A blended family will bring unique challenges to your estate plans. Given that Texas doesn’t have probate laws that dictate how your assets should be handled or distributed if you have stepchildren or remarried, it is in your best interest and that of your family to create a formal plan peculiar to your situation. Here’s what you should know.
Texas law will govern if you don’t have an updated formal plan
If you and your spouse die without a will or other formal plan in place, Texas intestacy laws will apply. According to these laws, your surviving spouse will receive half the interest in your marital property, while your biological will receive the rest. However, your stepchildren or stepgrandchildren do not have a right to any of your property when you die without a will.
Circumstances might change if you’ve formally adopted your stepchildren. In this case, they’ll receive part of your estate like any other biological child.
Leaving everything to your surviving spouse
It’s quite common to see people leaving everything they have to their spouse, hoping that they’ll take care of their children and other dependent family members after they are gone. But this can be a dangerous move. You should keep in mind that your spouse will eventually move on and can remarry after you’re dead. Or, they can grow apart from your biological children. And when that happens, they can simply disinherit them from all your assets.
Estate planning tips for your blended family
Keep the following things in mind when you’re estate planning as a blended family:
• You and your spouse should each have a will.
• If you have young children, make sure to name a guardian for them in your will.
• You might want to consider using trusts to provide for your children from a previous marriage while still protecting assets for your current spouse.
• Ensure all of your beneficiary designations are up to date, especially if you’ve remarried or had children since you last updated them.
• Review your life insurance policies and make sure the beneficiaries are still accurate.
Estate planning is an integral part of ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. With careful planning, you can make sure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are provided for.