wealth, that might prompt a post-nup. For instance, in the event of a potential inheritance, for example, an heir — or the relatives leaving the assets — may insist on a post-nup, so the wealth will stay on their side of the family and not be included in any possible divorce negotiations. If you are interested in learning more about pre and post-nups, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Vigour Times (Nov. 27, 2022) “Here’s Why Married Couples Might Want To Sign A Postnuptial Agreement”

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift is out now!

 

Read our Books

Prenup is a Useful Tool in Estate Planning

Prenup is a Useful Tool in Estate Planning

A Prenup is a useful tool in your estate planning. Forbes’ recent article entitled “Prenuptial Agreement: What Is A Prenup & How Do I Get One?” explains that a prenup contemplates the end of the marriage, so the couple can divide assets with an objective mindset. A prenup can even help protect a business.

Prenups allow you to determine if alimony will be due if the marriage ends, as well as the amount and terms of those payments. A prenup can also say what kind of bequests you leave to each other in your will. It can also be good for couples trying to keep separate significant pieces of personal property, including future inheritances and other anticipated income. This is common for couples with a significant age or wealth difference and among older or remarrying couples.

Prenups Aren’t Just for the Very Wealthy. A Prenup can be a useful tool for almost everyone’s estate planning.

Protect Family Heirlooms. If you have a family heirloom and want to make sure that if your marriage ends, you’ll get to keep it, you can draft a prenuptial agreement that states the family heirloom is yours.

Pass Property to Children from Prior Marriages. A prenup can be used to establish property rights for second marriages. If you have children from a previous marriage, you can protect their interests in your assets and property.

Clarify Financial Rights. Prenups can help you decide now how assets will be split up instead of waiting until divorce proceedings. While divorce may never come, determining the financial distribution now saves time and headache.

Debt Protection. Prenups also provide debt protection. Some people enter a marriage with substantial financial debts or student loan debt. For couples in this situation, they can sign a prenup and clarify that those debts remain the separate responsibility of the spouse who incurred them. They can also decide how debts incurred during the marriage will be handled.

Avoid Emotional Arguments. The end of a marriage and divorce is emotional. It can be an overwhelming and upsetting process. When you’re negotiating with your spouse about assets, tempers can cloud your judgment about asset distribution. Contemplating these items with a clearer head is better for all.

Take time to consider how you want to craft a prenup. It can have a significant impact on your assets and your goals for your heirs. If you would like to read more about prenups and other forms of asset protection, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Forbes (Oct. 24, 2022) “Prenuptial Agreement: What Is A Prenup & How Do I Get One?”

Photo by Pixabay

 

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift is out now!

 

Read our Books

The Estate of The Union Season 3|Episode 2

The Estate of The Union Season 2 Episode 3 is out now!

The Estate of The Union Season 2, Episode 3 – Mis-Titled Assets Can Wreck Your Planning is out now!

Almost everyone thinks that once they have a Will or Living trust in place, they are set when the unthinkable happens.  Unfortunately, that ain’t always so!

The way in which you take title to assets can affect your estate, taxes and perhaps the disposition of the asset if a couple divorces. In our latest edition of our Podcast, The Estate of the Union, Brad Wiewel explores what MUST happen behind the scenes to make the estate plan happen! It’s not just the documents, it’s aligning your assets with the plan – which is called “Funding.” And if this part gets screwed-up, it’s a train wreck that may happen the minute someone passes away or becomes incapacitated.

We’ve got sixteen other episodes posted and more to come. We hope you will enjoy them enough to share it with others. These are available on Apple, Spotify and other podcast outlets.

In each episode of The Estate of The Union podcast, host and lawyer Brad Wiewel will give valuable insights into the confusing world of estate planning, making an often daunting subject easier to understand. It is Estate Planning Made Simple! The Estate of The Union Season 2, Episode 3  – Mis-Titled Assets Can Wreck Your Planning can be found on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or anywhere you get your podcasts. If you would prefer to watch the video version, please visit our YouTube page. Please click on the link below to listen to the new installment of The Estate of The Union podcast. We hope you enjoy it.

The Estate of The Union Season 2, Episode 3 – Mis-Titled Assets Can Wreck Your Planning out now!

Texas Trust Law focuses its practice exclusively in the area of wills, probate, estate planning, asset protection, and special needs planning. Brad Wiewel is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We provide estate planning services, asset protection planning, business planning, and retirement exit strategies.

www.texastrustlaw.com/read-our-books

How to Separate Business and Marital Assets

How to Separate Business and Marital Assets

High-profile cases like the Bezos or the Gates should cause many people to consider how to separate their business and marital assets that are tied together. You need to have plans in place from the beginning. No one thinks their partnership will end. However, it’s necessary to have a plan in place, just in case.

The Dallas Business Journal’s recent article entitled “Does your business need a prenup?” explains that there are three typical outcomes when married couples working as business partners decide to end their relationship:

  • One individual buys out the other partner’s shares and continues running the business;
  • The partners sell the business and divide the proceeds; or
  • The couple continues working as partners after the divorce.

Safeguards can be put in place on the first day of the relationship to protect your personal and business assets in the event of a divorce. A way to do this is through a prenuptial agreement, which states what will happen if a split happens. A pre-nup should:

  • Establish the value of the business as of the date of marriage or the date the agreement is signed;
  • Detail a course of action with the appreciation or depreciation of the business from the date of the marriage;
  • Say how business value will be measured; and
  • Specify the allocation of business interests to be awarded to each spouse in the event of a divorce.

In addition to a prenuptial agreement, any privately held company should have a shareholder agreement (or “operating agreement” for non-corporations). The shareholder agreement is one of the most important documents owners of a closely held business will ever sign.

It controls the transfer of ownership when certain events occur, like divorce and states the following:

  • Which party will buy out the other’s shares of the company if a buyout occurs; or
  • If either party has the right to sell, how the ownership interest will be valued and the terms and conditions concerning the acquisition.

Because there are some tax implications involved in a buyout, it’s best to bring in experienced estate planning attorney for this process. In addition, life events like divorce or changes in a business partnership are an appropriate time to update your will, estate plans and any necessary insurance policies. Remember, it is important to consider how to separate business and marital assets before there is conflict. If you would like to learn more about pre-nups and other business and marital agreements, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Dallas Business Journal (Aug. 1, 2022) “Does your business need a prenup?”

Photo by J carter

 

The Estate of The Union Season 2, Episode 2 – The Consumer's Guide to Dying is out now!

 

Read our Books

Managing Finances in a Blended Family

Managing Finances in a Blended Family

Family finances can be a big issue in any circumstances. Managing finances in a blended family is even more significant, where two sets of often well-established financial histories and philosophies try to merge into one.

Kiplinger’s recent article entitled “Yours, Mine and Ours: A Checklist for Blended Family Finances” says that a blended family is one where people have remarried, either after a divorce or the death of a spouse. Sometimes it’s older couples already in retirement. In other cases, it’s a younger couple still trying to raise children.

However, regardless of the specifics of any individual situation, when families blend, so do their finances. That is when things can get problematic, if careful planning and communication don’t occur.

Here are a few things to consider:

Money habits. People are raised with different ideas about financial issues. They’re influenced by their parents or by the circumstances of their formative years. Some people are exceptionally frugal and save every penny and seldom, if ever, splurge on something just for fun. Others spend with reckless abandon, unconcerned about the unexpected expenses that life can throw at them at any moment.

Many people are somewhere in between these extremes. If you are entering a serious relationship, you should speak to your new partner about how each of you approaches spending money.

Financial accounts and bills. Once you learn each other’s financial philosophy, you will have decisions to make. These include whether to blend your financial accounts or keep them separate. If the two of you are closely aligned with your finances and how you approach spending, you may want to simply combine everything. If you’re older, have adult children from prior relationships and are more financially established, you may decide to keep things separate.

For many, a hybrid approach may be best — keep some things separate, but have common savings, investments and household accounts to reach your blended goals.

Family. When there are children from a prior marriage — especially young children — additional financial situations will need to be addressed. Issues of child support and how it fits into the overall budget is one concern, as is the status of college funding for the children.

Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure you managing the finances of your blended family the way you wish. If you would like to learn more about blended families and estate planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Kiplinger (June 27, 2022) “Yours, Mine and Ours: A Checklist for Blended Family Finances”

Photo by Julia M Cameron

 

The Estate of The Union Season 2, Episode 2 – The Consumer's Guide to Dying is out now!

 

Read our Books

Information in our blogs is very general in nature and should not be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Please feel free to contact Texas Trust Law to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Categories
View Blog Archives
View TypePad Blogs